Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Peter Daou Is Almost Right.

Atrios has linked to a couple of excellent but pessimistic posts by Peter Daou, in which he deconstructs the reasons why liberals and Democrats have been so ineffective in countering Republicans in general, and how they will fail to make the latest NSA spying scandal stick in particular.

On the whole, I think he is disturbingly accurate about the disconnect between the out-of-touch, don't-rock-the-boat Democratic party establishment and the eloquent, and passionate liberal netroots, but it seems to me that he overlooks one very important fact: The law doesn't care. Fitzgerald doesn't care. The Republicans and their media allies can lie and spin all they want, but they can't make indictments go away, and they're piling up. "Duke" Cunningham's already fessed up and resigned. DeLay, Libby, possibly Frist, possibly a whole mess of congresscritters on Abramoff's payroll, are all under indictment now or in the near future. Even a wholly corporate-owned media can't bury that, much less prevent it. And that will be a drag on Republican attempts to further consolidate their power in the 2006 and 2008 elections - especially those candidates who are indicted or otherwise tainted by scandal.

Indeed, Daou himself makes this remarkable statement about this latest outrage:
The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness.
When a party's strategy is to "blend" new scandals in with a steaming pile of other scandals, I think it's safe to say they could be in some serious electoral jeopardy, especially at the state and local level. For while that approach may be successful at the national level, I am fairly certain that the voters in indictees' states and districts will echo Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinnie: "Oh yeah. You blend."

This leaves only the president, who, if I understand the process correctly, can only be brought to trial via the impeachment process, which is really quite extraordinary - imagine a murder suspect who has confessed, but can only be indicted if his enemies outvote his friends. Also, what happens if the FOIA succeeds and the NSA is forced to release their list of wiretappees, and one or more of them decide to sue? Could they sue the president, or only the federal government in general? Could Bush face criminal charges when he leaves office? Can any law-talkin' folks help me out here?

In any case, even if there is no impeachment, Bush is still gone in 2009. And if a wave of scandals washes away a whole bunch of Republican reps and senators in 2006, then Bush's reign of terror is effectively over, which is a very important short-term goal.

10 comments:

flory said...

Thanks, Eli.

I was extremely depressed after I read the Daou piece. It seemed like such an accurate depiction of the last 5 years.

But you're right -- this does go beyond scandal and into illegality so maybe there is some hope. (Course the same could be said about Gitmo and torturegate...)

Eli said...

There was no-one *prosecuting* Gitmo and Torturegate, at least not past the "bad apples" level. And there probably is no provable crime there at the senior level.

But I remember thinking about this as the trolls relentlessly tried to spin Plamegate, and wondering what it was they hoped to achieve. Maybe they really *do* think they can create reality.

(Verification word is "fralph". Awesome.)

Phila said...

I tend to agree with your analysis, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm angling for sex.

The conspiratorial side of me wonders whether certain people have simply decided that Bush's services are no longer needed, and are busy preparing a new figurehead for similar policies. But putting that scenario aside, I think Daou is dead wrong about "scandal fatigue." Perhaps that'd be a serious factor in a country that was otherwise doing well, but God knows that's not the case here. BushCo's done too much stuff that upsets too many people - I'm thinking less of breaking laws, here, than of making staunch supporters look like idiots - and the disaffection seems to be snowballing, if anything.

IMO, 90% of the dead-enders are holding out 'cause they can't bear to give up the vicarious, imaginary power Bush "gave" them. Once they have some new fraud to rally 'round, I suspect they'll drop Bush like a hot potato.

Eli said...

I'm wondering if maybe "scandal fatigue" is a fallacy akin to the hot water ice cube fallacy.

I have no idea where it came from, but apparently there's some piece of folk wisdom that you should use warm or hot water to make ice cubes, because it'll freeze faster. And because of the increased temperature differential, the cubes do indeed freeze faster... just not *sooner*, because they're farther from freezing to begin with.

In the case of "scandal fatigue", it may be true that each new scandal carries less and less weight when compared to the massive scandal pile, but it *still* makes the pile higher.

watertiger said...

but. . . .warm water . . . .

oh, never mind.

And yes, you're spot on. As usual.

ntodd said...

Since you don't have trackbacks, here's an OT comment: tag, you're it.

Neil Shakespeare said...

"Scandal Blending". That's new one! You suppose you can major in that at Bob Jones University?

Eli said...

Mmm... Scandal smoothie...

I like to mix cocoa and bananas in mine.

Elmo said...

Even a wholly corporate-owned media can't bury that, much less prevent it.

He doesn't care about the law. The Supreme Court will decide his fate...that's why he is trying to pack it full of friendly wingnuts. Harriet Miers was his ace in the hole...Oops!

Eli said...

He doesn't care about the law. The Supreme Court will decide his fate...that's why he is trying to pack it full of friendly wingnuts.

Well, for one thing, I think most of the damage is going to be at the lower levels (advisors & congresscritters); and for another, I'm not so sure that an eventual overrule by the Supreme Court is going to be enough to wash away the taint of the original conviction. Especially if everyone thinks the Supreme Court is a partisan Republican body.