On Tuesday morning, I opened my email box to find a furious note from a good friend about David Brooks's column that day on Lewis Libby. She quoted one sentence only, which was as much as she could stomach:
"The drama opened," Brooks wrote, "as these dark comedies are wont to do, with a strutting little peacock who went by the unimaginative name of Joe Wilson."
Her fury spilled out in her spot-on comments -
"He 'went by' the name of Joe Wilson just kills me, first of all," she began, incredulous that someone named David Brooks would call the name Joe Wilson "unimaginative."
And she continued indignant, the venom spewing. But understandable as her reaction was, there was another, happier perspective I told her, one that might give some peace and comfort.
Sure, as insanely stupid as David Brooks's words here are to read, they not only don't matter, they are counter-productive. Republicans buried their heads last year, blasting "cut-and-run" Democrats...ignoring the pesky reality that 65% of the country agreed with the Democrats. The result was that Republicans got crushed in the election and lost control of both houses of Congress. And now, conservative analysts are lauding the commutation of Lewis Libby's sentence...ignoring pesky reality again that 80% of the country is against a pardon,
Perspective: it's hard getting 80% of Americans to agree on anything, including whether the sun is a good thing.
Perspective II: If you think the public sees "commute" and doesn't read "pardon," you're mistaken.
The more these crack conservative analysts blather, the more it angers the 75% of Americans furious at this President and at this war, and entrenches their anger. So - honestly - I'm not upset when I read it. After all, Republicans have a lovely habit of doing this, and shooting themselves in their foot, or friends' faces.
Apparently, joyful conservatives are so blinded by their bliss that they really think the public doesn't get it. That the public doesn't grasp the concept of paying hush money to keep an aide from talking after being convicted in court of obstruction of justice, thereby blocking an investigation directly into your office.
The public gets it. The public saw The Godfather, Part II. They saw Mafia lawyer Tom Hagen tell the would-be Mob informant Frank Pentangeli that his family would be protected if he fell on his sword. The public understands that Lewis Libby fell on his sword and his family is now being protected by Don Corleone. "Common sense" is called that not because it's so special, but because...it's common.
Conservatives and President George Bush can try to justify this commuting/pardon by saying it's in his power to do this. But of course, they're ignoring that just because a president has the power to do something doesn't mean that that power can't be abused. And abuse of power is an impeachable offense.
But mainly, what Brooks and his fellow-conservative crack analysts are ignoring in their defense of this painfully obvious, shameless, indefensible act by their beloved party leader is that President George Bush has a 26% approval rating, and certain to go lower now. David Brooks and such may be celebrating the commuting/pardoning, and then writing crack analyses to shore up the crumbling base - but that base is not only all George Bush has left, but focusing on it is the very reason Brooks and Republicans have gotten into the deep hole they're in. Moderate and liberal Republicans have been fleeing the party in droves. In 2004, Americans were split in their party affiliation, literally 50-50. Today, there is a 15 point advantage to Democrats.
So, let David Brooks and conservative analysts defend the indefensible. Doing so only serves to make themselves happy in blind isolation and infuriate the other 74% of the country, which is getting angrier by the word.
And make no mistake, lest Republicans think otherwise, this is not a mere act that President George Bush can get away with because he's a lame duck. Every Republican candidate will be asked their opinion of the commutation/pardon, and it appears they all are defending it, the indefensible. Further, whoever gets the Republican nomination, he will be asked during the presidential debates, and you just know the Democratic candidate will be sure to point it out, repeatedly. Rather than being an isolated act by an isolated President, this commutation/pardon is actually the gift that keeps giving.
So, no, don't get angry by what the babbling Brooks of the world write. Yes, it was stupid - insanely stupid - but each word is another nail in the conservative Republican coffin.
I look forward to any Republican trying to defend it. It will only serve to remind and solidify the other 74%. Here's the shovel. There's the hole. Dig deeper. Bring it on. (™ George Bush.)