Bob Barr can be a self-important blowhard. His antics during the Clinton years were borderline obscene, as the thrice-wed Barr sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act and then became infatuated with Monica's stained dress. But since the GOP gerrymandered him out of office, his venom has been less toxic. Of late, the by-the-book prosecutor in him has turned its sights on the abuses of BushCo. This is his 2nd AJC column on "the Bush administration's defense of presidentially ordered electronic spying on American citizens". His first column made it clear that he views the spying as illegal and unconstitutional.
Barr starts with pointing out the parsing of words which he views as Clintonian:
President Bush responded to a question at a White House news conference about what now appears to be a clear violation of federal electronic monitoring laws by trying to argue that he had not ordered the National Security Agency to "monitor" phone and e-mail communications of American citizens without court order; he had merely ordered them to "detect" improper communications. This example of presidential phrase parsing was followed quickly by the president's press secretary, Scott McLellan, dead-panning to reporters that when Bush said a couple of years ago that he would never allow the NSA to monitor Americans without a court order, what he really meant was something different than what he actually said.
Then, from parsing to lying and attacking:
First, we get a president bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali. He knows he can't really tell the truth and he knows he can't rely only on lies. The resulting dilemma leads him to veer from unintelligible muttering to attempts to distract, and then to chest-beating bravado and attacks on his accusers.
Then an excape:
Soon, he begins taking trips abroad and appearing at the White House podium with foreign leaders with minimal command of English, allowing him to duck for cover whenever scandal questions arise.
-Not that W has such a firm grasp on the language either.
Then the stall:
The next actors to enter the stage typically are the president's press secretary and the White House counsel's office. By using the White House counsel's office to bury investigators in a sea of motions, pleadings and memoranda, an administration can drag out an investigation to the point of exhaustion. By the time the investigation actually slogs through this legal maze to bring real charges or issue a report, the courts, public and media are so sick and tired of hearing about it that the final charges fall stillborn from the press.
Then the favorite tactic of BushCo- partisanship:
A critical component of White House Scandal Defense 101 is rallying the partisan base. This keeps approval ratings in territory where the wheels don't start falling off. The way to achieve this goal is you go negative and you don't let up. If you're always attacking your accusers, the debate becomes one of Democrat vs. Republican, rather than right vs. wrong. Anyone who questions the legality of the decision to wiretap thousands of Americans unlawfully is attacked, as either an enabler of terrorists or a bitter partisan trying to distract a president at war.
And lastly, Barr recommends we elect a Democratic Congress:
Yet another tactic is to shore up your congressional base in order to avoid or at least control pesky oversight investigations. A president's job here is made far easier if his party maintains a majority in one or both houses.
The pattern has begun. The plan is in place. As it unfolds, let's write letters, make phone calls and call B.S on BushCo every step of the way.