TAPPED

THE BOMBTHROWERS' LEARNING...

THE BOMBTHROWERS' LEARNING CURVE. One more brief thing on Amy Sullivan 's piece . On the question of Gingrich -style bomb-throwing and oppositional PR tactics, Amy emphasizes the degree to which Democrats have improved in the last year without getting much credit for it. While I'm on record calling out the Democrats for some residual lameness on the ethics fight specifically, there's no question that this improvement is real, and is hardly ever remarked upon. Major scandal stories erupt without anyone crediting Democratic bomb-throwers for instigating them. The Dubai ports deal was a genuinely debilitating blow to Republicans; it was a story because Chuck Schumer decided to make a media stunt out of it. Nobody seems aware that he's responsible. Now, needless to say, as effective as the Democrats might get at this kind of stuff, they'll never hold a candle to the sweet , sweet scandal - mongering that TAP regularly deploys through its investigative pieces. (Recall that Joe Conason is...

THE BIG STORY:...

THE BIG STORY: STILL WAITING TO BE TOLD. Before this point gets lost in the din of the latest leak disclosures, it needs to be said, as loudly as possible, that the big story has yet to be told, and in that regard, Murray Waas 's previous scoop about Karl Rove is even more important -- and more deserving of mainstream media attention -- in light of the new revelations. In that piece, Waas reported that a classified one-page summary of the now-notorious National Intelligence Estimate was given to Bush , which says that some intelligence officials had serious doubts about the claim that Saddam wanted aluminum tubes for nukes -- and that Bush was given this summary before repeating the tubes claim in his speech. Let's state this as clearly as we can: Wass says there is a piece of paper out there which constitutes hard evidence that Bush withheld critical info from the American public as he made the most critical decision a president can make -- the decision whether to go to war. Jaded DC...

JUST POSTED ON...

JUST POSTED ON TAP: IF THEY HAD A HAMMER. Terence Samuel thinks the Democrats could stand to learn a thing or two from Tom DeLay . So now�s that moment, at the end of the fund-drive, where the hosts say you only have five more minutes to join. That�s not entirely true in our case, but still, please subscribe . This is the last you�ll hear about subscriptions for at least a few months. --The Editors

PODHORETZ FLOATS FLIMSY...

PODHORETZ FLOATS FLIMSY RIGHT-WING PUSHBACK ON LEAK STORY -- AND PUNTS. The emerging right-wing spin about the leak revelations was perfectly captured in John Podhoretz 's column today in the New York Post . Since these arguments are certain to be aired again and again in coming days, they need to be debunked, and quickly. And it's remarkably easy to do. The Pod makes three points, all of which are soon to be chanted in unison by countless winger commentators. He says : 1) The leak wasn't really a leak because it was authorized by the president, and a "leak" is the "unauthorized release of government information." This one's easy to knock down. First, a leak doesn't suddenly become a non-leak because it was secretly "authorized" by a higher-up. Plenty of info is leaked with tacit authorization from above, and we all agree to call that "leaking." This info certainly was leaked, in the sense that it was passed on confidentially by Libby to a reporter who wasn't supposed to reveal the...

THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS....

THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS. If you ask me, the real problem with the Anna Nicole Smith nipple cover is that it doesn't show enough skin. If you look at Eugene Delacroix 's original, Liberty Leading the People , the entire right breast is exposed along with a considerable portion of the left. --Matthew Yglesias

A FEATURE, NOT...

A FEATURE, NOT A BUG. Michael Tanner , Cato's health policy director, is not happy (PDF) about the Massachusetts plan: Individual mandates cross an important practical and philosophical line: once we accept the principle that it is the government�s responsibility to ensure that every American has health insurance, we guarantee even more government involvement with and control over large portions of our health care system. Compulsory, government-defined insurance opens the door to even more widespread regulation of the health care industry and political interference in personal health care decisions. The result will be a slow but steady spiral downward toward a government-run national health care system. Yahoo! --Ezra Klein

DEMOCRATIC "DISARRAY" --...

DEMOCRATIC "DISARRAY" -- COMPARED TO WHAT? I'll join with others in strongly recommending Amy Sullivan 's bracingly counter-intuitive argument that the Democrats don't actually suck. Amy is very right here. Much of her focus is on the mainstream media narratives that continue to portray Democrats as invariably weak, divided, and feckless. But MSM cluelessness is an old story -- what's frankly more troubling and frustrating is the unyielding scorn and hostility that Democratic activists and netroots folks heap on the Democratic congressional leadership. Take the question of caucus discipline. The lack of comparative context underlying liberal critics' incessant carping on this front is glaring -- compared to both recent and much more longstanding historical precedent, the current Democratic opposition has not only been disciplined and unified, but effective . Improvements can always be made, but it's simple ignorance to portray the state of the congressional caucuses under Harry Reid...

CHANGES AT THE...

CHANGES AT THE NEW REPUBLIC. Can I just say, as a twenty-something male, that I'm quite pleased with TNR 's transformation under the leadership of Frank Foer ? Last week, not only did I have a piece in the magazine, but the cover featured an Anna Nicole Smith nipple slip. This week, we get a stylized Paris Hilton look alike. Counterintuitive wonkery never looked so good. Except at The American Prospect , of course, which you should subscribe to lest you miss our upcoming "Men Of The Economic Left" cheesecake calendar. I hear we're going to make Fast Leon don a thong... --Ezra Klein

DING-DONG, THE BILL...

DING-DONG, THE BILL IS DEAD . Looks like the immigration "compromise" is dead in the water. Good. Democrats and a handful of Republicans blocked the GOP's efforts to amend the legislation into an unrecognizable mess by a 60-38 vote, and now the whole thing's off the table. Just more evidence for Amy Sullivan 's contention that the post-2004 Democratic minority is an effective opposition force that has seen far more victories than defeats. Standing firm against an already mediocre bill that James Sensenbrenner would've made reprehensible during the House-Senate conference may not seem like a major triumph, but four years ago, Democratic unity would have rapidly collapsed and the GOP would have rammed through whatever dystopic enforcement scheme their most nativist members could dream up. This week, Democrats blocked that attempt, and the country will be better for it. --Ezra Klein

SUCH SUBTLETY, SUCH...

SUCH SUBTLETY, SUCH NUANCE. As Greg Sargent notices , a leak is a leak is a leak, except when the leaker is the president. But in some ways, the more interesting wrinkle of this little saga is the ways a lie isn't a lie when the administration utters it. As others have noticed in the past, this crew deceives, misleads, and insinuates, but they rarely, rarely, lie. Take Bush 's famous statement from the investigation's early days: "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of. Now parse it. I'm sure Bush would like to know if there were any leakers in his administration. Who wouldn't want that information? And if a person violated the law, exposing the rest to criminal prosecution, I've no doubt that he'd be "taken care of." But, in this case, no laws were broken. The president can declassify...

PHILOSOPHICAL CLEAN-UP. Tom...

PHILOSOPHICAL CLEAN-UP. Tom Friedman says the Bush administration "tried to make history on the cheap. But you can't will the ends without willing the means. That is Strategic Theory 101, and ignoring it is not just some 'tactical error.'" It's not Strategic Theory 101, it's Philosophy 101 (or, in my case, Philosophy 168 ) -- Friedman's quoting Immanuel Kant here, not a military strategist. Moreover, the upshot of that doctrine is to cut against Friedman, not Rumsfeld. The point is that if you will an end -- the liberation of Iraq by force of American arms -- you're committed to taking responsibility, morally, for the means your end necessarily entails. Meaning, in this case, the unilateral invasion of Iraq overseen by the actual government of the United States deploying the resources that were actually at its disposal. Subscribers will recall Harold Meyerson 's Friedman section in his war pundits article spelling how far off this mark Friedman's been. --Matthew Yglesias

A LEAK ISN'T...

A LEAK ISN'T REALLY A LEAK. GOT THAT? The White House appears to have adopted a novel approach to spinning their way out of yesterday's explosive revelations about Scooter Libby 's testimony that President Bush authorized the leaking of classified intelligence. From today's Washington Post : A senior administration official, speaking on background because White House policy prohibits comment on an active investigation, said Bush sees a distinction between leaks and what he is alleged to have done . The official said Bush authorized the release of the classified information to assure the public of his rationale for war as it was coming under increasing scrutiny. (Emphasis added.) In other words, a leak isn't really a leak. Or it isn't really a leak when President Bush authorizes it. Or it isn't really a leak when President Bush is caught authorizing it. Or something. --Greg Sargent

CAN'T WIN IF...

CAN'T WIN IF YOU DON'T DISAGREE. I'm sensitive to concerns that there are some districts out there where a robust anti-war stance would create problems for Democrats in the fall. On the other hand, as this story indicates there are some GOP incumbents -- like Chris Shays -- for whom the war is their major vulnerability. But you can't take full advantage of that weakness unless you're really prepared to differentiate yourself with an anti-war message. For more on fake moderate Shays, visit Midterm Madness. Also, be sure to see the incomparable "Fraud Caucus" article I co-wrote with Mark "Fast Leon" Goldberg . And, of course, subscribe so you can read this sort of awesome print content when it actually comes out. --Matthew Yglesias

MAN...They're biting my...

MAN... They're biting my style, yo. Show 'em what's what and subscribe here , instead. --Ezra Klein

MOVING THE DEBATE...

MOVING THE DEBATE LEFTWARD. And this, via Jon Cohn , is why I'm enthusiastic about Mitt Romney 's presidential candidacy: Still, Mitt Romney will say this law makes him a worthy candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. And he's right. Politics should reward officials who accomplish something in office. And while it will undoubtedly annoy some progressives who don't love the plan or think he's taking credit for an idea (and favorable circumstances) that fell into his lap, they should be thankful for this development. Thankful, because nationally the most important impact of this new law may be on politics, not policy. Once Romney starts boasting about how he achieved universal health coverage in Massachusetts, it will become that much harder for conservatives to demonize the very concept as "big government." Oh, they'll try--and they'll have at least some success. But now Democrats will have this retort: If a Republican governor and leading presidential contender with...

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