Today’s Blogs

Sunday, April 03, 2005

  today’s blogs
Wrist Slap for Five-Finger Discount
By David Wallace-Wells
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005, at 2:35 PM PT

Bloggers attack the Justice Department officials who let Sandy Berger get off with misdemeanor charges for pilfering copies of a classified document. They also tentatively assess the life of Pope John Paul II and write themselves into a fury about Terri Schiavo’s parents selling a list of contributors to Terri’s cause.

Wrist slap for five-finger discount: Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of "intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document" from the National Archives in 2003. The plea agreement includes a $10,000 fine and a suspension of his national security clearance for three years. It also suggests that he lied last summer in claiming that the swipe was "an honest mistake."

"Bizarre and inexplicable," says California liberal Kevin Drum, who adds, "I really don’t know what you can say about the Sandy Berger affair other than, What was he thinking?" Minnesota attorney John H. Hinderaker has an answer: "Obviously, he was trying to destroy documents that showed the negligence of the Clinton administration—of which he was a key member—in dealing with the threat of terrorism," he writes at conservative blog-by-committee Powerline.

"A rather sordid story of deliberate misconduct," assesses Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit. "Criminal penalties, aside, the man’s career in public life should be over, and he certainly should never have access to classified documents again." Many conservative bloggers agree that the crime dwarfs the penalty. "Just what do you have to do to get your clearance pulled permanently?" asks The National Review Online‘s Jim Geraghty at Kerry Spot.

Some questions linger, despite the plea. The American Prospect‘s Mathew Yglesias is confused about what, exactly, Berger removed from the archives. Conservative favorite Captain Ed from Captain’s Quarters doesn’t think there’s much chance of more information emerging. "The people who signed off on this deal probably just want to get Berger off the national stage for good, and see little gain in staging a sensational trial of the former Cabinet officer," he writes.

Read more about Sandy Berger.

Pope watch: An Italian news organization claimed that Pope John Paul II died this afternoon. The Vatican has denied those rumors but is publicly preparing for the supreme pontiff’s end. "This evening or this night, Christ opens the door to the pope," announced the pope’s vicar-general for Vatican City.

"So long to a man who advocated for discrimination but, was a leader for freedom the cause of humananity at the high point of his life," writes an ambivalent Michael Demmons at Gay Orbit. "I do hope the Catholic Church will learn the lesson that the Pope never did – that all human beings are created equally and would be loved equally by his creator, who reserves sole right of judgment." Diarist Silverstah also has reservations about some of the pope’s positions but argues that he "has done more work to bring Catholics all over the world together—and to celebrate their differences along with the basic tenets of their faith—than any other Pope on record."

"Even if you’re not Catholic and don’t really care about the Papacy, you should pay attention to these goings-on, since they so deeply effect the world’s politics," writes reverent papist Jim Spot. At Centre for Faith and Journalism, Scott Rank calls John Paul II "an irreplaceable pontiff" and thinks that "whoever is the next pope has a huge hat to fill (literally and figuratively)."

Read the latest blog posts on the pope.

The Schindlers’ list: Terri Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, have agreed to sell a list of their financial supporters through the conservative direct-mail outfit Response Unlimited. "If you still think that this case has anything to do with a ‘culture of life,’ or is even just a poorly calculated political ploy, then you haven’t been paying close enough attention," writes Scott Jones at round-table blog thought.mechanics. "Nope, this whole thing is really about one thing: funding a movement. All you have to do is follow the money."

Plenty of others agree. "I can’t help thinking [this] is the proof, the smoking gun, of these peoples’ politics. It has burrowed further into my head than Tom DeLay turning his own father’s life support off, or Bush’s Texas Bill validating the same even if the family disagrees," writes "hungry mind" Barista. "Everything is For Sale in America," declares a newbie blogger at Cult Of The Turtle. "Expect a minimum of 2 book deals and 2 made-for-tv-moves out of this."

Read more about the list of donors here.

Have a question, comment, or suggestion for Today’s Blogs? E-mail todaysblogs@slate.com.

David Wallace-Wells is a Slate intern.

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