Paul Krugman takes a look back over the last year and assesses changes in the political landscape and changes in the view of presidents who break the law:
Heck of a Job, Bushie, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: A year ago, everyone expected President Bush to get his way on Social Security. ... A year ago, everyone thought Congress would make Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent, in spite of projections showing that doing so would lead to budget deficits ... But Congress hasn't acted... A year ago, Mr. Bush made many Americans feel safe, because they believed that he would be decisive and effective in an emergency. But Mr. Bush was apparently oblivious to the first major domestic emergency since 9/11. ... [A]ides ... finally decided, days after Hurricane Katrina struck, that they had to show him a DVD of TV newscasts to get him to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.
A year ago, before "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" became a national punch line, the rising tide of cronyism ... unqualified political appointees attracted hardly any national attention. A year ago, hardly anyone ... had heard of Jack Abramoff, and Tom DeLay's position as House majority leader seemed unassailable.
A year ago, Dick Cheney, who repeatedly cited discredited evidence linking Saddam to 9/11 ... was widely admired ... A year ago, Howard Dean - who was among the very few ... to question Colin Powell's prewar presentation to the United Nations, and who warned... that the occupation of Iraq would be much more difficult than the initial invasion - was considered flaky and unsound.
A year ago, it was clear that before the Iraq war, the administration suppressed information suggesting that Iraq was not, in fact, trying to build nuclear weapons. Yet few people in Washington or in the news media were willing to say that the nation was deliberately misled into war until polls showed that most Americans already believed it.
A year ago, the Washington establishment treated Ayad Allawi as if he were Nelson Mandela. ... But Mr. Allawi turned out to be another Ahmad Chalabi, a hero of Washington ... who had few supporters where it mattered, in Iraq. A year ago, when everyone respectable agreed that we must "stay the course," ... It would have been hard to imagine the top U.S. commander in Iraq saying, as Gen. George Casey recently did, that a smaller foreign force is better "because it doesn't feed the notion of occupation."
A year ago, Mr. Bush hadn't yet openly reneged on Scott McClellan's 2003 pledge that "if anyone in this administration was involved" in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity, that person "would no longer be in this administration." ... A year ago, we didn't know that Mr. Bush was lying, or at least being deceptive, when he said at an April 2004 event promoting the Patriot Act that "a wiretap requires a court order. ...When we're ... chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. ... constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest.
A year ago, we didn't know for sure that almost all the politicians and pundits who thundered, during the Lewinsky affair, that even the president isn't above the law have changed their minds. But now we know when it comes to presidents who break the law, it's O.K. if you're a Republican.
Update: Full column.