Matthew Yglesias writes up something I noticed this morning:
[T]here's something a bit odd about this David Brooks column, which seems to concede that the President's wiretap scheme was illegal, but then slides glossily past the point to discuss other issues. Now, obviously, a columnist has a right to focus on whatever he wants to focus on, but this is sort of a big deal. Note that the lawbreaking is ongoing. It's not as if Bush was caught, apologized, changed things up, and wants the country to move on. He denies that he's done anything wrong and insists he's going to keep on doing it.
The key phrase from the article is that the path Bush has chosen is "legally dubious."
Just for the sake of contrast, here's what Brooks and William Kristol wrote in 2000 about the Bush/Gore presidential race:
There are many ways to elevate the race, but three obvious themes suggest themselves: the rule of law, America's mission in the world, and the renewal of American citizenship.
Begin with the rule of law. The Bush campaign hasn't been sure how or whether to raise the issue of the Clinton-Gore scandals. The low point so far was the sarcastic Bush commercial about whether Al Gore had invented the Internet...
But the issue isn't whether Al Gore exaggerates. It's whether the executive branch is going to uphold the law or subvert it. It is an eight-year pattern of abuse of power -- starting with the prosecution of the head of the White House travel office (acquitted by a jury in less than two hours), through the coverup and subversion of the White-water investigation, the serial bungling of Janet Reno's Justice Department, the 1996 fund-raising scandals, and Bill Clinton's perjury in the Lewinsky matter. This is an administration that has corroded the legal framework of American society and corrupted the legal process for its own petty and political advantage.
Instead of dancing around this topic with generalized comments about restoring integrity to the White House, instead of making a few pointed remarks to a gaggle of reporters on the tarmac, Bush could deliver a serious speech explaining how the Clinton-Gore administration has undermined the rule of law. He could remind voters why the rule of law is sacred; he could argue that to elect Gore is to turn a blind eye to the depredations of the administration in which the vice president has played so prominent a part; and he could point out that, under a Gore administration, there is every reason to believe the pattern of the past eight years would continue.
I guess Brooks was for the rule of law before he was against it.