For the moment, the press seems to be doing a good job covering and maybe even enjoying the multiple troubles besetting the President – Libby, Walter Reed, Gonzales, one after another. This is fun I would not like to forego. But, I suspect, the President will not change course. Being gloated over may only make him dig in.
The press, therefore, needs to keep its eye on the ball, to continue its new-found skeptical, aggressive approach. This Administration has remarkable gift for slippery inventions to work around the law and keep its moves hidden. Take the case of Iran. A direct war with Iran – an attack – may too unpopular to risk right now, but there could be other ways.
For example, the Boston Globe reported on March 21 that “the State Department and the Pentagon are quietly seeking congressional approval for significant new military sales to U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf region. The move is part of a broader American strategy to contain Iranian influence by strengthening Iran’s neighbors and signaling that the United States is still a strong military player in the Middle East.” Who knows?—we may be able to use trade as war by other means.
At home, the press should keep in mind that the President and allies are probably not stymied by the fuss over Gonzales. An important step here would be for reporters and editors to focus on firings and promotions in other government agencies, not only Justice.
If the Constitution alone is not enough to restrain the President and Vice President, let us hope the media can. Our founders took it for granted that the press would restrain the ambitions and corruptions of politicians. These last few weeks, the media have been exposing scandals. Our country needs more sunlight, much more. We dare not assume that those to whom we have given too much power are not making haste to use all they can while they can.
The Administration has used the Iraq war as a rationale for stripping citizens’ rights and protections, and there’s no reason to believe they have changed their goals. We should expect to see more tactics that rely on rush in Congress, overwork in the press and indifference in a public that does not fully know or understand what “politics” in Washington means for their own lives.