When Does This Line Expire?


"Key provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire next year," President Bush said in his State of the Union address last year. "The terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule."

I have to admit I thought the line was moderately clever when I first heard it, but now it just seems inane, especially when combined with Bush's insistence that the nation cannot survive "a single moment" without the PATRIOT Act (which the Republicans clearly do not believe; otherwise they would not have spurned the compromise proposed by the law's critics that would have kept it on the books as is for three months while the two sides worked out their differences). It's even worse when other politicians mindlessly parrot it.

I fully expect this increasingly moldy speechwriter's nugget to survive the New Year in slightly modified form: "The PATRIOT Act expired on December 31, but the terrorist threat did not."