Kevin Drum is a smart guy, and I don't disagree with him lightly. (Note: he also always brings beer to the party). That said, he's wrong here:
I agree that the David Broders of the world have been far too sanguine about the abuses of the Bush administration. At the same time, the difference here really is pretty obvious. Nixon broke the law repeatedly for purely political purposes: to help his friends, punish his enemies, and keep tabs on domestic groups he happened to personally dislike. There was no ideological dispute about the value of what Nixon did: once it became clear that he had actually done the stuff he was accused of, liberals and conservatives alike agreed that he had to go.
Obviously that's not the case this time around. So far, anyway, there's no evidence that George Bush has done anything wrong for purely venal purposes. He approved torture of prisoners and violated FISA because he genuinely thought it was necessary for national security reasons after 9/11 . . .
Thing is, he did start unlawful surveillance of Americans before 9/11:
Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.
Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio's lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records.
GWBushCo's interest in wiretapping was to further a Big Brother agenda, an Orwellian scheme to collect data on everyone, to identify alleged enemies, foreign and domestic. And it started at the beginning of his administration, and was deemed OK by Cheney, and later Gonzales, et al.
That people who call themselves conservative would align themselves to this agenda is unforgivable. Totalitarian, Fascist, take your pick. But not Conservative. I wonder what Barry Goldwater would have thought. Of course, he would be accused by these idiots of having a pre-9/11 mentality.
Is GWBush venal? No, not in the sense that Merriam-Webster says:
- 1: capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration : purchasable; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery : mercenary venal legislator>
- 2: originating in, characterized by, or associated with corrupt bribery venal arrangement with the police>
Of that I'm pretty sure.