The T-word, the L-word —
    and our old friend Pat Roberts

We now know Bush’s line on the wiretaps: flog “terrorism,” vaguely assert legality—and trust the senator who can always be counted on to stonewall.

I called it: the Bush strategy on the NSA wiretaps is to flog the T-word and vaguely assert legality. (Article here; transcript here.)

We now have a “terrorist surveillance program,” and we can all breathe easier knowing that our President “had all kinds of lawyers review the process.” (He must have been worried: had they told him it was illegal, he would of course have had to stop.)

Special “laughter and applause,” according to the White House transcript, greeted the question, “You know, it’s amazing, when people say to me, well, he was just breaking the law—if I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?” An excellent question. If I wanted to break the law, I might not, in fact, “brief Congress.” But I might leave most of Congress in the dark and confide instead in Senator Pat Roberts, Bush’s companion at his speech yesterday and a man demonstrably willing to work with Dick Cheney to stonewall Congressional investigations into intelligence matters. It was Roberts’ stonewalling that provoked Harry Reid into throwing Congress into a closed session last fall to force some answers.

They’ve thrown their best pitch now. Time for us to swing. And time to see whether John McCain feels like playing catcher—or throws down his mask in disgust.

Author: Andrew Sabl

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.

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