Anyone notice how right-wing behavior toward President Obama so far is mimicking, structurally speaking, their behavior toward President Clinton in the 1990s: encourage anti-government hysteria, freak out about incipient totalitarianism, accuse him of destroying the country and making it weaker, and then constantly attack his appointees and demand their firing? What's next, an investigation of his investments?
Does it surprise anyone, then, that the first object of Republicans' ire -- the first Cabinet appointment whose resignation they're demanding -- would be a woman named Janet?
Greta Van Susteren and Byron York last night on Fox were fairly representative (check out the Limbaugh rant at the beginning), though the fire-Napolitano talk has been bubbling up everywhere. As Amanda Terkel notes this morning, John McCain even went so far as to falsely claim that the person responsible for the report had been fired.
Still, as York says, the cold reality is that Napolitano is on perfectly solid ground and there is no likelihood, imminent or otherwise, that she'll be forced out. But the reason for that is that not only was what the report said in fact perfectly accurate, she only bears glancing responsibility for it: It had, after all, been commissioned by the Bush administration and authored by Bush administration hirees.
The other "scandal" has to do with a minor quip indicating a certain lack of clarity about the facts regarding America's borders -- Napolitano appeared to suggest the 9/11 terrorists came to the U.S. through Canada. Here's what she actually said:
"Yes, Canada is not Mexico, it doesn't have a drug war going on, it didn't have 6,000 homicides that were drug-related last year," she said.
"Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there."
When asked if she was talking about the 9-11 perpetrators, Napolitano replied: "Not just those but others as well."
Napolitano was wrong about the 9/11 hijackers, all of whom came to the U.S. through domestic airports, using fake papers. But she was, in fact, right about the rest.
After all, the only known case of a terrorist caught bringing materiel over the border -- the 1999 Ahmed Ressam incident -- happened in Washington state, on the ferryboat from Canada. A quantitative analysis of terrorist threats to the U.S. found that there was "no terrorist presence in Mexico and no terrorists who entered the U.S. from Mexico"; but there was in fact "a sizeable terrorist presence in Canada and a number of Canadian-based terrorists who have entered the U.S."
Canadians may get upset about one of our top national-security officials pointing out these facts, but they are facts nonetheless.
And people like Byron York and Greta Van Susteren may conveniently dismiss the significance of these facts, just so that Van Susteren can call Napolitano "stupid."
Yeah, Greta, there's a lot of that going around.