If you’re hailing as a hero Edward Snowden, the “whistle-blower” who released a number of National Security Agency documents, revealing that the non-stop invasion of privacy enacted during the Bush administration has continued unabated during the Obama administration, then you simply can’t be a fan of Bradley Manning.
Here’s why: it’s the difference between leaking and hacking.
Based on his job with a contractor to the NSA, Snowden became privy to a surveillance program he believes violates the Constitutional rights of Americans. It’s a gross invasion of our privacy, with little in the way of oversight to make sure that such monitoring, done in the name of security, is not also used as a means of political persecution.
He selected a number of documents and chose to right a specific wrong. He, like Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, like former Associate FBI director Mark “Deep Throat” Felt, engaged in leaking. (There’s a fallacy insofar as he “whistle-blew” something that was both legal and already within the public domain. Nonetheless, his theft of the paperwork is being deemed newsworthy for its scale and timeliness.)
Private Bradley Manning stole hundreds of thousands of State Department cables discovered accidentally. They did not fall within the purview of his routine duties, and he could never claim to have a functional knowledge of all of their contents, the way Snowden did.
He accessed a system way above his pay-grade, and used deception to remove the information from the computer network. This is hacking. (It doesn’t matter if hacking information was easy, and in his case, it was. If you steal a car because the keys were left in it, it’s still a crime.)
Manning had no specific knowledge of crimes contained in these files.
Or let’s say Manning did find crimes. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, the first 100 pages of cables were riddled with what he thought was crime. There is still no way he read 250 thousand of them and determined that they all supported criminal activity on the part of the State Department.
No — Manning made his decision to steal the information based on the hacking world’s vague rationale, “If it’s secret, it must be bad.” And “information wants to be free.”
And perhaps the rationale is — if he did see crime in what he read — he could take a reasonable guess that there’s even more crime going on.
Manning allegedly turned that information over to Wikileaks, which document dumped the private State Department cables for everyone, including al Qaeda and nuke-aspiring thugs to see, online.
The cables revealed a great deal of diplomatic gossip, and some counter-intuitive private alliances (such as Pakistan approving more drone strikes, and Yemen agreeing to cover them up.) But even the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Guardian and all the news outlets who covered the leak reported that the cables revealed the basic competence of the U.S. diplomatic corps. (In fact, there was little in the way of revelation about Iraq and Afghanistan from the cables that those newspapers’ correspondents had not already spent years reporting on.)
Even Wikileaks founder Julian Assange admits that strongest reportage of alleged crimes and cover-ups contained deep within in the U.S. State Department cables came very, very much after the fact. In some cases, after years of journalism.
But — to hear their supporters tell it — Wikileaks and Bradley Manning are heroes! Because the ends justify the means. Assange’s argument is they Manning didn’t need to know about specific crimes being committed in advance to justify stealing all the cables: what we found out later makes it all worth while.
If you buy that argument, you should work for the NSA.
Their rationale? It doesn’t matter that if the NSA doesn’t have any knowledge ahead of time about specific terror plots by US citizens or the people they talk to, and it doesn’t matter they are monitoring everybody’s electronic communications with foreigners. They can take a reasonable guess that there’s crime going on.
If they stop just one terrorist attack because of it, their thinking goes, then it was all worth while. They are, after all, trying to save lives.
The ends justify the means.
And hey — information wants to be free.
So, if the NSA scandal has you upset, applaud Snowden all you want. That’s leaking. Or, applaud Manning all you want. That’s hacking — and essentially the same as what the NSA did. So you’ve got to pick one.
Note to readers: my own observations regarding those who support both Manning and Snowden suggest that the argument is “the U.S. is an evil empire and no matter what anyone does to take it down a peg is justified.” I don’t buy it, not just because the means deployed are hypocritical, but because simply being destructive or indulging in trendy notions about “anarchy” are not an answer for how we move forward in a functioning society.
Fans of privacy issues, please post in the comments section what the new definition of privacy — for both individuals, and the affairs of government and diplomacy — should be. I am genuinely interested to hear. I am against the prosecution of journalists who deal with leakers.
I’m also keen to hear a comprehensive definition of “hacktivism,” which (while I sympathize with some of the issues taken on by groups like “Anonymous”) strikes me as opportunistic and wholly without accountability.
This story was also published on The Huffington Post, with numerous comments from readers. Below, I post my response to comments suggesting individuals have a right to privacy, but the government does not.
The question of privacy vs. secrecy is precisely the issue.
All agencies of government are required to be transparent. They are accountable to us, the voters.
However, that does not mean that they have no right to privacy, such as the State Department, when conducting the affairs of state.
Who wants to see North Korea nuke Japan? This is a valid concern to the Japanese. For that reason, the US, China, NK, SK, Japan and Russia have been engaged in the “Six Party talks” designed to get Pyongyang to drop the nuclear aggression. (Those talks are currently on hold.)
What value is there in Bradley Manning revealing the back-room conversations between, for example, the US and China – and allowing Kim Jong Un to know their negotiating strategies ahead of time?
Let’s say there’s an Iranian dissident, who wants to leave the country with information regarding Tehran’s support for Syrian use of chemical weapons. Why would that person ever come forward, when he knows that some 23 year-old has decided to reveal his name to anyone with an internet connection? (Wikileaks refused to redact the names of all diplomatic contacts. )
No, no – nevermind! Bradley Manning knows better. About everything!
So yes – transparency is an essential part of democracy. As every individual is entitled to privacy, so too, are agencies of government – to a degree. To suggest otherwise is to be naïve about how the real world operates.
You might not be familiar with me, but I’m a rock. Well — I don’t like to brag, but I’m a boulder, really. Once, I was the tip of a mountain, but mostly I’ve been paved over. And — I didn’t ask for things to be this way — but, as rocks go, I’m a pretty damn significant one. I am the rock upon which the foundations of three major religions rest.
I usually try to avoid the conversation, because it gets awkward, fast. But what better time than Holy Week to bring this up?
I live in Jerusalem — which I know you’ve heard of. It’s the ancient city in Israel and/or Palestine - depending on your point of view. It’s holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims. All three have fought over Jerusalem over the centuries. In the modern era, it’s mostly been a conflict between Jews and Muslims.
This is where I come in.
You’ve probably heard about this one — Christians and Jews talk about it all the time. It was in the Old Testament and the Torah that Abraham was married to Sarah, who couldn’t conceive. That’s what we’d say now, but of course, in the Bible they prefer the term “barren.” In any case, God came along — and suddenly, Sarah was pregnant!
At long last, they had a son, named Isaac. Then to test him, God decided that Abraham would have to kill him. (God’s like that sometimes.) Abraham took Isaac outside of town — well, that was back when I was still a mountain, — and was about to kill him, when an angel said, Nevermind! God was just testing! There happened to be ram nearby, caught in some thorns, and the angel said it was OK to kill the ram instead.
Yeah, so — that mountain? That was me.
Even before that, God decided to give Moses the stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments. You know, the Thou shalt not’s that still stir up so much controversy. Moses — what a star! To be chosen by God like that!
Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert, in search of the Promised Land, carrying the tablets with them in a special golden trunk — the Ark of the Covenant.
Well, we all know — Moses died before making it to the Promised Land. But the Ark made it to a temple, the First Temple, built by King Solomon in Jerusalem. Which was built upon the tip of a mountain.
That tip of a mountain? Actually, it’s a rock now. A boulder, really. That was me.
That temple got knocked down, as did the Second Temple to follow. Raiders of the Lost Ark not withstanding, the Ark of the Covenant has never been found. (I swear to God I don’t know what happened to it! And no, I’ve never met Harrison Ford. I get asked that a lot.)
But to the Jewish people, you’ve got to understand — those temples, and the Third temple prophesied to be built upon the same site? To them, that’s of extraordinary religious significance.
To Christians, for whom the Ten Commandments still make up the backbone of morality? What a star for them, too.
Now let’s talk Islam. One day, the Prophet Mohammed was at home in Mecca when the Arch Angel Gabriel appeared, with a magic winged horse. First, they flew to Jerusalem. From there, Mohammed and the magic flying horse took off to the heavens and met God.
Of course, for that sort of flight, you need to get a good running start. Off the tip of a mountain. Off a conveniently-located boulder.
Can you believe it? It was the same rock! And yeah — that was me.
Mohammed — what a star! To be chosen by God like that! Understandably, Muslims think Jerusalem is of extraordinary religious significance. And so am I.
So yes, I have to say — I’m flattered that so much history is associated with me. Oftentimes, I’m overwhelmed by the faith and love of good people, whose interpretations of the Torah, the Bible and the Quran lead them to do unto others as they would like others to do unto themselves.
But the rest of it.
Thousands of terrorist attacks over the years, by those who believe Islam is being oppressed by the U.S. and other allies of Israel? And the military response to those? That’s all because of me. Thousands of air-strikes and attacks by Israel on Gaza and other Palestinian targets, not even necessarily part of the seven(!) individual wars and myriad mini-conflicts to wrack the region in the modern era?
That too, is all because of me.
Pick up a newspaper. Are you baffled by the talk of potential Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear sites and how they link to question of the U.S. funding Syrian rebels?
Peel away enough layers, and that, too, is because of me.
With no exaggeration, humankind has literally spent centuries fighting over the same rock. I try not to get too bummed out about this, because I know it’s not my fault. But at the same time — I can’t help but feel partly to blame for a never-ending stream of tragedy.
I understand that we’re talking about tribal culture, with ancient scribes whose geographic understanding was limited by how far they could get on foot. And sure — in Jerusalem, I’m a convenient landmark. But did God really have to base elements of the foundation to every tradition of faith in the region on me??
Talk about a lack of imagination on the part of the Creator!
And Christianity doesn’t get away scott-free. The Crusades, anyone? Luckily, I’m not even the faintest bit round — here’s a photo. Otherwise it’d be just my luck to have been rolled in front of Christ’s tomb.
I know. I’m sorry. What’s more tacky than a celebrity complaining about the writers? But honestly, I’mexhausted. If it were up to me, I’d be no more than a molehill. I’d be a patch of sand — there’d be so much less responsibility.
It’s absurd. It’s the height of human folly.
Because in the end, I’m still just a rock.
This piece also appears in The Huffington Post.
This cartoon also running on: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mp-nunan/pope-craigslist-ad_b_2663146.html
Dear Mr. Vice President,
You’ve had a tough week or two, haven’t you? You’re doing the talk show rounds to promote your new book,The Future, about how democracy has been “hacked” by corporate interests. But all the interviewers want to talk about is the degree of hypocrisy with which you — a Nobel Laureate lauded for your efforts to end climate change — sold out to Big Oil, when you sold Current TV to Aljazeera, owned by the Emir of Qatar, an oil-producing state.
A cynic might say that degree of hypocrisy is best expressed by the figure $100 million, the amount you’re individually estimated to make from the deal.
Asked by the Matt Lauers, David Lettermans and Jon Stewarts of this world, if — in Stewart’s words — “Activist Al Gore” can coexist with “Mogul Al Gore,” you’ve defended the sale by pointing out that Aljazeera’s news coverage of climate change has exceeded that of any other news organization in the world, including the U.S. networks which didn’t even manage a single climate change question in the myriad debates of the last campaign.
But, if I may make a suggestion, Mr. Vice President? You need to come out swinging.
Not only did the U.S. networks abdicate on the coverage of climate change, they have abdicated, to an enormous extent, coverage of international news — exactly what Aljazeera wants to bring to the U.S. through the Current TV purchase.
Aljazeera English has 21 news bureaus around the world, producing television news packages for a 24 hour news channel. They are rivaled only by BBC and CNN (the latter of which, as I’ve argued in the past,has abdicated doing journalism in favor of merely doing live television.)
NBC, CBS and ABC seem to limit much of their broadcast time largely to the reportage of “Chief Foreign Correspondent” Richard Engel, or “Chief Foreign Affairs” correspondent Lara Logan, or “Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent” Martha Raddatz.
Engel, Logan and Raddatz are hard-working individuals, to be sure. But the very premise that a single individual (branded as a “personality”) is sufficient to cover every international news event shows how far the networks standards for foreign coverage have fallen. What they turn around is a drop in the ocean compared to the breath and depth of coverage of Aljazeera English or the BBC World Service.
Oh sure, sure — there’s an earthquake in Haiti, for example, and the networks will dispatch a Brian Williams — for a whole three days!
And let’s not forget, Ann Curry, formerly of NBC, used to score coverage of Sudan — mostly when she could arrange to tag along with George Clooney.
You get my point.
Aljazeera — refreshingly — refuses to indulge in the “tyranny of low expectations” that the U.S. news executives live by.
So if I may, Mr. Vice President, why don’t you tell Matt Lauer that you disagree with his network’s belief that that Americans are too stupid to want to know about international news?
And you could mention to Jon Stewart — who makes his living exposing the flaws in cable news — that bringing a credible new outlet for foreign affairs to an American audience represents an enormous step towards fixing the dysfunctional myopia that afflicts the U.S. media? (You know, his “fun house mirror.”)
The fact is the U.S. networks are full of staffers who’d love to work in foreign news bureaus, or who’d love to work for a news organization as dedicated to television journalism as Aljazeera English. Perhaps that’s why the Aljazeera America has received more than 8 thousand applications for 160 jobs (in the interest of full disclosure, including my own.)
One more thing. About that $100 million of hypocrisy.
Qatar is an Arab oil state surrounded by Arab oil states in a region largely known for autocracy, human rights abuses, the subjugation of women and an almost feudal power structure.
AlJazeera is far from perfect, and there is a gulf in the standards between English and Arabic programming. In many ways, it remains an on-going experiment. But it’s the first Middle Eastern nation to launch a 24-hour English news channel, allowing diverse groups to give voice to the concerns of their own communities — something far more progressive and, you can even say, democratic — than the region had been used to.
That’s something to be applauded — and perhaps why Aljazeera has been praised by none other thanHillary Clinton, and why it’s reportedly played at the U.S. State Department. Indeed, many media critics say Aljazeera hits its stride with its coverage of the Arab Spring.
Mr. Vice President, you’re welcome to remind people of all that, too.
This piece is also running in “The Huffington Post.”
They’ve become familiar refrains for those of us who have worked in failed states, those home to a downward spiral of violence and lawlessness - often fueled by Islamic extremism. The word of the scripture is inviolable. We reject the authority of the central government. The entire world is against us in a giant anti-Muslim conspiracy.
I am a former foreign correspondent. I was based overseas for 17 years, covering politics – and extremist groups — in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and other spots.
Lately, however, I’ve noticed some eerie echoes of those extremist refrains much closer to home: in the statements by the National Rifle Association and gun-owning extremists, in the wake of the massacre of 26 children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.
Within the NRA, there appear to be some who the Second Amendment as a quasi-divine right that is the only thing that stands between them and the destruction of an entire way of life.
Before we go on, two important caveats. First, unlike extremist groups, the NRA does not pro-actively carry out acts of violence or terrorism. There is no mandate to do so, and indeed, the NRA condemns such acts of violence, be it in Newtown, Virginia Tech, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. (The NRA’s condemnations of shooting incidents are sometimes convoluted, and are often paired with a defense of the Second Amendment. But random acts of violence are, in fact, condemned.)
Secondly, the NRA leadership may not represent the voices of many of its members – sportsmen and women and hunters, who would no sooner harm another human being than they’d feel compelled to use an AR-15 to shoot a deer.
But there are undeniable similarities between the NRA and Islamic extremist groups, in both the pursuit of policy and in rhetoric. These merit closer examination:
Those who blaspheme the Second Amendment shall be deported or executed
CNN’s Piers Morgan dared to suggest that the Second Amendment be repealed. The reaction was virulent: a petition was sent to the White House calling for Morgan, a Brit, to be deported. At least one death threat was also made to “Vanity Fair” writer Kurt Eichenwald, via Twitter, for suggesting much the same.
The absolute and fundamental rejection of any other ideology.
In reaction to Newtown, the NRA adopted a zero compromise approach to gun-control, in any form. Not onenew regulation should come of the slaughter of 20 children, they say. It is, in fact is pushing for a further national “conversion” to their gun-owning ideology by promoting armed guards in schools. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” says NRA president Wayne LaPierre.
An overwhelming reaction to any perceived threat to the “ideal” – the caliphate – even if the caliphate never existed. In this case, a gun-owning caliphate.
As explained beautifully in Vanity Fair, the NRA impeded the passage of the N.I.C.S. Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 - legislation by Congress to block the sale of guns to the mentally ill, proposed after the Virginia Tech shooting.
Put simply, the NRA refused to allow the legal precedent to be set that would prevent any American citizen, no matter how deranged, from having access to firearms. Access to guns is the only right that matters, and the US cannot withstand any dilution of the Second Amendment.
That’s because in the ideal world of the caliphate, in which the rule of the Koran, err, excuse me – the Second Amendment - is law, its word shall be inviolable.
The refusal to recognize the authority of the central government.
If you’ve worked in foreign affairs, the phrase, “refusal to recognize the authority of the central government” is shorthand most often associated with warlords in Afghanistan, Sunni insurgents in Iraq, or any number of breakaway militant organizations the world over.
And yet, in reaction to President Obama’s announcement of a list of “executive actions” on gun control to go before Congress, state lawmakers in Wyoming, Mississippi and Texas vowed to block federal law. Some even threatened to arrest and imprison federal law officers trying to carry out gun control regulations.
(The reaction on the NRA channel, Fox News, predictably, went further. It distorted the fact that those executive actions must go before Congress, instead branding President Obama as a self-appointed “king.”)
Basing one’s identity on a sense of victimization in a perpetual existential struggle.
Long before the Newtown shooting marked a slight shift in rhetoric, the NRA frequently cited President Obama’s total lack of action on gun-control as a devious plot to come after guns in his second term. Watch Wayne LaPierre in September 2011 stating as much at a CPAC Conference here. (If you find the LaPierre speech ripe for parody, you’re not alone: Stephen Colbert thought so, too.)
The convoluted logic fuels the notion that the NRA are underdogs in profound existential struggle, in their case, against the evils of government. It’s a fight fueled by patriotism. It’s a fight to defend our way of life. You can defend “America” against “tyranny.”
Don’t look now, but that sounds just like the global anti-Muslim conspiracy! How do extremist groups attract new members? With the same push-button emotional appeal: Join us, and you can belong to something bigger than yourself. It’s a fight fueled by faith. It’s a fight to defend our way of life. You can defend “Islam” against “the West.”
The Glorification of Martyrdom. Sort Of.
Again, the NRA does not support gun violence or carry it out. They do, however, talk about “fighting to the death” with some frequency. “I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands,” was popularized NRA president Charlton Heston in 2009.
He was merely echoing a sentiment pushed by NRA bumper-stickers that had been in circulation for years at the time.
In some ways, the United States appears to be at a critical juncture: do we move past the absolutism of our creation myth, which allows us to overthrow the government whenever the mood strikes us? And, as Second Amendment fundamentalists believe, every citizen must always have access to the most lethal ability to carry an insurrection out?
Or do we evolve into a future in which we have achieved a rule of law, resting upon a bedrock of civil rights, that allows us challenge, through non-violent means, any infringement upon those rights?
As the debate moves ahead, we owe it to ourselves to remember: extremist political philosophies and tactics don’t exclusively belong to impoverished groups overseas.
Do you feel as if you’ve spent the last 18 months, slowly succumbing to that tickle in your throat, the dull ache behind your eyes, which you didn’t want to admit you had? It’s just the sniffles, you said - but even then, your voice cracked in a way that made you know the worse was still ahead.
Your mom told you to never to go outside in that kind of weather without a coat, but you thought, It’s only 2011 – what’s it matter if I read a few blogs? This is what being an informed citizen is about! But before long you found yourself checking (and rechecking) Politico’s Twitter feed, you had signed up to play “270 to Win” to craft your own campaign strategy, all the while downing some Rachel Maddow every night just to help you sleep.
Your forehead felt hot – or maybe that was just the palm of your hand. After all, you couldn’t miss the Republican primaries! Mitt! Herman! Michelle! Rick Santorum-istan and T-Paw! “Oops” Perry and Moon Base Gingrich. Watching them was like witnessing the opening a cosmic wormhole that let candidates club women over the head and drag them backwards by the hair through the women’s liberation movement and refight the Civil War - Texans even talked secession - all at the same time.
Twelve debates in six months! That’s more than you see your parents. Good thing you didn’t. They would have sent you to bed.
It didn’t really matter whether you considered the day a win or not. The president comes out in support of gay marriage? The Supreme Court says ObamaCare stands? Dizzy with joy still means you feel dizzy.
You told yourself you felt fine. But really – you weren’t. Sure, you’d sneeze into the crook of your arm, like they teach little kids now; you cover your mouth when you cough. But still - you noticed, your friends would back up a bit when they were talking to you. Someone even offered you a seat on the subway once.
It was full on, now – but you still didn’t want to call in sick.
Til the conventions finally did you in.
Clint Eastwood and the chair? Lyin’ Paul Ryan being called out even by Fox News? The “Comeback Kid” came back! But you were bummed that the Democrats didn’t fix the balloon drop. Everyone likes balloons.
One presidential debate in, and you’re one with your sofa. With a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, achey I-wish-someone-would-come-home-just-to-pass-me-the-remote-because-I-dropped-it kind of lurgy.
You’re coughing so hard you think you might break a rib.
You’ve finally admitted you’re sick. The whole thing is sick – a gross distortion of once cherished democratic principles warped beyond the standard trifecta of greed, money, and power by ideological extremism, arcane electoral law, and a polarized media vacuum, lying atop newand highly-combustible tranches of money serving as catalyst to a toxic chemical reaction with integrity, truth, and fact so badly disfigured it’s unlikely they’ll ever be recognizable again.
On both sides.
Shit. It was the haze. The haze is what made you sick.
Maybe it would be easier if you just slept here. The cold tile on the bathroom floor actually feels kind of good. Besides, it doesn’t feel safe enough to go back to the bedroom. There’s the vice presidential debate and two more presidential debates.
It looked like EtchasketchSandraflukeOsamaTaxes the last time you threw up. It tastes like Youdidn’tbuildthat if you belch.
Pain and nausea really do make time slow down.
My god, you never knew the birds started chirping this early.
Three weeks out. You allow yourself a flicker of hope that maybe the worst is over. The haze will start to clear. It’ll work its way out of your system, like Big Bird memes fading from Facebook. If you just drag your sorry ass through the next little while, you’ll start to feel better.
We’ll all start to feel better.
After all, we can’t even be stupid enough to do this to ourselves again. Right?
This piece appeared in The Huffington Post, here.
From the BBC: The foundation of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan has expressed outrage after a vial said to have held a sample of his blood was put on sale in an online auction.
U.K.-based PFC Auctions says the blood was taken from Reagan after the failed 1981 assassination attempt against him.
The PFC website put the latest bid for the vial at £6,270 ($9,910) on Tuesday….
Mitt Romney campaign headquarters. The candidate is in a meeting with a number of his aides, including advisers Eric Fehrnstrom and strategist Ed Gillespie. He’s displaying an intensely angry side of himself the public’s never seen.
“Goddammit, Eric, how’d it get out that there’s a vial of Reagan blood out there?” Romney storms. “I’ll fire the bastard who leaked it — and we all know I’m good at firing people!”
“Governor — “
“An auction? Can you imagine how dangerous this would be if it fell into Gingrich’s hands ahead of the convention? Bachmann’s?” Romney yells. “That blood can seal the presidency!”
“We’ve confirmed the blood is still in the U.K.,” Gillespie says. “Gingrich’s people are no closer to getting it than we are.”
Romney is fuming.
“With the Blood of Reagan, I could warn against the perils of Big Government spending, while raising the debt ceiling 18 times,” he says. “I could reform Social Security and Medicare without decimating them.”
Romney looks up. “I could be the national father figure everyone craves — not a guy from a Land’s End catalog.”
“Yes, Governor, we’re aware.”
“So why can’t I just give them a million dollars for it? For god’s sake, how many Super PACs do I have?”
“If word got out that you offered a million dollars for the Blood of Reagan, when the highest offer is under $10 thousand,” Fehrnstrom says, “you’d look as out of touch with the middle class as when you bet Rick Perry during the middle of a debate.”
“Is that so, Etch-a-Sketch?” Romney sneers. “I want that blood.”
“But what if there’s a trend? I’m not sure we want to risk having the Tea Party trying to dig up the Founding Fathers,” Gillespie says. “I mean — literally.”
“The Blood of Reagan means a landslide victory,” Romney says, sounding envious. “And invasions that only last a weekend!”
“But there’s something else,” Fehrnstrom says. He shifts uncomfortably. “It could turn you into a Democrat.”
“Well, Obama in many ways is just a 90’s era Republican — especially on defense. And he killed bin Laden. So you’ve got to play to the right of that,” Gillespie says. “Having you on both sides of every issue just hasn’t been working.”
Fehrnstrom nods. “With Santorum’s anti-women crusade, Tea Party fundamentalism and Boehner’s campaign of contrarianism, America’s been pulled so far to the right, that the Blood of Reagan would shift you left on the political spectrum — once and for all!”
“Is that really so bad, for the former governor of Massachusetts?” Romney looks momentarily thoughtful. “I mean, I hate having to disavow Romneycare.”
Fehrnstrom looks alarmed. “Think about it! The Blood of Reagan turns the Republican presidential candidate into a Democrat? You can’t do it! The party would finally collapse in on itself! The Republican narrative can’t take any more blows!”
The room goes quiet.
“What would it look like,” Romney asks softly, “if I turned Democrat?”
“It wouldn’t look too different,” the Gillespie says. “First, you’d hear yourself apologizing for attacking that gay kid, and supporting gay marriage.”
Romney thinks for a moment. “But if Gingrich gets the blood? Before Tampa?”
“We spin it as a transparent attempt to manipulate the memory of a pillar of the Republican party, when being Republican meant bringing down Communism without firing a shot, it meant uniting the country during times of national tragedy, not dividing it, and it meant putting the public interest over political sabotage.”
“Besides, it could turn Gingrich into a Democrat, too,” says Gillespie, “just when he needs to get back on the lecture and punditry circuit. He hasn’t got the nerve.”
“What if we get the blood, but hold off on using it unless we really need to?” Romney asks. “Just so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.”
“We can do that,” he says. “We’ll send someone to the U.K. today. We don’t want the Obama people making a move.”
Romney speaks quietly, but with conviction. “I could really use that blood.”
Also running on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mp-nunan/mitt-romney-and-the-blood_b_1537184.html