Hutchison digs herself out -- or in a little deeper

The senator's office tries to explain how perjury was a serious matter when Bill Clinton was involved but is only a "technicality" now.

Published October 26, 2005 4:56PM (EDT)

When Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said over the weekend that she hoped that any charges in the Valerie Plame case would be based on real crimes rather than on "some perjury technicality," a lot of us noted that Hutchison sure seemed to think perjury was a serious crime back when Bill Clinton was accused of committing it.

The senator's office has now set the record straight. In a letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle, Hutchison's press secretary, Chris Paulitz, explains that there's no double standard in Hutchison's double standard: "In the Oct. 25 editorial 'Double standard,'" Paulitz writes, "the Chronicle incorrectly compared U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's recent remarks on 'gotcha' investigator tactics in general to her comments during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, even though they are as different as night and day."

We're with you so far, Chris. Bill Clinton lied about blow jobs, while members of the Bush administration appear to have lied in the course of covering their tracks regarding the outing of a CIA agent whose husband suggested that the president of the United States had twisted intelligence as he took the country to war. Different as night and day? We couldn't agree more.

But that's not what Paulitz or his boss meant. Hutchison believes that Clinton "committed a serious crime when he purposely perjured himself and obstructed justice," Paulitz said. Members of the Bush administration, Paulitz suggests, may be guilty of simply "forgetting a name or not remembering a date."

Maybe that's right. But when you're the chief of staff to the vice president of the United States and the name you've forgotten belongs to a guy named Dick Cheney, we can understand how a special prosecutor might find it all just a little interesting.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Kay Bailey Hutchison R-tex.