Could this be the face that will haunt North Carolina Democrats?
In light of recent developments, Michael Nifong may be guilty of egregious prosecutorial misconduct in the Duke rape investigation. Already it appears that professionally Nifong is toast, and there is speculation that his malfeasance may not be covered by prosecutorial immunity. In what may be the ultimate irony in this Gothic drama, Nifong himself could wind up being the only "player" who faces a judge and jury.
So what are the implications for North Carolina Democrats? Well, normally there shouldn't be any implications. After all, in normal circumstances the office of District Attorney in Durham isn't something with a great deal of political consequence. But then again, these are not normal circumstances.
The Republicans apparently are done watching from a distance and now they're calculating how all this carnage might be turned to their advantage. Rep. Walter Jones has recently imposed himself in the issue by calling publicly for a federal investigation, and he's asked the Attorney General himself to get involved. It's an open question whether Rep. Jones has the dexterity to handle this bomb without it blowing up in his face, but we'll see.
An article by Wendy McElroy of Fox News gives a few hints at where the Republicans might be headed. First, there is an elaborate explanation of all that Nifong has done wrong, with consistent emphasis on the fact that he's a Democrat, he's a Democrat, he's a Democrat. There's also a long explanation as to how a Supreme Court case called Imbler v. Pachtman could be used to deprive Nifong of prosecutorial immunity and render him eligible for trial (a helpful development that would allow for continuing media coverage through the next election.)
However, there are signs that the Republicans, or at least Fox News, might not be ready for prime time. A large part of what McElroy attempts to do is tie the scandal to Governor Easley. Ms. McElroy asserts that Governor Easley is "responsible for initially appointing fellow-Democrat (sic) to the office of D.A.," which is true enough, but then she goes on to claim that Gov. Easley has not acted to check Nifong because, "Easley's upcoming election will depend on the voter bloc that recently elected Niforg: working-class blacks."
In a tour de force, Fox News succeeds in implying that the Governor should intercede in a local prosecution, which would be highly inappropriate, that he isn't interceding because he's running for election, which is flat wrong, since Easley has announced that he isn't running for anything, and that the fault for all of this misconduct ultimately lies at the feet of.... whom? You guessed it, "working-class blacks."
In a perfect demonstration of what's already so terribly wrong in this case, Fox News serves up a report that starts with flawed preconceptions, moves right along to misinformation, and then finishes up with a heavy dose of racism.
If we've received a glimpse of what's inside the Republican play book, what we're about to see will certainly be ugly, but Democrats needn't be too concerned. Just in the nick of time Rep. Jones grabbed the bomb and threw it in the direction of Anthony Gonzalez... details to follow on Fox News.