The American people are being asked to believe the most outrageous things – – some of them emanating from the White House, some from the Clinton campaign. It isn’t surprising that the Bush administration continues to operate in a mental sinkhole. What is hard to reconcile is that the Clinton camp has become a low-minded attack machine with Hillary out front maintaining the fiction that her positions are totally rational.

The president says the Democrats are playing politics with the nation’s safety by not finishing up the latest FISA revision although that is probably a misnomer since judicial oversight has long since been disregarded in a landscape littered with wiretap detritus and other surveillance debris. Actually everything is in place except for a legislative grant of retroactive immunity for a communications industry that complied with presidential requests for customer information that proceeded without judicial review.

The president is holding up the security package because he wants to avoid questions about why phone companies undertook electronic interventions on his word alone. It is worth noting that Quest refused to go along for legal concerns and worries about customers’ reactions. That one company decided not to comply with such requests was an indication that there was always something questionable about the president’s assertion of executive power and the failure to involve either of the other two branches of government. How all this gets turned into a charge by the president that the Democrats are engaging in partisan politics is chutzpah raised to a new level.

While most of us are used to Bush rhetoric by now, the way the Clinton folks are conducting themselves and the damage their tactics are doing to the party and its prospects in the general election were an unpleasant surprise. By the time Hillary denounced Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks about Obama’s candidacy the issue had been through several news cycles and defended in heated interviews by Ferraro herself.

However, everyone is talking past the real import of her remarks – – not that she is a racist, but worse, that she used race as a political device to denigrate Senator Obama and support Senator Clinton. Voters are supposed to believe that there’s something lucky about being black and running for president in America. Other black candidates have come and gone while the Clintons and Democrats in general have enjoyed the support of African-Americans in large measure. Hillary lost that support and it went to Obama because she stopped sounding like a friend and he started sounding like the real deal.

Her campaign fellows make statements to the press that Obama can’t win in the general election because Hillary won those “big” states so necessary for victory. But don’t the Democratic candidates usually win California and New York in presidential elections for example? That winning the primary in those states indicates only she can win them in the fall is a sign that either she and her team don’t credit voters with any intelligence or, perhaps, that they are trying to lure super delegates to her camp with the big-state gambit.

Finishing off the week on a bizarre note Senator Clinton said that, failing agreement on a way for the voters of Michigan and Florida to be seated at the convention, the results from January should stand because they were “fair”. She pointed out that she won 55% of the vote in Michigan – – not such a special outcome considering her only opponent was “uncommitted”, and she said at the time that the primaries there and in Florida weren’t going to count anyway since they hadn’t been sanctioned by the party leadership. And, although other names were on the ballot in Florida, one of them was Edwards who is no longer in the race and none of the candidates campaigned in either state.

The topper for outrageous comments, though, were those the president made during a teleconference with troops in Afghanistan. He said he was envious of their opportunity to support a “young democracy” and wished he were younger and not otherwise employed so he could participate in such an exciting, even “romantic”, endeavor. Apparently Viet Nam didn’t engender the same sense of excitement and adventure when he was younger and could have served in combat.

More to the point he doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about how conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated over the last several years. Some romance.