Something has changed. At the end of the week before last there was what Atrios called a humming, an ultrasonic, ultrasensory buzz that some tipping point was imminent. Me, I thought it had to do with Dick Cheney and pictures of his Godzillahead slumping onto his pacemakered heart appearing in previously criticism-free newsprint. And then... nothing.
It's facile to blame outrage fatigue. I've little doubt that after one after another case of administration ineptitude and catastrophic incompetence and deliberate deception and attack on the Constitution, what's another? As a designed strategy, it'd be brilliant: they'd weary us in our own stews of outrage, they'd paint us as lunatics rabidly foaming at every moving shadow. I refuse to believe this administration could do incompetency competently on purpose, but they certainly have the response to their critics' outrage down pat.
Look at today's papers: the NYT asks - or implies - the crucially important questions: Bill and Hillary: are they having sex? What's the real state of their marriage? Who's that woman Bill was seen eating dinner with? Meanwhile, the Post reports that the FBI, in a very unusual if not unprecedented fashion, raided Democratic congressman (who needs to fucking quit NOW, btw) William Jefferson's office. What's the connection?
I suspect the reappearance of Bill Clinton's dick is as much about an established media's pushback against us spittingly rabid Lefties: who the hell are we to drive the news cycles, we 36 year old jerkoffs sitting in our pajamas in our parents' basements. Who are we to determine what's important, who are we to declare an impending tipping point? They print, we read, get it?
The search warrant on a sitting congressman's office: this is scary. (Again, Jefferson's crime should be punished and he should quit, now.) This quite possibly violated the Constitution. It certainly signaled that the White House is NOT going to accept ANY legislative oversight into ANYTHING the White House has done, is doing, is planning to do. This is not a counter-attack: this Congress has abdicated all of its oversight responsibilities. This is preemptive. This is not about Jefferson per se: this is a warning to ALL congressmen and congresswomen.
Here's what's toggled. The media will be damned if they're going to let White House corruption drive the news just because some feverswampers think it should. Why, Al Gore may or may not have driven the five blocks from his hotel in Cannes to the theater showing his global warning movie, and the unsubstantiated chance that such hypocrisy might be but almost certainly isn't true is too vital to America's future to go unreported. The Left, for months - MONTHS - has almost successfully challenged the memes and themes so precious to the media. That's got to stop.
And here's what's toggled: you think this White House has been playing hardball all along? You haven't seen anything. You wonder whose phones are being tapped, whose civil liberties are being violated, what unlawful warrants are being prepared, what standards of presumption are being lowered to meet legal search and seizure "requirements"? You have been warned.
And then you're the NYT. Alberto Gonzalez testifies that leakers might be prosecuted as spies (especially those two NYT's reporters who leaked about domestic spying). What do you do? Yes, that's right: Bill Clinton's penis! That's news!
Mission accomplished. For the first time in ages. At last, temporarily, maybe. And that's what's toggled.