Feb 14, 2006
This nation is facing two crises -- one phony and one real. Both in the
media and in politics, the phony crisis is getting virtually all the
Like the French official in "Casablanca," politicians and much of the
media are shocked, shocked, to discover that the government has been
listening in on calls involving international terrorist networks.
Congressional leaders of both parties have in fact known this for years
without saying a word.
Only after the New York Times published the news and made a big noise
about it have politicians begun to declare their shock.
That is not the only thing that makes this big uproar phony. The same
people who are going ballistic over what they spin as "domestic spying"
never went ballistic over one of the most gross examples of genuine
domestic spying during the Clinton years.
Hundreds of raw FBI files on Republicans were sent to the Clinton White
House, in violation of laws and for no higher purpose than having
enough dirt on enough people to intimidate political opponents. But
domestic spying against Republicans did not shock nearly as many people
as intercepting phone calls from terrorists.
The current hue and cry that is being whipped up into a media crisis is
part of a whole pattern of short-sighted political obstruction and a
futile venting of spleen.
What could have been more short-sighted and petty than the
Congressional Democrats holding up the official electoral college vote
last year confirming the re-election of President Bush? It was the
first time such a challenge was made since 1877.
Democrats knew from the outset that they had no chance of preventing
Bush's re-election from being confirmed in the Republican-controlled
House of Representatives. Moreover, since he was already President,
they could not even delay his taking office. It was obstruction for the
sake of obstruction -- and to "do something" to appeal to the
Bush-hatred of their political base. It was the same thing when the
Democrats obstructed and delayed the confirmation vote on Condoleezza
Rice as Secretary of State and later the confirmation of Samuel Alito
to the Supreme Court.
They knew from the outset that these were just futile temper tantrums
that would not affect the outcome in the slightest.
One of the ugliest examples of the same mindset was painfully visible
at the recent funeral of Coretta Scott King, where a solemn occasion
was turned into a series of political cheap shots against a President
who had come to honor the memory of Mrs. King.
The truly dangerous aspect of this temper tantrum politics is its
undermining the government of the United States in its dealings with
foreign powers and international terrorist networks.
There are nations and movements that respect only force or the threat
of force. Regardless of anyone's politics, the President of the United
States is the only one who can launch that force.
In the early days of the Iraq war, when it was clear to all that
American military force would be unleashed against our enemies, Libya
suddenly agreed to abandon its nuclear program and other countries
backed off their hostile stances.
But when our domestic obstructionists began undermining the President
and dividing the country, they were undermining the credibility of
American power. North Korea's government-controlled media gave big play
to Senator John Kerry's speeches against the U.S. hard line on the
development of North Korean nuclear weapons.
Obviously this all-out attempt to damage the President at all costs
makes any threat of the use of military force less credible with the
Whether President Bush will in fact use military force as a last resort
to prevent an unending nightmare of nuclear weapons in the hands of
Iranian fanatics and international terrorists is something only the
future will tell.
It would be far better if the threat of force were credible enough that
actual force would not have to be used. But divisive politics have
undermined the credibility of any such threat. That can narrow the
choices to killing people in Iran or leaving ourselves and our
posterity at the mercy of hate-filled and suicidal fanatics with nukes.
That is the real crisis that is being overshadowed by the phony