They seem to have been busy finding a way to do just enough: go six inches into the tunnel of Benghazi; fail to find the IRS audit until the administration itself pre-emptively leaked it and forced them to notice. And their handprints appear to be on none of the godawful news stories that are breaking out all over.

But it looks like they’ve no choice. The subpoenas are being reluctantly generated faster than anyone likes and criminal lawyers are turning out to be a very scarce and necessary commodity.

If the Republicans come in on this — which they must — it will be as a way to avoid the scandal of saying nothing. And that suggests that trouble engulfing Capitol City will affect not just a party, but will go to the heart of business as usual. The insiders are discovering that something’s not quite right any more; something has backed up in the plumbing. Things are not going away like they should. Not for the administration. Maybe not for anybody.

Perhaps the narrative is now being stretched to the breaking point by all the blunders of the past. It’s like a garbage bag that’s managed to hold up this far, but no further.

Most presidents have second-term crises. But this seems bigger than that; not the second term of a president, but the tenth-term crisis of a system, one that grew up years ago and can’t make it another step.

One of the most interesting things about these headlines is that none of them are about their apparent subject: believe it or not, the problem is not about pressure cookers, local crime in Philadelphia, a sideshow in Libya, or the propriety of a national security subpoena. Those are just proxy words, code phrases that the media uses in place of verboten things which it is bad manners to address directly.

The real subject is power, money, and lies, and they way these work together by the Potomac. We’ll know that the next phase is here when the conversation starts using the actual names for all the things we dare only glimpse in a dim and darkened mirror.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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