There's arguing and then there's lying. As Glenn Greenwald notes today, Scott McClellan has just crossed that line.
Asked about Russ Feingold's plan to introduce a resolution censuring George W. Bush for instituting a warrantless spying program and then misleading the country about its existence, the White House press secretary said: "I think it does raise the question, 'How do you fight and win the war on terrorism?' And if Democrats want to argue that we shouldn't be listening to al-Qaida communications, it's their right and we welcome the debate. We are a nation at war."
We didn't catch McClellan's press briefing today, but we sure hope some enterprising reporter asked him to name one Democrat -- just one -- who is arguing that the government "shouldn't be listening to al-Qaida communications." We haven't heard any Democrat make that argument, and indeed Feingold himself has said exactly the opposite. In a statement issued by his office Sunday, the Wisconsin Democrat said: "This issue is not about whether the government should be wiretapping terrorists -- of course it should, and it can under current law."
The issue, as Feingold frames it, is whether the president should be free to break the law and lie to the people who elected him. If Republicans like McClellan want to make that argument, it's their right, and the Democrats ought to welcome the debate. We are a nation at war, but it's a war premised -- at least now and then -- on the notion that democracy is better than dictatorship.