What's Happening in the Dugout?

We don’t know yet, but as I listened to Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald on Friday, it became clear that we shall indeed see. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but we will get a good long glimpse into the workings — dare I say strategerizing? — of the dugout in question.

Baseball analogies are wonderful.

Fitzgerald’s baseball analogy in his briefing of October 28, 2005 was certainly appropriate, given that the Chicago White Sox just won the World Series. He compared the Justice Department investigation to what we would all want after a pitcher sends a good hard pitch to a batter’s head. We’d want to know the reasons for, and any possible foreknowledge of, that mighty beaner. We’d want to know if it was just a dumb accident or something more sinister.

Baseball analogies are wonderful, yessiree. But truck driver analogies are even better.

I was a bit taken aback at Fitzgerald’s reference to truck drivers who perjure themselves.

After all, we are focused here on a set of indictments against the powerful Chief of Staff of the most powerful Vice President our country has ever had the privilege to suffer. How in the world could truck drivers be pertinent?

Perhaps Fitzgerald was reaching out to the common man, and "truck driver" represented the average American. But later, Fitz was totally floored by the final press question regarding Harriet Miers’ withdrawal as a Supreme Court nominee. He appeared to be a man who hadn’t given Harriet Miers a second thought. He appeared to be a person with neither time nor inclination to frame any phrase for an audience other than that he was addressing.

And reporters aren’t truck drivers.

Fortunately, former prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega cleared up my personal disconnect.

The last case that Fitzgerald prosecuted, and successfully it seems, had to do with a crowd — dare I say cabal? — of elected, appointed and state-employed persons in Illinois. These people were part of a ring selling commercial licenses to truck drivers, among other things. Fitzgerald prosecuted the case slowly, quietly, efficiently and precisely, overseeing the issuance of 65 indictments, before he got to the final one.

That last indictment was for George Ryan, former governor of Illinois.

The truck driver analogy begins to makes sense. Fitzgerald’s Illinois investigation resulted in indictments of many people, including politicians, their assistants, and numerous truck drivers. Some of these truck drivers were indicted and prosecuted for nothing more than making false statements, obstructing justice and perjury.

Patrick Fitzgerald communicates refreshingly and strikingly, in clear language, without notes or teleprompters. He stood patiently for questions, and he handled each one in a way that seemed strange these days. He listened intently, was not evasive, and was not afraid.

It is amazing what five years of Bush and Cheney have done to my ability to enjoy a Washington press conference.

Fitzgerald’s humor and his seriousness were both genuine. Perhaps he is an alien. No doubt, suggestions to that effect will be included in the red herrings that Bush defenders and Iraq war instigators will include in their talking points to FoxNews, CNN, the other mainstream media outlets, and the Rush/Sean/Michael/Ann swarm.

Truck drivers — like chiefs of staffs — may lie, obstruct and get their stories confused. One may be saddened, as the President says he is, about poor Scooter Libby and his inability to remember who he told what to, when and why.

But this investigation — ongoing — may be dangerously focused on the Bush defenders and the Iraq war instigators.

Back in December 2003, at the final indictment of former Illinois Governor Ryan, Fitzgerald stated, "The charged conduct by former Gov. Ryan reflects a disturbing violation of trust… Ryan is charged with betraying the citizens of Illinois for over a decade on state business, both large and small."

Fitzgerald seems to have a thing about trust and betrayal. He seems to care deeply for this country and the law. He seems to think long term.

This makes him an extremely rare and precious commodity in Washington. If White Sox fans can pray for a baseball game, then I can say a little prayer for Patrick Fitzgerald.