The occasion for their latest unmanning came in the debate over the Feingold censure resolution. The Senate Republicans basically tried to do what they did to the Murtha resolution on Iraq -- distort the language to change its meaning, allow no extended debate, and bring it up for a quick vote to shoot it down -- but this time Senate Democrats wouldn't let them get away with it. (The NY Times is framing this as a defeat for the Democrats, but I think it's a wise tactical retreat.)
During all this, Sen. Arlen Specter set a new low in the history of congressional overlook:
Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who has expressed reservations about the surveillance, said Mr. Feingold had failed to make a case for censure over what amounts to a dispute over the legal basis of the program.So we can break the law if we're acting in good faith? Ignorance is no defense, but warm and fuzzy thoughts are? Outstanding.
"The president may be wrong," Mr. Specter said, "but he has acted in good faith."
Jeez, talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. This isn't Field Day at the local special education school, where everyone gets a ribbon just for showing up and trying hard. This is the President of the United States willingly breaking the law and promising to break it again.
And "good faith" would seem to imply that while he was doing this warrantless wiretapping, the president wasn't at the same time lying to the American people and insisting he wasn't doing anything of the sort. The new GOP line is that the president has always had the power to act like a king and ignore the law, but if that's true -- and if it is, it's news to me -- then why was the president lying about this on the campaign trail? "A wiretap requires a court order," he said in April 2004, several years after he'd been doing the opposite. Still, he insisted, "Nothing has changed."
Something has changed, alright. The Republican Congress that was screaming "rule of law!" in their rush to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about sex now doesn't care at all about the rule of law.
This president has admitted he broke the law, but like a battered wife, the Republican Congress is still insisting it was their own fault for passing such a stupid law in the first place and bothering the president when he's got so much stuff going on down at work. The president means well, and he really loves the country, even when he beats it up. You just don't know him like they do. He's a good man, officer. He didn't mean it.