The Plank

Daily Affirmations 4/22


There were no daily affirmations yesterday. (I said I'm a tough critic.) Today the internet has done more to please me:

1. Jonathan Martin notes that the Republican Party's ability to trip up a Democratic President with manufactured cultural outrage pseudo-scandals has suddenly disappeared:

A Democratic president thrills a French audience by telling it that
America has been “arrogant.” He brushes aside 50 years of
anti-communist orthodoxy by relaxing restrictions against Fidel
Castro’s Cuba. He directs his attorney general to ease a crackdown on
medical marijuana and even plays host to the Grateful Dead in the Oval

Several times a month in his young presidency, Barack Obama has done
things that cause conservatives to bray, using the phrase once invoked
by Bob Dole, “Where’s the outrage?!”

The outrage is definitely there, in certain precincts of Republican
politics. What’s notable, however, is that it mostly has stayed there —
with little or no effect on Obama.

Martin persuasively attributes the change to the further receding into the pastof the 1960s, the coming of age of the liberal media counter-structure, the overriding importance of the economy, and the collapse of the GOP's credibility. Good point, Jonathan Martin!

2. Tim Noah refutes former Bush speechwriter Mark A. Thiessen, who had argued that torture foiled a key terrorist plot, by noting that it would be difficult for a 2003 waterboarding to foil a 2002 attack:

In a White House press briefing,
Bush's counterterrorism chief, Frances Fragos Townsend, told reporters
that the cell leader was arrested in February 2002, and "at that point,
the other members of the cell" (later arrested) "believed that the West Coast plot has been canceled, was not going forward" [italics mine]. A subsequent fact sheet released by the Bush White House states, "In 2002, we broke up
[italics mine] a plot by KSM to hijack an airplane and fly it into the
tallest building on the West Coast." These two statements make clear
that however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got—an
unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a "disrupted plot" was "ludicrous"—that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.

could Sheikh Mohammed's water-boarded confession have prevented the
Library Tower attack if the Bush administration "broke up" that attack
during the previous year? 

Good point, Tim Noah!

3. And in response to Karl Rove's claim that prosecuting members of the previous administration for illegal acts would make the U.S. like a banana republic, Steve Benen argues that the more salient characteristic of a banana republic is that the presidential administration carries out illegal acts in the first place:

You see, in Rove World, the way to avoid becoming a banana
republic is to have a chief executive who ignores the rule of law.
Then, the chief executive is replaced, and his/her successor must
ensure there are no consequences for those who ignored the rule of law
in the recent past.

Good point, Steve Benen!

--Jonathan Chait


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