ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, January 02, 2006

Andrew Sullivan hysteria alert

I think Mark Levin called it correctly in the Corner last night:

I think Andrew Sullivan can now be dismissed as just another shrill voice. Fresh from regurgitating the leftist spin about American forces torturing detainees (and misusing report after report which he clearly had not read), he's now doing the same with NSA intercepts of al-Qaeda communications. Has he read the Constitution? Has he read any of the relevant cases? Has he examined U.S. war-time history and the conduct of past presidents? Does it matter? I guess not.

Posted at 05:36 PM
The title of Andrew's column in the Times, "Nixon's Revenge: the return of the wiretappers," should alert any reader that Andrew is certainly flirting with the leftist fringe. He starts out with the usual leftist talking points. Bush said that all wiretaps require warrants in April of 2004, so he lied, since he knew the NSA was secretly tapping foreign agents calls too without warrants. Bush should have gone to Congress to revise the FISA law. Or use the retroactive ability of the FISA court. What is Andrew's answer for why Bush didn't utilize these supposed solutions?
The answer has to do with the Vietnam syndrome. No, I don’t mean the idea that the Vietnam war traumatised America so deeply that it deterred the use of military force for a generation. I mean the other Vietnam syndrome: the one held by conservative supporters of the Vietnam war, men and women who were outraged by the way in which Congress challenged the president in that previous war and are determined to restore presidential power to its pre-Vietnam condition.
A new "it's Vietnam all over again" argument! Sort of a reverse Vietnam though.

Ignoring the 1978 law, bypassing Congress, and wiretapping American citizens’ phones by presidential prerogative were deliberate policy shifts by Bush. Practically speaking, they may have been unnecessary, even pointless. But in the mind and psyches of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, it was payback time.

Call it Nixon’s revenge. The combination of Watergate and Vietnam created an environment in which executive power was deemed too dangerous to be trusted. President Ford, for whom Rumsfeld also worked, inherited a crippled presidency. Carter brandished his constitutional crutches as a matter of pride. But many conservatives seethed and waited a long time for a chance to reverse what they saw as a dangerous concession to the legislative branch.

So its all a plot by those evil neocon's Rumsfeld and Cheney. They didn't like having Congress (even though Cheney was in Congress) beat up on the powers of the President during the Nixon era.

It’s clear now that 9/11 was seen by Cheney and Rumsfeld not simply as a catastrophe but as an opportunity. Just as Karl Rove shrewdly exploited the war to divide and defeat the Democrats, so Cheney and Rummy saw a chance to reverse decades of post-Vietnam executive branch erosion.

First of all Karl didn't exploit the war to divide the Democrats. They divided themselves from the American public just fine on their own. I don't see a divided Democractic party. I see an anti-war Democratic party (with the exception of Joe Lieberman). Where is the division in the Democratic party on this issue? Who's pro-war other than Joe? There are Democrats who are trying to play both sides, but Kerry showed how that doesn't help get someone elected.

Second this is bordering on LIHOP mode. Did it ever occur to Andrew that perhaps Rummy and Cheney, and you know, Bush (he is the President), could not care less about Presidential powers going forward, but rather need to use his Presidential power under Article II to execute the war on terror? We are at war remember Andrew?
The great paradox of the Bush presidency is why a wartime commander-in-chief decided, in an hour of national emergency, not to ensure maximum consensus behind the war but in fact to push the very limits of ideological and partisan combat. The wiretaps are, to my mind, unobjectionable. In a war where intelligence is vital, where the US has terrible human intelligence but superb technological capacities, it makes a lot of sense to expand phone surveillance.
Huh? He's always tried to ensure maximum consensus. The partisans in the MSM and the Democratic party undermine him at every turn. If they aren't talking about quagmire, they are talking about how he should have caught the 9/11 hijackers the way Clinton caught the Millenium bombers, or they are talking about setting up withdrawal timetables from units in active combat.

Andrew, did it ever occur to you that perhaps the Administration couldn't reveal the plan to the public is that it was a secret and the whole nature of the operation required that our enemies thought they were impervious to wiretapping? That the fact that the program is now public means that our intelligence take from that program has now been seriously damaged? It's good to see that Andrew is on board with strengthening and passing the Patriot Act. Perhaps he can convince Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic party.

But when you could have done all of that in line with precedent and under existing law, why take this moment to push the constitutional envelope? Why undermine public trust and bipartisan consensus when you gain nothing but making an old point in an ancient, bitter argument?

Sorry Andrew, Chimpy McBushHitler is not playing constitutional law seminar with the war on terror. He's also not playing politics with the war, the Democrats are doing plenty of that for both parties.
He's conducting a war for gosh sakes.
The added irony is that Bush’s unilateral expansion of presidential power has backfired. His insistence on the right to torture detainees deeply wounded American moral standing, outraged allies, set back democratisation in Iraq, and yielded useless intelligence.
Yep all that "useless intelligence." I've got news for you Andrew, American moral standing is deeply wounded and our allies are outraged (OUTRAGED!), any time a "cowboy" Republican is in charge. And last I saw, the democratisation of Iraq was proceeding along quite nicely.

On the bright side, of course, Rummy and Cheney get to stick their fingers in a few judges’ and senators’ and liberals’ eyes.

They’ve waited three decades to get their revenge on all those Vietnam peacenik hippies; and they’ll be damned if they give an inch now. Who says old men don’t bear grudges? And who says they don’t eventually get to carry them out?

Yep that's it. Cheney and Rummy were sitting around the ol' conference table and decided that they really wanted to wiretap to piss off judges, senators, and liberals. They didn't, like, actually need it or anything. They are just old men who hold grudges.

Andrew, let me get you to read something from a blogger who wrote some very poignant things right after September 11th. He realized that America must fight a long and strange war. He thought that Rummy and Cheney and Bush were the right men for the job.

I would be a fool to predict what happens next. But it is clear that Bush will not do a Clinton. This will not be a surgical strike. It will not be a gesture. It may not even begin in earnest soon. But it will be deadly serious. It is clear that there is no way that the United States can achieve its goals without the cooperation of many other states - an alliance as deep and as broad as that which won the Gulf War. It is also clear that this cannot be done by airpower alone. As in 1941, the neglect of the military under Bill Clinton and the parsimony of its financing even under Bush must now not merely be ended but reversed. We may see the biggest defense build-up since the early 1980s - and not just in weaponry but in manpower. It is also quite clear that the U.S. military presence in the Middle East must be ramped up exponentially, its intelligence overhauled, its vigilance heightened exponentially. In some ways, Bush has already assembled the ideal team for such a task: Powell for the diplomatic dance, Rumsfeld for the deep reforms he will now have the opportunity to enact, Cheney as his most trusted aide in what has become to all intents and purposes a war cabinet.

He saw how the terrorists might feel that America might not have the stomach for the long haul in the war that was to come. But he felt that the american public would put aside partisan differences to prosecute the war to its necessary conclusion.

The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column. But by striking at the heart of New York City, the terrorists ensured that at least one deep segment of the country ill-disposed toward a new president is now the most passionate in his defense. Anyone who has ever tried to get one over on a New Yorker knows what I mean. The demons who started this have no idea about the kind of people they have taken on.

But what the terrorists are also counting on is that Americans will not have the stomach for the long haul. They clearly know that the coming retaliation will not be the end but the beginning. And when the terrorists strike back again, they have let us know that the results could make the assault on the World Trade Center look puny. They are banking that Americans will then cave. They have seen a great country quarrel to the edge of constitutional crisis over a razor-close presidential election. They have seen it respond to real threats in the last few years with squeamish restraint or surgical strikes. They have seen that, as Israel has been pounded by the same murderous thugs, the United States has responded with equanimity. They have seen a great nation at the height of its power obsess for a whole summer over a missing intern and a randy Congressman. They have good reason to believe that this country is soft, that it has no appetite for the war that has now begun. They have gambled that in response to unprecedented terror, the Americans will abandon Israel to the barbarians who would annihilate every Jew on the planet, and trade away their freedom for a respite from terror in their own land.

He understood that America is not an imperial power, that it doesn't prosecute a war to enact a political change in the separation of powers, but rather for higher ideals, namely freedom.

We cannot forsee the future. But we know the past. And that past tells us that these people who destroyed the heart of New York City have made a terrible mistake. This country is at its heart a peaceful one. It has done more to help the world than any other actor in world history. It saved the world from the two greatest evils of the last century in Nazism and Soviet Communism. It responded to its victories in the last war by pouring aid into Europe and Japan. In the Middle East, America alone has ensured that the last hope of the Jewish people is not extinguished and has given more aid to Egypt than to any other country. It risked its own people to save the Middle East from the pseudo-Hitler in Baghdad. America need not have done any of this. Its world hegemony has been less violent and less imperial than any other comparable power in history. In the depths of its soul, it wants its dream to itself, to be left alone, to prosper among others, and to welcome them to the freedom America has helped secure.

But whenever Americans have been challenged, they have risen to the task. In some awful way, these evil thugs may have done us a favor. America may have woken up for ever. The rage that will follow from this grief and shock may be deeper and greater than anyone now can imagine. Think of what the United States ultimately did to the enemy that bombed Pearl Harbor. Now recall that American power in the world is all but unchallenged by any other state. Recall that America has never been wealthier, and is at the end of one of the biggest booms in its history. And now consider the extent of this wound - the greatest civilian casualties since the Civil War, an assault not just on Americans but on the meaning of America itself. When you take a step back, it is hard not to believe that we are now in the quiet moment before the whirlwind. Americans will recover their dead, and they will mourn them, and then they will get down to business. Their sadness will be mingled with an anger that will make the hatred of these evil fanatics seem mild.

I am reminded of a great American poem written by Herman Melville after the death of Abraham Lincoln, the second founder of the country:

"There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand."

Who was that writer Andrew? I'm sure you might recognize it. It was you writing in the Times of London on September 16th. Are you part of that fifth column now Andrew?

Corner comment on Andrew Sullivan. Heh. Somebody want to throw Andrew a knife to break him out of his liberal bubble?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Comments (3)
Brian said...

For those that don't know, LIHOP is a conspiracy theory with respect with 9/11 going around the leftist circles that Bush "Let It Happen On Purpose".

Its corrolary is MIHIP: "Made It Happen On Purpose"

St Wendeler said...

Andrew is clearly in MoDo land, ascribing motivations and intentions to political leaders based on events from 30 years ago or their family background.

It's good to see that our Wizbang Sullivan Freak Out Advisory is elevated to "Filled with Heart-ache at such gobsmacking vileness".

Although, I think it's been at that level since 2004?

Monterey John said...

Kind of sad, isn't it? Sullivan is a bright guy. Seems as though he has let his emotions and pre-judgments get the best of him.