STRAIGHT HOGWASH. John McCain stopped by the studios of Meet The Press last Sunday, where he was greeted by David Gregory, who is somewhat less of a regular on MTP than the senator is. The conversation got around to the NSA wiretapping decision last week, and the Straight Talker went right to the manure wagon. In fact, "most constitutional scholars" don't believe anything like what the senator attributes to them.
Some believe Judge Taylor's decision to be flawed in its argumentation, and some of them believe its rhetoric to be impolite. (Not me, God knows.) Glenn Greenwald has done a good job correcting the most obvious misinformation coming from the most fervent of these folks. But on the fundamental question of whether or not the president of the United States has the inherent authority to order wiretaps on American citizens without probable cause or a warrant, and in defiance of settled federal law on the subject in the form of the FISA statute, there are an awful lot of constitutional scholars who find the notion publicly risible. (Most of these folks, admittedly, don't draw a paycheck from the Executive branch.) Ultimately, McCain gives the game away by: a) almost immediately blowing a lot of the now-customary smoke about the London bombing plot; and b) endorsing wholeheartedly Arlen Specter's magical realist approach to checks and balances. Question for the senator's many admirers: Is there any doubt that McCain would have launched this program himself, and the law be damned?
--Charles P. Pierce