The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, November 07, 2003

Democrat SIC memo: GOP Senator plays us for idiots

I mentioned in my piece yesterday that the GOP Congressional Amateur Dramatic Society were chewing the scenery like good'uns over the Senate Intelligence Committee staffer's memo outlining strategy options for the minority: East Lynne and Maria Marten simply aren't in it - they have the poor guy (girl?) figured as a devious and twisted Uriah Heep and the - to date, on the issue, apparently ineffectual - Senator John D Rockefeller IV as the moustache-twirling villain.

It's as if the Republican Senate seats are occupied by so many Jefferson Smiths! Politicians playing politics? That must be against the rules, surely?

Sen Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a former member of the SIC, has distinguished himself with a statement that I'd be inclined to think was another effort from the unnamed Dem staffer were it not to have issued from the good Senator's own website:
This strategy memo lays bare what we've started to see for some time: an orchestrated effort by Democrats at a time of war to improperly use an intelligence investigation as a weapon against President Bush.

You simply have to take your hat off to the guy:
at a time of war
indeed! Which war can he be referring to? Not, surely, to the Iraq war, of which the Commander-in-Chief said on May 1 that
Major combat operations...have ended.
beneath the Mission Accomplished banner about which the said C-in-C uttered so egregious a falsehood?

Or does he mean the ongoing and unending War on Terrorism, perhaps? Or the War on Drugs?

Kyl thumps the desk with the allegation that the memo
falsely attributes ugly motives to the President, members of his administration, and fellow members of Congress.

(By now, I'm thinking of him as the Claude Rains character in Mr Smith Goes To Washington, in high, pompous dudgeon ranting against the afore-mentioned Jefferson Smith. In the movie, of course, the Rains character was crooked. Whereas Kyl is just - well, judge for yourselves!)

His best, though, is this:
The Senate should examine whether its rules have been violated by this memo. It is, for example, improper under Senate rules to impugn the motives of fellow Senators.

Now, I read all sorts of terrible things about the state of education in the United States, some of which might even be true. But Kyl here is treating his constituents and the rest of us as plain morons.

The reference is as misleading as it is fatuous: Rule XIX ยง2 of the Standing Rules of the Senate (to which the Rains character also alludes at one point) says
No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.

The emphasis is mine, of course; the fact that the words appear in a rule entitled Debate is something of a giveaway. It's as clear as day that it does not mean what Kyl implies that it does mean. And I can find nothing else in the Rules that might justify Kyl's suggestion.

Promoters of companies have been sent to jail for less misleading statements than Kyl's.

But, then, clearly Kyl is engaged on the same activity as the Dem staffer and pretty much everyone else on the Hill: politics. Phineas T Barnum - the patron saint of American politics - is no doubt right in there being a sucker born every minute; and Kyl is perfectly at liberty to exploit the fact.

Only, a sucker gets more easily suckered if he's not tipped off he's being suckered. Just trying to be helpful, as ever...

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