Abu Gonzales, meet Russ Feingold.
Feingold‘s first question – “do you know of any one in the country who opposed eavesdropping on terrorists?”
Gonzales: “Sure – if you look at blogs today, there is a lot of concern about all types of eavesdropping, who don’t want us eavesdropping at all.
Feingold: Do you know anyone in government who ever took that position?
Gonzales: No, but that is not what I said.
Feingold: It is a disgrace and disservice to your office and the President to have accused people on this Committee of opposing eavesdropping on terrorists.
Gonzales: I didn’t have you in mind or anyone on the Committee when I referred to people who oppose eavesdropping on terrorists. Perish the thought.
Feingold: Oh, well it’s nice that you didn’t have us “in your mind” when making those accusations, but given that you and the President were running around the country accusing people of opposing eavesdropping on terrorists in the middle of an election, the fact that you didn’t have Congressional Democrats in “mind” isn’t significant. Your intent was to make people think that anyone who opposed the “TSP” did not want to eavesdrop on terrorists, even though that was false. No Democrats oppose eavesdropping on terrorists.
Gonzales: I wasn’t referring to Democrats.
So it was just a grave misunderstanding Republicans hinged their 2006 campaign on cynical attacks on their political opponents. Not at all, they really meant bloggers. With messaging skill like that it’s no wonder they lost.
Now I’m curious. Who are we talking about here? Off the top of my head I can’t think of any bloggers who thought that we shouldn’t eavesdrop on terrorists. Gonzales now admits that opposing the warrantless eavesdropping program on constitutional grounds does not automatically equate with supporting terrorists, and yet that is exactly the basis on which the bloggers whom I know about opposed the program. While we wait for Gonzales to substantiate his slander v2.0 (could be a while, eh?), let’s see whether the GOP’s internet supporters can back him up.
So, who was abu Gonzales talking about? Remember that opposing the program simply because warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens violates FISA no longer counts. You need to find somebody who argued that we shouldn’t eavesdrop on terrorists, period. And gosh, this has to be one influential blogger to spark such a hysterical reaction from the width and breadth of the Republican party.
Or, we could be honest with ourselves. The endless, slanderous supporting-the-terrorists rhetoric was meant to have a shelf life of about two months. The point was to fan hate and fear among the base long enough to give the Party its usual jingoistic bump and then hope everybody forgets about it. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here, that’s always the plan.
Once you cross that kind of Rubicon a grown man has basically two choices. he could own up to it and say to Feingold’s face, yeah, I think you don’t want to surveil terrorists. bin Laden-lover. Or he can own up and apologize for pretending that Democrats were one small step removed from traitors to the Republic. Taking the weasel way out insults his intelligence and ours.