Friday, February 15, 2008

Oh, George II--oh, the rest of us

No matter how cynical I get it's just so darned hard to keep up.

The hope that dwells side by side with that cynicism, and is larger than it is (most of the time) pushes me back where I belong but sometimes I just want to dwell on it.

Now we have the President saying that if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not renewed now there will be a "gap" in our security because he won't accept any more extensions and he will veto any bill that gives the telecommunications companies immunity from civil suits.

Leave aside who it will that is responsible from any consequences from a lapse in the law if he uses his veto pen, at least for a moment.

No, let's not. One thinks of the hero of Blazing Saddles holding a gun to his own throat and threatening the crowd "One more step and the ______ gets it." When the crowd steps back, one of them saying "Wait a minute, Boys, I think he means it," our hero retires and asks how they can be so dumb. It's a question that reverberates through the decades.

But there will be no gap if FISA in its current form expires. FISA in its current form foresaw a future stalemate and, by its terms, its provisions remain in place until this summer even if it is not renewed.

So, who's so dumb here? Is it George in that he doesn't know this? Hmmmm. No. It's us because we don't know it. We're dumb because our news coverage hasn't been telling us this since Congress and the President started lining up for this game of chicken.

It's about the hero and the villain (you choose which is which) fighting on the brink of the canyon, where the river wends its way a thousand feet below. Except they really aren't on the brink of a canyon and the "below" into which one or the other will fall is three feet or so and there's plenty of padding to break the loser's fall. It just looks dramatic and dangerous because of the camera angle from which we are viewing it.

No comments: