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The White House set out a strategy after the indictment of top administration Scooter Libby in the fall.  Part of that strategy was to create a reset switch that would be in place and activated by the State of the Union Address.  August, September and October were very bad months for the administration, to say the least.  In the news vacuum created by Bush's August vacation a new spokesperson against the war was realized in a mother whose son had died in war.  From stories of a vacationing President too busy relaxing to give a shit about a mourning mother outside his ranch, the White House was hit even harder when Katrina wiped out the entire Gulf Coast while the President did nothing.

Cross posted at EconoCulture's blog: Political Porn

Between Camp Casey and Katrina, Bush was in deep.  Following the single moment of journalistic truth in at least a decade - when Fox reporters told Americans at home of a government totally inept and with no regard for the poor came the rat race of "Fitzmas."  Fitzgerald was leak proof, which fed wild speculation about an already down administration.

Immediately following the indictment of Libby, the White House floated its reset strategy.  First, they suggested that more resignations might follow - ending any lingering speculation about who might go next.  They then spoke of the State of the Union as the point that would mark Bush's re-virgining of his second term.

Christmas stopped the news cycles.  And then Bush was handed his strong suit: war.  Soon he will get his reset, with the Democrats walking into another trap.

The NSA scandal is serious.  It's serious because the President has violated the law.  But this is not the first, or worst, instance of his law breaking.  He's ordered the illegal invasion of a country - an act far worse than domestic spying.  He's lied to the Congress.  He's ordered torture.  He's imprisoned Americans without charges or a trial.  All of this matters, since each time the President breaks the law he rips apart the American democracy.

The only reason for Democrats to be opposed to what Bush has done with regards to the NSA must be about the ongoing pattern of disregard for the rule of law.  And that's because Bush is going win if the Democrats talked about the wrongs of domestic spying.

In fact, I suspect that the NSA story serves the administration, in a way that suggests that they wanted the story to break - at this time.  Why?  Because the NSA scandal shifts the conversation to the "need to respond quickly" to terrorists.  Never mind that Bush already could respond quickly - since details don't matter in the kind of discourse favored by the White House.  What matters is that Bush can now talk about the need to fight terrorism, which I expect he'll be doing a lot during the State of the Union.

And once he does this, the clock is reset and the frame is reframed in Bush's favor.  Democrats will be framed as weak and obsessed with the past.  Bush will be talking of the future, and of his need to respond quickly.  And the heart of the issue - the life of the Republic itself - will be ignored by both Democrats and Republicans.

And this speaks to why Democrats need to understand the value of losing, or of taking a stand.  That's why they are totally screwing up by not filibustering Alito - who provides the perfect chance to take Bush's national security frame and smash it for good.  A principled stand for the Republic itself, for Democracy and the rule of law, is the only thing interesting and compelling enough to once again derail Bush.  Otherwise, the NSA scandal is nothing but an effective distraction along our road to tryanny.

Cross posted at EconoCulture's blog: Political Porn

Disclosure statement Tom Kertes

Originally posted to Tom Kertes on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 07:51 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  NSA as a trap; maybe not. How we package out mess (none)
    age, yes that would be the trap.
  •  I agree (none)
    There must be a filibuster. Win or lose a stand has to be made.

    it tastes like burning...

    by eastvan on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 08:07:13 PM PST

  •  The outrages follow each other so quickly (none)
    that it is hard to respond effectively to each, especially with few levers of power and a supine MSM.  So you are right that Democrats must emphasize the ongoing patterns: incompetence, corruption, recklessness, dishonesty, arrogance, disregard of law...
    Pick three and use it every time in speaking (for example) of the "corrupt, incompetent and arrogant Republicans who control our government in Washington".
    And if not now, when?
    •  So the Rove strategy (4.00)
      is to overwhelm us with scandals so fast and furious that it becomes impossible to respond to any of them?
      •  xrepub (4.00)
        Deliberate or not it seems to be working. Outrage fatique has set in when any one of these issues singlely should have us building barricades in the streets and storming the Bastille White House.

        We can make the world a better place by laying them by the heels. -- Sherlock Holmes

        by Carnacki on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 08:30:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  NSA is significant because (none)
      Bush said, "I did it."......   He claimed the crime!

      Involvements in other offenses like:

           Selling the war on faux data
           Approving torture
           Connections with big business

      are harder to prove.

       But these other crimes might resonate with the populace to a greater degree.  

      I'm concerned the NSA crimes will not be understood by some voters.  It is especially true if we have no help from the traditional media.  

      That is why  I like your idea of lumping things together.  Then we won't get pulled off our mark and yet we don't let anything get past us.  

  •  I disagree (none)
    The NSA spying crime is different because it's going before a committee in February and it's concerning a very simple legal question.

    This crime is apparent, and there are no legal trapdoors through which Bush can disown this.

    It's all him.

    I don't think this is planned. I think this is the beginning of the end.

    The end can come in 1 of 2 ways. It can either come in the form of true fascism in the form of a "Unitary Executive" that Alito swings the vote on. Or it can come in the form of Bush being impeached on the simple technicalities of the crime he confessed to.

    I think the first is actually possible. I don't think the concept will stand in the long term in the U.S. But it'd probably be used to save Bush. I wonder how coordinated that would be? And why Bush Sr. and Clinton were so buddy buddy?

    Are people worried about what that exposure of such core criminality would mean to America?

    Or are they more concerned about what a "Unitary Executive" would mean? We know where Al Gore stands I think. But what about Bill?

    Personally, I've seen deals being organized to get Bush out of trouble for some time... that's my form of paranoia.

    But the second one is pretty likely too.

    I can understand your concern. But for awhile now, I don't think the Repugs have had much but brute force. And it's piling up. The more hearings they force to meet in basements, the more ludicrous it becomes.

    But I really do believe that Bush's SOTU will fall pretty flat.

    No Bin Laden, military is on the green line, Iraq Reconstruction is cut off, Bush is hung up on domestic spying... an incontrovertible crime unless they change the Constitution.

    This is so radical, so extreme, that in the end it was almost inevitably destined to fail.

    These guys being corporatists in it for the quick buck, I don't think they give a damn. They've already won.

    As long as they can pardon each other whenever they want.

    But I don't think they expected it to blow up so soon. I do think that ever since Katrina, they've been on their heels.

    It's all well earned defense by the heckofajob brownshirts at this point in my view.

    •  Unitary executive scares me most of all. (none)
      The masses seem to have caught on to the King George meme. We need to build their awareness that this isn't some goofy bumbling idiot boy-King that is just going to spend our treasury dry...this gang are pure evil personified. They must be deposed.

      (ps. If they trot out the HSA (Health Savings Accounts) as a showpiece of policy in the SOTU, it will play poorly with the masses. Social Security
      Reform II).

  •  No matter what happens (none)
    We know Bush is going to make excuses, reframe it to look like he's saving the country from "Terra," and above all he'll be working hand-in-glove with his friends in the board rooms and their corporate media outlets.

    But that's an old story.  Who knows if it will still play?  Plus, who knows if Bush can pull off a performance at the podium with the whole world watching?  Between the war, the economy, NSA, Katrina, Iran ... there are a lot of people who don't believe Bush can handle the Presidency effectively any more.

    His approval rating is in the mid-thirties--he's got to do something!  But it's a roll of the dice at this point.  He's toxic.  Watch for the Freudian slips.

    Plus, the scandals cut both ways.  There is only so much a patriotic Republican is willing to swallow--especially now that Tom DeLay isn't breathing down his neck.

    The so-called, "Global War On Terror" IS Terrorism!

    by november3rd on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:02:11 PM PST

  •  What do we do after they don't filibuster? (none)

    "And you can dream--So dream out loud--And don't let the bastards grind you down." Bono, Acrobat, Achtung Baby

    by lecsmith on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 09:16:15 PM PST

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