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"Watergate" used to be a noun that represented a part of a system of canals.

Then it was the name of a swanky hotel, office and apartment complex in Washington.

Now, of course, it's synonymous with scandal - in fact, "-gate" is a suffix that literally means "scandal."

We may be witnessing the birth of another such addition to the political lexicon of this country.

Stay with me here.

Think about it: What has been the refrain repeated over and over and over again by Democratic politicians the past several years whenever their supporters have beseeched them to block a terrible Supreme Court nominee or investigate the manifold criminal acts of the BushCheney administration?

"It'll be seen as a politically motivated witch hunt."

We have to hold our fire, we were told. We have to keep our powder dry.

Democrats have been holding their fire for so long that by now, they're sitting on more dry powder than Barbara Bush.

And then along came Jane. And now we have our chance.

In 1972, in the thick of the Cold War, while U.S. soldiers were dying in a land war in Asia with insurgents believed by many in this country to be a proxy army for the Red Chinese, President Richard Nixon - lifelong anti-Communist - traveled to China to meet with Chairman Mao Zedong. (He also smiled when he shook Mao's Commie dictator hand, BTW.) It often has been said that only Nixon could have opened China, that only because no one in their right mind would ever think of accusing Richard Nixon of being soft on Communism was it possible for him to make nice with the Communists.

Just as Nixon was the perfect politician to go to China, so is Harman the perfect politician for Democrats to investigate. She's a Democrat, a member of Congress since 1993. Anyone trying to call an investigation into Harman and the wiretaps of her, and how those wiretaps were obtained, and who else is implicated in those wiretaps, and who tried to cover up those wiretaps, and why they tried to cover them up, and who they were protecting by covering them up, and who - well, you get the idea - anyone who tries to call that a "partisan witch hunt" will be hooted off the stage.

Harman is the match that lights the fuse to all that powder we've been keeping so dry for so long.

And, if things turn out the way I hope they will, I would very much like to believe that someday, "Pulling a Harman" will become shorthand for providing political cover to perform a necessary and justifiable - even imperative - but politically hazardous act, like investigating oh, say, war crimes, or illegal wiretapping, or obstruction of justice, or treason.

And for that, Jane Harman, we will have you to thank.

Originally posted to Important if True on Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 04:37 PM PDT.

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