Earlier today Bloomberg View columnists Margaret Carlson and Ramesh Ponnuru met online to chat about Bradley Manning, Ted Cruz and sexuality issues in the news. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
Ramesh: Bradley Manning got 35 years for giving away every government secret he could get his hands on. Ron Paul says “we need MORE brave Americans” like him. I think the verdict is just. It was right, I think, to throw out the count that had him aiding America’s enemies, which was not his intention. But what he did was bad enough and the next “brave American” ought to be given reasons to think a few times before following his example.
Margaret: Deterrence is the best reason for that sentence. The problem with deterrence in leaking cases is that the leakers seem beyond it. They are zealots on a mission. The person or persons who should have been in the dock with Manning are the military personnel officers who kept moving him around because he was about to wash out until they gave him the keys to the kingdom. Isn't the military supposed to spot misfits? Now we learn that inside him lives Chelsea Manning yearning to breathe free. Find me the official who put him in a position to leak the biggest cache of classified documents in U.S. history.
Ramesh: This seems to be a pattern, too. Someone put Edward Snowden in a position where vast discretion was required. I wonder, though, whether the Snowden story will affect how the Manning verdict is received. On the left there is some disappointment at how much of the George W. Bush security apparatus Obama has kept, and concern about civil liberties is rising on the right too. (I was recently invited to a Heritage Foundation event on "the emerging American police state.") So does the Manning sentence add to that outrage?
Margaret: Security is where the left and right meet but not sufficiently to pass legislation to curb the police state -- to go with the Heritage Foundation language. What would the fringes want Manning to get?
Ramesh: Slate ran an online survey. Eyeballing it, I'd say it found about a third of respondents saying he shouldn't get anything, or get less than a year. And don't forget that Justin Amash's anti-National Security Agency amendment came pretty close to passing the House.
Margaret: I'd go for something in the middle and also refuse to pay for his sex-change operation. Two other things struck me this week: Let's celebrate Antoinette Tuff, the school bookkeeper just doing her job, heroically talking down a shooter in the most common sense terms I've heard. I wish I could write like she talks. And I love that Senator Ted Cruz, The Man in The Biggest Hurry, is renouncing his dual citizenship. Lucky for him the Canadian Tory won't get the treatment the right wing hounded the Kenyan socialist with. I wonder if Cruz speaks French? That would put him in McCain's wacko bird category.
Ramesh: Ted is at least bilingual, speaking both English and Texan. I've never heard him speak French in all the years I've known him, or for that matter say "about" or "against" in that funny Canadian way. Cruz weighed in this week on the Rand Paul-Chris Christie exchanges. He took Paul's side, saying that the issues he has raised should not be dismissed as "esoteric." That's right, and it's smart politics for him. If he runs in 2016, though, he won't be able to stay best friends with Paul forever.
Margaret: If Cruz ordered French fries (excuse me, freedom fries) it would hurt him with some in your corner (not that Corner, which everyone should read). Not sure Governor Christie signing the bill outlawing the "gay cure" is going to get him the gay vote, but it's a start. He said people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin. I'd say Pope Francis is a little ahead of him on this issue, but change comes slowly to Catholics. Lucky for Obama he's got Republicans spending so much time aiming at each other they are missing their main target. I just saw that the Army won't be paying for Manning's surgery and while I'm way ahead of Christie on gays, I agree with that. Manning has asked the news media to, nonetheless, refer to him henceforth as Chelsea. So, goodbye old girl. If you ever get control of the remote control in the rec room, tune into "Orange Is the New Black." You can identify with the heroine.