After a week of enduring the crossfire over the relative benefits and dangers of the deeds of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, I am left wondering whether this has been good or bad for our nation.
The answer depends on the lens we use for viewing America and the world.
I belong to two groups that are not large enough. The first is the portion of America that is very, very serious about fighting terror. I have not forgotten 9/11 or the fact that its hatchers would love to do it again.
Stopping them has been an all-consuming pursuit for our intelligence gatherers and analysts, and their success rate has been positively stunning.
I also belong to the segment of America that has had it up to the eyeballs with the Obama administration, from the bad policies to the dishonesty to the weak foreign policy to the targeting of political enemies. 2016 cannot get here fast enough for me.
Added up, my result is a general willingness to allow wide latitude in surveillance, tempered by concerns over its possible abuse.
I had the very same position as the Patriot Act was being hammered out while smoke still rose from Ground Zero. The deciding factor in my decision to support it was the faith I placed in George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to use that information to catch terrorists without spying on my phone calls and e-mails.
In the wake of the IRS disaster, the Benghazi deceptions and the basketful of other scandals-in-waiting, it is very hard to similarly trust this administration as it holds that intelligence apparatus in its hands.
But I will. For now.
I am able to do so because unlike the IRS, which was easily corruptible with its ranks of employees eager to please a boss who demonized Tea Party groups at every turn, our intelligence services operate in another landscape. They are not so easily tainted.
Unlike Snowden, who decided to recoil at tactics that have kept us safe, the average NSA analyst is proud to be part of the effort that has prevented further 9/11s. They are not a lock-step gung-ho robot army, but few are the ones who awaken to suddenly shudder at procedures laid out and practiced for a dozen years.
But Snowden did, and rather than step with courage into an American courtroom to make his case and dare our system to punish him for his perceived heroism, he hunkers in Hong Kong, happy to let its people and its justice system handle his fate.
He is missing out on a certain love-fest he would receive here from Americans more worried about potential Orwellian nightmares than the real threat of Jihad.