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THE EVIDENCE MOUNTS: Easily the most overlooked part of the whole DiIulio-Esquire episode is that, in an apparent nod to Lanny Davis--that is, in an attempt to voluntarily preempt a potentially scandalous revelation before it came out in a way he couldn't control--DiIulio actually published an op-ed making many of the same points he makes in the Esquire piece in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
Our guess is that DiIulio was hoping his op-ed would create a minor stir, one which would quickly subside but which would make the Esquire article seem like old news by the time it came out. The only problem was that DiIulio either didn't realize that Esquire had already sent drafts of the article to the major news outlets (which promptly posted articles about it on their websites Sunday evening), or, more likely, that he thought of this tactic far too late--which is to say, after he realized Esquire had already distributed copies of the article to the major news outlets, leaving him no time to create his preemptive stir. (The other problem is that DiIulio published his op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, but maybe that was the only paper that would take it after everyone already had a copy of the Esquire article.)
More important, though, the existence of the DiIulio op-ed--which few other media outlets have even mentioned--strengthens the case for believing that something really, really unexpected happened to DiIulio between Sunday night, when the news accounts of the Esquire article began trickling out, and Monday afternoon, when DiIulio officially repented. (As we suggested yesterday, we think that really unexpected thing might have been a phone call from Karl Rove.) After all, if DiIulio had planned on taking back his comments all along, why would he have bothered to write an op-ed affirming them just before the news of the article broke?