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Swift-Boating the Gray Lady

06.29.2006 05:16 | DISPATCHES

In his piece, "When The FBI Raids The Times" (reproduced on, New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Dennis Persica conjures up a worst-case scenario. Imagine if the U.S. Attorney's office in New York, backed up by the feds, entered the offices of The New York Times and ransacked its files and computers "either to find the source of the leaks for the banking story or to make sure the Times isn't about to publish another story allegedly damaging to national security?"

No matter what you think of the Gray Lady, the spectacle of her being stormed and boarded would be a dark day for whatever freedom the US press still enjoys. But, as Persica points out, there's an outcome the authoritarian right seems to overlook that's plain as the nose on its face:

"Those who would grant the Bush administration extraordinary powers today must [picture] the same authority in the hands of a President Clinton (Bill or Hillary), a President Kerry or a President Gore. . . . Are you comfortable with the government having that power no matter who is at the helm?"

In truth it's Persica who's missing the point. Does he honestly believe Cheney is accruing power to the executive branch out of blind obedience to a principle? (The "unitary executive" or whatever.) To the contrary, Cheney's only allegiance is to this year's model of the executive branch, with him in the driver seat.

Outfitted with his state-of-the-art, eternal clock of a pacemaker, Cheney seeks to build the Bush administration into a fortress that no opposing force can ever breach. Thus concerns about another party inheriting its power become moot.

Meanwhile, the hard right portrays the Gray Lady as if she were armed to the gills. Swift-boating her then becomes a glorious victory, further enhancing the administration's omnipotence in its own mind.



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