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Barney Fife Tries an Extreme Makeover


Howard Fineman presents a new piece of Beltway Buzz in Newsweek that made me laugh.

I saw the rushes the other day when the Republican National Committee released the text of a radio ad and Bush held a hastily called press conference. The revamped story line is WATITH (the “war against terrorists inside the homeland”) and it will feature Bush not as Top Gun, but as Top Gumshoe: a mix of Eliot Ness, J. Edgar Hoover and Agent Jack Bauer.

And Bush/Bauer’s enemies will be different: not just the terrorists themselves, but also wussie lovers of legalistic niceties that get in the way of investigations and MSM news organizations that focus obsessively on explosions and mayhem in Iraq, even as they print or broadcast classified information and ask nasty, argumentative questions at hastily called press conferences.

It takes some chutzpah to do this rewrite, given the latest run of stories about the pre-9/11 terrorism signals that were missed by the new Bush administration. But the White House’s strategic bet—and it’s a pretty good one—is that Bush has a better chance of playing Tough Cop than any prominent figure in the Democratic Party, in or out of Congress.

All of this is supposed to reassure Republican congressional candidates who are worried about the concrete blocks now fastened to their ankles in the form of the president’s job-approval and national right-direction/wrong-track numbers.

Once I stopped laughing at the image of Barney Fife, who can’t even clean his gun without shooting himself in the foot (or without his top deputy shooting his hunting buddy in the face…but that’s another story), I remembered the Nagourney and Bumiller story from this morning.

And I remembered the Bush echo chamber that is a whole lot of the press corps these days.  Since they control a lot of the information that gets out to the general public, well…that Barney Fife Extreme Makeover seems a bit more likely to gain traction, at least among the wavering Republican numbers set.

So, here’s what I would like to do.  And I need your help.  Let’s gather as much information as we can find — hard facts, not speculative stuff please — about what has not been done by this Administration to protect the nation since 9/11. 

I want to do a regular series of posts about what ought to be done — what is necessary for real, honest to goodness, homeland security.  And what hasn’t been done in the last five years.  All of it — every last thing.  But I’m only one human being, running after a 3-year-old half the time, so any help you all could do on research would be most appreciated.  And knowing the crack research skills that some of you have — ooooh, I can’t wait to read the comments thread.

They want a fight about the safety of the Homeland?  Well, let’s take it to them: sorry, Georgie, you don’t get to hide behind incompetence and spin. 

Accountability starts here.

(Graphics love to TVCrazy.  Many thanks to Froomkin for linking to the Feinman piece in today’s White House Briefing.  Most helpful.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com