Skip ahead to 2:05, bearing in mind that this guy might have ended up as Attorney General under President McCain. A few minutes earlier, Harry Reid told Schieffer that Congress will “take a look” at Jones’s act and the ensuing “protests” in Afghanistan, so at a minimum there’ll probably be some sort of congressional resolution of disapproval. Maybe hearings too: Reid wouldn’t commit to that, but he didn’t rule it out. As for Graham, “I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable,” he laments, clearly deflated by the thought that the First Amendment applies even while we’re “at war.” And if you’re not sure what he means by “at war” — well, I’m not either. Are we “at war” only if troops are in the field? No Koran-burning, in other words, until the last U.S. serviceman has left Iraq and Afghanistan (and Libya)? Or are we “at war” as long as Al Qaeda and other anti-American jihadist movements exist, ready and willing to demagogue acts like Jones’s for their own uses? Even if all Islamist outfits in the world were eliminated, wouldn’t Graham want to continue the ban on Koran-burning lest it inspire new jihadist outfits to spring up? There’s no limiting principle to this idea, realistically. It’d end up being his own version of an “emergency law.”
Ironically, though, the more attention Congress devotes to this, the worse they’ll make it. If Reid and Graham were stupid enough to hold hearings (which they almost certainly aren’t), it’d be a galactic clusterfark — a spotlight for Jones, a red alert for civil libertarians, and an offense to a public that’s tired of double standards for religious insults. If nothing else good comes from this incident, though, it’s at least been useful as a window into the mindset of our trusted “ally” Hamid Karzai, who did his level best to earn brownie points with the fanatics among his constituents by demagoging this to the hilt. As voters get set for another debate this summer about whether we should draw down in Afghanistan, make sure that isn’t forgotten.