House Republicans have resorted to partisan finger-pointing over 3 percent of the guns crossing the border -- and ignored the other 97 percent.
Leave it to Stephen Colbert and his fearless writers to hone in on the extent of the cynicism and hypocrisy that marks the latest iteration of the "Fast and Furious" story. Before the sun had set on a day that Republicans on the House Oversight Committee had voted Attorney General Eric Holder "in contempt" for failing to produce enough documents about the failed gun-running sting, the gang at Comedy Central was telling it like it is. Here is the link to this instant classic:
Actually, despite silly headlines like this, it's not a complicated story at all. Operation Fast and Furious -- hey, let's give guns to bad guys, what could possibly go wrong? -- was a bad idea, poorly done, and thus not unlike hundreds or thousands of other poorly conceived and executed government plans of recent memory. (Like the Iraq War, for example). The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, deserves no small measure of blame for thinking that such a dangerous, unwieldy sting could be completed, successfully, without a great deal of unintended pain and sorrow.
To the right, the story has been an election-year blessing, a roiling melange of: (1) gun righteousness; (2) antipathy toward Holder, and; (3) fear and loathing of Mexico and Mexicans. When Colbert mocks the vast "conspiracy" the right sees in all of this -- what's the matter, good old-fashioned bureaucratic incompetence isn't good enough anymore? -- it's hilariously funny until you realize that tens of millions of people evidently believe the plot to be true. "If I lie in a lawsuit involving the fate of my neighbor's cow, I can go to jail," Walter Lippmann wrote in 1919:
But if I lie to a million readers in a matter involving war and peace, I can lie my head off, and, if I choose the right series of lies, be entirely irresponsible.
As I've followed the story -- and so much of it has been told so well by my CBS News colleague Sharyl Attkisson -- I keep thinking about the mission and the frustrations of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. The folks there are, unsurprisingly, apoplectic at the week's events. A Republican-dominated Congress that has done nothing to stop gun trafficking on the Mexican border all of sudden is concerned enough about gun trafficking on the Mexican border to quickly hold contempt hearings and a floor vote?