The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, March 23, 2006

The ol' "bad cop, worse cop" routine

Salon's War Room is usually a good place to look for the funny and infuriating stories of the day. This one falls squarely in the latter category, although it's something we've been seeing since the Cold War.

I'll start my piece off the way they start theirs-- with a quote from RNC chair Ken Mehlman:

"Democrat leaders' talk of censure and impeachment isn't about the law or the president doing anything wrong. It's about the fact that Democrat leaders don't want America to fight the War on Terror with every tool in our arsenal."

This is scary/funny in several ways. Mehlman is THE reliable talking point regurgitation machine, so you can always assume he's delivering the official line. And this says a lot.

First, just because it's something that irritates me to no end, I'll point out his repetition of the neo-fascist schoolyard tactic of refusing to correctly say 'Democratic' in reference to the Democratic party. I've written about it before, but it continues to be a shining example of a childish-yet-inspired maneuver they've been using for decades-- and it's caught on.

Second, the sheer aburdity of the (why yes, it IS a straw man!) argument that Democrats are running on a "soft on terrorism" platform.

Third, as the Salon piece explains, it suggests that this week's presidential speechifying is part of a new White House tactic that makes, if anything, too much sense in an election year. To sum it up: "Forget bin Laden-- the terrorists are here, and they're running against me."

But Newsweek's Howard Fineman suggests that there's something else going on here, too. With the "educator in chief" business not working -- at some point, even Bush's advisors have to realize that the problem with Iraq isn't that the president hasn't explained it enough -- the White House is making a pivot to Plan B: Forget the Global War on Terror; now it's time for the War Against Terrorists Inside the Homeland. And as part of the usual "with us or with the terrorists" theme, the War Against Terrorists Inside the Homeland also means the War Against the Traitor Media and those Spineless, Security-Hating Democrats, Too.

As Fineman explains it, the White House and the GOP are fixing to set up Bush as some sort of tough-guy cop fighting against the "wussie lovers of legalistic niceties that get in the way of investigations and MSM news organizations that focus obsessively on explosions and mayhem in Iraq, even as they print or broadcast classified information and ask nasty, argumentative questions at hastily called press conferences." The underlying strategy: Move away from all the Iraq talk and get back to the question of homeland security.

Cunning? Check. Dishonest? Check. Carfeully designed to exploit partisan hatred? Check. Gentlemen, I think we've found our strategy.