Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

March 27, 2004

by V

FristRove's mistake

Interesting framing by Stirling Newberry:

The Floodgates [The Blogging of the President]
A scandal takes flight when three criterion are met: First, the scandal must link to a larger social sense of what is wrong. Second, it must have a continuing stream of revelation, of new facts coming to light. And finally - and most importantly, it must become stronger with each attempt to close it down.

It is this last landmine that Frist set off - by trying to attack Clarke for having been a loyal soldier of the Executive earlier - he tells every functionary in that Executive Branch that they are marked for destruction - personal political destruction - should they waver. And that their previous service would be used against them. Anything you say in support of Bush can, and will, be used against you by Bush.

This changes the complexion of loyalty. Before, when people were required to fall on their swords for Bush, it was with a promise of being taken care of - and not for defending Bush per se. The personal reputation would be protected - instead, they would be merely a person who made a mistake - rather than committed a crime.

Now, the Executive has told every functionary that they are "made" men and women, and that loyal service will now be used as blackmail. This, done in a moment of panic, when the Bush-Cheney campaign admits that they are war-rooming Clarke, means that the floodgates are opened.

Clarke already stood in for the two strands of scandal in the Bush executive - politicization of information and decision, and fixation on goals to the exclusion of good judgment. To this, Frist and others have added the fatal piece - that politics does not stop at the water's edge for high members of the Republican Party.
I've seen too many 'scandlets' come and go to leap to Newberry's conclusion that this is a Big One, but it's a mighty interesting hypothesis.

And I do think he's right about how scared the rest of Bush's loyal spinners should get now. Then again, threatening the people who do your bidding tends to have unpredictable consequences for the leader in question...

One of my worries months ago was that Bush's fall would come early enough for the Republicans to replace him on the ticket, allowing them to put forth someone more sane-seeming. I'm pretty sure it's too late for that now (primaries having been held, and all that) barring wrenching emergency measures by the Republican Party.
Posted by V at March 27, 2004 12:36 PM

There is a great deal of ruin in a Presidency. Clarke himself opens the way - as Dean did in Watergate. And the response indicates that there is more that is hidden. That will draw the press and public inexorably onward.

To where, we do not know.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry at March 27, 2004 01:37 PM

One interesting thing about Clarke is that he has backbone. He is not just sitting there playing defense, but is out there challenging the Bushies, e.g. to declassify past information.

Posted by: Todd at March 29, 2004 02:04 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

In Association with Amazon.com