A genuine political sea change?

The true radicalism and deceit of the Bush administration are now being revealed, and that has the potential to fundamentally change American political opinion.

Published April 28, 2007 12:49PM (EDT)

There were two seemingly unrelated incidents this week which, taken together, reflect some extremely important political developments.

First was the amazing letter to The Washington Post jointly sent by all 50 Democratic Senators in the Democratic caucus other than Harry Reid -- written in response to, and in emphatic rejection of, David Broder's self-caricaturizing attack on Reid this week, where Broder condemned Reid's criticisms of the Leader and the War and equated him with Alberto Gonzales. The letter was signed by all 50 Democrat-caucusing Senators -- each and every last one of them -- who stood behind Reid and, in effect, told David Broder that he and his previously revered High Broderism are completely out of touch and irrelevant.

When is the last time Democrats were so unified in their defiance of Wise Beltway Wisdom, which endlessly warns them not to adhere to their beliefs too steadfastly or to defy Republican decrees, especially on foreign policy?

The national media -- the World Ruled by Drudge, led around by and working in conjunction with the rest of the right-wing noise machine -- have tried mightily for months to depict Nancy Pelosi as weak and her leadership in chaos, and they try to do roughly the same with Harry Reid. Yet that has all been brushed aside, as the Democratic caucus in both the Senate and the House have been shockingly unified, not just once but continuously, in their defiance of both the Leader's will and the worthless Hiatt/Broder/Fox News "warnings" about "going too far" in opposing the war and the Leader.

The elected officials comprising the Democratic caucus are very politically diverse, characterized by widely disparate ideologies, varying amounts of political courage, and completely different calculations of self-interest. Yet virtually without exception, they have remained unified in their opposition to the war and the President even in the face of the Washington Establishment's painfully trite warnings that they must capitulate for their own good. That, standing alone, is a fundamental change, a sign that something has shifted profoundly.

One can view their efforts as insufficiently aggressive in stopping the war if one wants, but that is a different issue. Thus far, they have been shockingly smart (and resolute) about ignoring out-of-touch and corrupt Beltway pundit wisdom, and instead are paying far more attention to the prevailing anger among Americans towards the war, the President and his supporters.

And then there are the not-yet-fully-appreciated revelations in George Tenet's new (and unconscionably and unforgivably belated) book, one highly illustrative example of which was recounted today by Scott Shane in The New York Times:

In January 2002, George J. Tenet, the man who oversaw all American spy agencies, was asked by a visiting Italian intelligence official what he knew about United States officials making contact with exiled Iranian opposition figures.

"I shot a look at other members of my staff in the meeting," Mr. Tenet writes in his newly published memoir. "It was clear that none of us knew what he was talking about. The Italian quickly changed the subject."

The embarrassed Mr. Tenet, then director of central intelligence, had stumbled upon a quixotic effort by a few Pentagon officials working closely with a conservative Middle East specialist, Michael A. Ledeen, to meet with Iranian dissidents living abroad. It was neither the first nor the last time he would be surprised by intelligence efforts inside the Bush administration but outside official channels. . . .

Meanwhile, Mr. Tenet had learned about the contacts with Iranian exiles, organized by Mr. Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute and involving two Defense Department officials. They seemed to be in touch with, among others, Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian exile who had been a middleman in the Iran-contra affair in the 1980s and who the C.I.A. believed was completely unreliable.

"What we were hearing sounded like an off-the-books covert-action program trying to destabilize the Iranian government," Mr. Tenet writes, calling such a program "Son of Iran-contra."

It was prohibited for awhile to describe the work of the deceitful little neoconservative cabal in Washington which was at the center of the administration's efforts to knowingly churn out pure falsehoods in order to justify the invasion of Iraq -- an invasion which (Tenet is but the latest figure to reveal) was desired and planned by Dick Cheney and friends long before the 9/11 attacks.

But the truth can only be concealed for so long, and sooner or later, it is going to be absolutely clear just how corrupt and radical the dominant political force governing the Bush administration really has been. In the world of crazed neoconservative radicals, Michael Ledeen is the Gold Standard for pure reality-detachment and a belief in deceiving the American public in order to manipulate their support for the neoconservative agenda, and yet there he was -- Michael Ledeen -- at the center of the cabal which was shaping foreign policy and the Iraq war, operating in secret even from our CIA Director.

Taken together, these two seemingly unconnected incidents reveal: (a) just how radical, extremist and dishonest are the people who have been running this country for the last six years, the whole Bush-led neoconservative Republican edifice loyally supported by most of the "conservative" movement, and (b) outside of the hard-core Bush followers and the stuck-in-2002 Beltway media establishment, there is a rapidly growing recognition of (a) in this country, which is beginning to engender a very potent sea change in political opinion and political power.

And most critically of all, the joint forces of the Beltway media and the right-wing machine have been almost completely impotent in trying to stem the tide. No matter what they do, public anger with the president, his party and the war just continues to grow.

I wasn't planning on posting today, and fortunately, I don't really need to beyond these few paragraphs, because this comment last night from DCLaw1, in response to yesterday's post, perfectly describes what I think is the critical point:

Stewart on Moyers' Journal

I'm watching Moyers' Journal, and Jon Stewart is the guest, with Josh Marshall from TPM to follow. It's caused me to reflect on the fairly recent past, and I am getting an almost cellular sense that something very profound is beginning to bud.

I have to say that a remarkably intimate, yet expansive, community of thought seems to be forming across television, film, and the Internet. There's a rather quiet, yet intense, movement of thought and expression building. It focuses not so much on any particular ideology ("right" or "left"), but on a common, critical-mass thirst to dispel the deception, irrationality, and utter hubris that has been corroding our proud country for what seems like an eternity.

An undeniable intellectual and social confluence is rapidly gaining momentum and solidarity. This solidarity is amazingly organic, not hierarchical -- its only guide is the sixth sense of skepticism, outrage, and, yes, reason. It transcends party. It is oceanic, atmospheric. An intellectual, moral, societal, and psychological gestalt as ancient as humanity itself, kept underfoot by a long winter, but indelibly germinating once again with the thaw.

It is literally everywhere now. The voices of blindness and rage cannot shake me anymore. I haven't felt such hope in a very long time.

There are many issues and potential debates raised by this comment, but the crux of it, in my view, is absolutely right. And there is all kinds of evidence demonstrating it. I recommend reading the discussion prompted by this comment which ensued in the comment section yesterday.

This is the sea change America needs so profoundly, and there are many signs that it is emerging and growing in strength. The 2006 election -- a truly crushing defeat for the President's political movement -- was but a glimpse of it, and the amount of wrongdoing and sleaze that has been revealed in just three months of real Congressional oversight is but a small sampling of what is to come.

Most of what has occurred in this country under the Bush presidency has been effectively concealed -- mostly due to a broken, corrupt media and a malfeasant Congress -- but all of it is beginning to emerge, and the consequences will likely be as extreme as the corruption and deceit itself have been.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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