On Friday, I attempted to make the point that the NSA data collection story was a big deal politically, but was not a serious “issue.” And yet the story rolls on. In fact it rolls on enough that the line that the “IRS scandal is solved” has some traction. We have a new and juicier scandal, or so we think.
Yesterday, Michael Medved got a tweet half right:
NSA “snooping” issue is terrible for GOP- divides the base, gives Obama a controversy in which his behavior is entirely defensible
It is terrible for the GOP and it does divide the base, but the actions are not “entirely” defensible. (Obama is on defensible ground on this one, but it is a soft position and not therefore “entirely” defensible.) Were this the Bush administration, I think this would be evident but when we have an administration that we despise to begin with, looks increasingly like it abused the power of office to gain re-election, and is feckless in foreign affairs we are, as we have before, rising to the bait.
Simply put the story is too complex to ever amount to a useful political tool other than as further evidence that this administration has no veracity. People are never going to sit through the endless and dull discussions of the differences between data mining and eavesdropping. The very phrase “complex algorithm,” save as a punch line on “The Big Bang Theory,” is a nap inducer. And yet we have lost several news cycles on this stuff now, while something everyone can hear “The IRS is going to bully you” has gone unsaid.
Religion is an excellent analogy here. Mitt Romney lost in 2008 because people wanted to debate his theology rather than look at his life and the fruits thereof. He lost in 2012 because a significant portion of the base refused to trust him because, essentially, he would not enter the debate on his theology. Most of the American people do not care about theology – let alone specific Mormon theology. And there are a lot of Christians in that group. But enough people did to swing the election, so Obama’s lapdog media made sure it was a big deal, even though it was not.
Well, here we are again. With the IRS, not to mention Benghazi, the DOJ, the EPA and a bunch of other alphabet spaghetti, we have Obama by the short and curlies. But this warrant and the related issues are, for enough of us, a juicy distraction. “SQUIRREL!”
Is the administration well-behaved here? No, of course not, but there are issues and then there are issues. If you had a choice of having a little dog doo stuck to your shoes or being dragged out of town, you’re going to take the dog doo. That’s what’s up here. The snooping issue is deliberately stepping in the pile of dog doo in hopes that by the time everybody gets through saying “Don’t come in here until you clean that up” and “Ewwwwwwww,” they will have forgotten why they were getting set to lynch you and send you about your business. For this stratagem to work, we have to be more obsessed with the dog doo that the real and serious issues that got us to this point.
Squirrel hunting is fun, but I am after big game – which means I have to stay focused, and can’t waste ammo on the squirrels.