While much of America celebrates the holiday season with reverent sobriety, some liberal media stars sound so daft in their Bush hatred you might suspect they've been swimming in spiked Christmas punch.
In a "web-exclusive commentary," Newsweek's ever-predictable Jonathan Alter went ape over the stories about the National Security Agency (NSA) monitoring phone calls between terror suspects in America and their terrorist contacts abroad. "We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War." Alter suggested leaking the NSA story to the New York Times was not shameful, as Bush suggested, but patriotic: "it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab."
Conservatives saw something else: If leaking the name of a CIA agent named Valerie Plame was an indictable offense, and Judy Miller could be imprisoned for not naming her sources, wasn't it time to investigate the leaker "patriots" on this story and incarcerate the Times reporters if their names weren't provided?
The media irony is rich. If a Bushie leaks intelligence information, he should be strung from the nearest branch -- unless that Bushie (or a non-Bushie) is leaking with the intention to harm the president, in which case it's the work of a "patriot."
Unsurprisingly for a Democratic hack, Newsweek's Alter predicted the worst for Bush: "If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment produced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974." This spurred other networks like CBS and CNN to start asking impeachment questions.
The "dictator" language was not contained to Alter. ABC's new anchorman Bob Woodruff began his newscast with loaded Orwell phrases: "Big Brother. The uproar over a secret presidential order giving the government unprecedented powers to spy on Americans." Woodruff also claimed the Times had "learned of a profound shift in policy that affects the civil liberties of Americans."