I'm not sure what the taxonomy rules are, but I always regard the application of the "-gate" suffix as an indication that the partisans are on the warpath (recall that Clinton couldn't sit down to bacon and eggs without some fringe publication declaring "Breakfastgate"), and I'm relatively certain that Marshall's enthusiasm for skewering the president is getting ahead of the evidence curve. Really, take just a short scroll through Marshall's blog and you'll notice some uncomfortable similarities to the kind of nut-fudge speculation that dogged Clinton, speculation that Clinton's defenders decried, as I recall.
It's not that I don't regard the administration's potential complicity in the leak, with or without the president's knowledge, as a serious matter. As I said yesterday, I'm all for an independent investigation. But I predict we'll see some gleeful fingerpointing on the left for at least a few weeks, or longer if they can drag it out, combined with an attempt to wrap up every critique of the president (Halliburton, WMD, tax cuts, stupidity, and so on) in the same fraying package. I think it will snowball, at least in the liberal press. (Note: Political hatchet site realchange.org is already humping this as "[Bush's] top aides illegally blew the cover of a CIA agent to coverup lies about Iraq." Wow! They've cracked the case!) I bet those old socialists Howard Zinn and Bill Greider will be flogging a book on this in October of 2004. Oh well. Sauce for the gander, I say. But do you suppose that the administration will feel any sympathy for the travails of Clinton's staff? I doubt it. Do you suppose that the Democrats will have any sympathy for the snowball of speculation that ran away with, and pretty much destroyed, the American Spectator? Yeah, I doubt that, too.
That said, Marshall is the go-to guy here. He's a first-rate reporter with a nose for bullshit. I'll be reading him daily.