Monday, July 18, 2005

Democrats are angling for the “abuse of power” narrative

When I first heard the Karl Rove story, my immediate reaction was that if a top White House aide “outed” a covert CIA case officer, there could be no excuse. Now it’s become clear that:
- Valerie Plame was not a covert agent
- There’s no possible interpretation of the law indicating Rove did anything illegal
- Joseph Wilson’s actions before and since his African trip indicate he’s less concerned with national security than manufacturing a political issue

Everything Mark Steyn wrote the other day is spot-on: “Nadagate” is (in the words of Powerline) “the most miniscule "scandal" in history” which “keeps getting smaller and smaller.”

Meanwhile, Democrats who insist they only want to get to the bottom of this issue have wasted more time castigating Rove than requesting that jailed reporter Judith Miller reveal her Plame source. The dirty truth is that this microscandal is the Democrats best – and maybe only – hope to regain relevance in American politics. But first, let’s return to the Matt Bai article (referenced below):

Cutter's war room began churning out mountains of news releases hammering daily at the G.O.P.'s ''abuse of power.'' In an unusual show of discipline, Democrats in the Senate and House carried laminated, pocket-size message cards -- ''DEMOCRATS FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY, AGAINST ABUSE OF POWER,'' blared the headline at the top -- with the talking points on one side and some helpful factoids about Bush's nominees on the other. During an appearance on ''This Week With George Stephanopoulos'' in April, Senator Charles Schumer of New York needed all of 30 seconds to invoke the ''abuse of power'' theme -- twice.
Without any policies to call their own, Democrats have decided that the political landscape should be shaped by the allegation of Republican “abuse of power.” The GOP controls everything, they argue, and it has led to unchecked control of legislation and the federal courts. This was their argument for the filibuster wars, the Social Security reform fight, and now the Supreme Court battle. The Rove/Plame something plays into the “abuse” angle by conjuring up a pseudo-scandal and then excoriating the White House on a daily basis for acting like an independent branch of the government. Can the Sith Lord references be far behind?

This the state of a political party that cannot even formulate an opinion on the cornerstone of New Deal politics. With no issues to run on, Democrats are now entirely defined by their opposition to the Republicans. The "abuse of power" argument is a perfectly logical extension of their deep-seated belief that Americans really want to vote Democratic, since it's self-evident (to them) that too many Republicans are a threat to the country.

President Bush may have slipped in the polls recently but this molecular-level scandal will disappear soon enough along with the “abuse of power” mantra, especially if obstructionist Democrats thwart tradition and deny a Supreme Court nominee an up-or-down vote. The hollow rallying cry of “there are too many Republicans” may stir the Howard Dean crowd but it isn’t an election winner.

Extra – Reliapundit lists all the abuses of power bogus Bush scandals over at Astute Blog.

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