Following Monday's felony arrests of four men for allegedly tampering with the phone system in U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office, an interesting media meme emerged almost immediately: that the men, all in their mid-20s, were somehow "kids." Michael Madigan, lawyer for 25-year-old James O'Keefe, told the press, "I don't know the facts yet of what exactly happened, but at heart James O'Keefe is a good kid." Speaking to Fox News, Madigan called him "a really good kid." O'Keefe's father, James O'Keefe Sr., told Fox: "He's a good kid."
The other men — Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan — are all 24, but that didn't stop Megan McArdle, writing for The Atlantic, to wonder: "How likely is it that these kids knew how to tap a phone system?" John Hood, in the National Review Online, opined, "I doubt the kids were trying to install some kind of wiretap on the senator's office phone system."
David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, took it even further: "I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict: the James O'Keefe/Landrieu phone interference case will be resolved with a very stern talking to by a judge, no criminal record, and 100 hours of community service each for the four arrested young people. Which seems about right."
Landrieu had a different take, telling Politico: "This isn't a child — this is a 24 year old."
O'Keefe, Basel, Dai and Flanagan were released on $10,000 bond each and formally charged by the FBI with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony, a charge not normally associated with "community service" or stern talking-tos. — Kevin Allman