Jesus, as if there weren’t reason enough to think that our current White House has not one whit of respect for the rule of law, Dahlia Lithwick’s Slate column today about the attempt to coerce an ICU-bound John Ashcroft into certifying the legality of the NSA wiretapping program should be enough to cement that fact. It really does play like a Harrison Ford thriller — the acting Attorney General finding out that Bush’s Chief of Staff and the White House Counsel intended to take advantage of Ashcroft’s heavily medicate state and then racing, sirens ablaze, to the hospital to intervene, the President overtly being told that his program was illegal and then deciding to continue it despite that fact, the whole bit. The Post has more on the whole escapade, including a damning editorial and a piece about Alberto Gonzales refusing to retract a 2006 sworn statement that the NSA program had aroused no dissent or controversy within the Bush administration (leading to speculation that there are other surveillance programs we don’t know about).

While I don’t hold a lot of sympathy for those who have been willing to unquestioningly carry Bush’s water over these past six-plus years, I actually do feel a little bad for the rank and file Republicans — I suspect that their party will find it incredibly hard to avoid being defined for years to come by the abhorrent behavior, intransigent lawlessness, and reckless disregard for the truth that’s emanated from the Oval Office since 2001.