February 14, 2006
is facing two crises -- one phony and one real. Both in the media
and in politics, the phony crisis is getting virtually all 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.
the New York Times published the news and made a big
noise about it have politicians begun to declare their shock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
this all-out attempt to damage the President at all costs makes
any threat of the use of military force less credible with the
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.
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
the real crisis that is being overshadowed by the phony political
2006 Creators Syndicate