Thursday, January 07, 2010


I realize that the first few paragraphs of this Daily Beast piece by Nicolle Wallace are just Wallace's way of greasing the skids for a partisan attack by seeming to heap scorn on partisan attacks -- but, unfortunately, I can't take what follows this seriously because I'm laughing too hard at its absurdity. Emphasis added:

What If the Bomb Had Gone Off?

What if the panty-bomber had been less incompetent? ... What if, heaven forbid, that plane had blown up in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean or above Michigan? What kind of national debate would we be having?

We would be a nation in mourning. We would pick up our morning papers and read, tearfully, the tragic stories of lives cut short by the murderous determination of another jihadist.... Our political leaders would call for calm and seek to reassure Americans that it is safe to fly.

... Without a doubt, the debate about what went wrong and who is to blame for the "systemic failures" that allowed a known associate of terrorists in Yemen to board a plane bound for the U.S. without checked luggage would have taken place. But the conversation would likely be less political. The tragedy would have kept the focus on the urgent need to fix -- once and for all -- the flow of information among intelligence gatherers and security implementers....

Stop, Nicolle, you're killing me.

After saying this, Wallace gives us the boilerplate GOP critique of Obama: he hasn't fired anyone, he decided to "play half a dozen more rounds of golf and take in Avatar with the kids before returning to Washington to ride herd on the bureaucracies responsible for the breakdown," he "seem[s] to display more enthusiasm for protecting the legal rights of terrorists and detainees at Guantanamo than winning -- or even referring to -- the war against terror." The opening paragraphs quoted above seem like a mildly clever way to set up the same-old same-old: None of us would now be engaging in partisanship if anyone had died, Wallace appears to be saying, but, since we don't have hundreds of deaths to mourn -- yet -- isn't there a brief window in which it's appropriate for me to make a partisan point?

Except that this is pre-teabagger thinking, if not pre-Fox News and pre-Limbaugh thinking. No one on the right would be calling for calm if the underwear bomber had succeeded and hundreds had died. The notion is absurd.

Everyone on the left figured out years ago that the right wouldn't have "rallied around" President Gore if 9/11 had happened on his watch, and we know there'll be impeachment calls if a cataclysmic attack is successful on Obama's.

What's new now is that there's barely anyone on the right who would piously protest otherwise. The residents of Fox/Limbaugh/Teabag Nation don't even pretend anymore that they'd rally around the president in a time of crisis, as many of them insisted they would have when we denounced Bush for the Iraq invasion or Abu Ghraib or Gitmo or warrantless wiretapping. There really aren't any Republicans anymore, except for a few Wallace-like throwbacks, who believe in standing foursquare behind the president in times of crisis; thanks to the tea party movement, patriotism is equated with Obama's removal from office, or his effective nullification by a teabag-inclined Congress backed by pitchfork-wielding mobs in the streets.

So Wallace is claiming high-mindedness at a time when no one on her side wants to be high-minded. She's invoking a shared sense of moral superiority that no one on her side actually shares anymore. She's yesterday's polemicist.

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