What it comes down to

Some reader of Talking Points writes about not letting the lawyers do all the work of the Abramoff investigation:

It would be wise of those of us who are offended by the realities of [Abramoff] to resist the temptation to view [it] as a fundamentally legal matter. Rather we should debate it within the arena of political and social ethics. If we cannot win the contest on the basis of these ethical principles then no legal system can save us from ourselves.
Emphasis added for emphasis. I also feel this way about the NSA-spying-on-Americans thing: if nobody gives a shit, if people become more outraged by some random quote by Simon Cowell, then it's all over, and those of us who believed the line about "a republic, if you can keep it" were, in a real way, too smart for our own good.

(There's also the point about whether you can even have a republic, in the sense that Franklin or Lincoln or even the Roosevelts understood it, under our modern military-industrial-infotainment conditions. But that issue I leave to the unreadable political thinkers.)

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