Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Maureen Dowd is missing some of the forces at play -- unsurprisingly, she sees nothing more than a battle between a couple of Real Men and one inadequate male -- but I have to admit that she's more or less right about what's going on:

It isn't so much that Dick and Rummy are back. It's that they never left.

They had no intention of turning America's national security over to the Boy Wonder. The two best infighters in Washington history weren't yielding turf to a bunch of peach-fuzz pinkos who side with terrorists.

She imagines a Cheney-Rumsfeld dinner and starts to reconstruct the crime correctly, then goes off the rails:

Dick is looking over at himself on the TV behind the bar, where Fox is doing a segment about how Republicans on the Sunday talk shows praised him for his shock-and-awe campaign against Obama.

"I can't believe how easy it was to bring Obama into line," Rummy says, gnawing on Gorgonzola. "We wouldn't have needed waterboarding if everybody cracked like a peanut. It was even easier than getting the bit into Junior's mouth. Way simpler than if we'd had to contend with McCain. In the end, the right guy won."

You're there, MoDo, when you write, "Fox is doing a segment about how Republicans on the Sunday talk shows praised him." This isn't a Great Man thing. It's a Republican zone-flooding thing. It seems to have been largely Cheney's doing, but it didn't have to be Cheney -- the leader of the pushback against Obama's decision to close Guantanamo has been Mitch McConnell, fer crissake. It's not the manliness of the leader, it's the efficiency of the system: message plus message discipline plus message machine.

(Oh, and the line about McCain is just absurd. McCain was a good, obedient wingnut cadre all throughout the '08 campaign, from his VP pick to his McCarthyite ads and speeches.)

And the "liberal media" always cooperates. Politico:

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that terrorism coverage accounted for 22 percent of the news hole it measured from May 11-17.

Few of those stories were the kind Obama wants to read.

In just about all of those stories -- and I'm not even sure the "just about" is necessary -- Republicans set the terms of the debate, while Democrats did what Democrats always do:

Republican have tried for months to keep up a drumbeat on Gitmo, and some Democrats have been frustrated that there has been a vacuum on their side.

How many more decades are we going to have to wait before Democrats learn to anticipate the inevitable Republican attempt to flood the zone of every controversial subject? How many more decades before they actually learn that they need to head off this zone-flooding with preemptive messaging of their own? And when are they going to learn to give one another backup? (Yes, I'm talking to you, Harry Reid.)

So it's not just the fault of the "Boy Wonder," MoDo. It's the parties, stupid. And the press, which gets played by the GOP every time.

And yes, I know Obama has frustrated the left on a number of terrorism-related issues, as Dowd notes. I cut him some slack for that. But he's stood firm on Gitmo so far and he's released at least some vital information on torture. And he has no backup. That's not his weakness. It's his party's.

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