The Right Coast

February 19, 2006
Better luck next scandal
By Tom Smith

When a media and liberal punditocracy driven scandal tips over the ridge and starts to roll down the hill into the marsh of yesterday's news, nobody helpfully rings a bell. Instead, the story that never was, but might have been, merely forms yet another layer of sediment that will be dredged up in tomorrow's revisionist histories. Judge for yourself, but that is what it appears to me is happening now with the NSA scandalette. It is far from clear there will even be hearings in the Senate Intelligence Committee, seeing as the White House appears to be holding firm. If you watch, you can see this again and again. Some fuss in the press. Hill gets involved. Various solons posture. Press huffs and puffs. White House "stonewalls". (Personally, I like stone walls.) Gradually, press and solons decide that the American People require them to turn their attention elsewhere. But boy, they sure showed the White House a thing or two.

For what little it may be worth, here is my prediction. There aren't going to be any broad-ranging, news-making hearings in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Ain't gonna happen. Why? Because the WH won't go for it, and is willing to stand firm on this, probably because W is personally involved, what with feeling personally responsible for protecting American lives. Being in the big chair on 9/11 probably does that to you. And standing in the ashes of the WTC. The Senate Judiciary Committee may come up with some recommendations for changing FISA; it would be difficult to make it any worse. Ambitious Rep. Heather of Coyotebone, New Mexico, the USAF and whatever college she was at at Oxford, will dither about trying to attract attention, but when she realizes this is not the ICBM to fame she thought it might be, will move on herself. She looks like a lady who knows the main chance when she sees it, and she will figure out soon enough this ain't it. Better luck next time, Heather. Especially given that other Republicans on the committee are not going to make it any easier for her. There may be some kind of "deal" under which the branch in charge of foreign policy promises to run more stuff by the FISA court and/or keep those watchdogs of our liberties on the Hill more informed. This is called, allowing the political branch to save face after the WH tells them, that the NSA program is in fact going to go on, and no, they are not all going to learn all about it. You might see some screeching in places like The Nation that the WH has simply defied Congress, and they will be right. (They often are -- their problem is that they are on the wrong side) Various MSM wise persons and bloggers will probably not run big stories proclaiming that their prognostications of another Watergate or whatever were, well, rather a lot of overheated piffle. No, indeed. Instead, attention will move on. No one ever said there was going to be a big dust up over this, did they, with the Supreme Court solemnly instructing the White House and NSA to tell the brave Senators everything they want to know? Nope, nobody ever said that would happen.