Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Big Guys Collide

You see the title, so take a guess. Is this entry concerned with the upcoming Super Bowl, or are we talking politics again?
OK, let's do both, though football is far more easily "tackled" because they do this every year. This time around it's the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team so well-known that it even pops up in country music songs, vs. the Arizona Cardinals, a team with a name like a spring training baseball roster, who have been both obscure and mediocre for decades. The Steelers are favored, but the Cardinals' quarterback is a guy from Cedar Rapids, so I'll root for them. I have no opinion on who will have the best TV commercial. They'll do it again next year, probably with two different teams.

Now for politics. Our new president has pressed lots of buttons during his first week in office. We shouldn't confuse activity with accomplishment, but Mr. Obama seems to be prepared against one of President Carter's faults, that of assuming that when the election's over, everyone will think the same way and line up at the White House door asking for leadership. Nope - winning only means you get to play politics at the next level, not that you'll be followed.
Let's take the example of Cabinet appointments. Most of the new Cabinet officials are now in place, with a few exceptions, the chief one being Attorney General. It's a sensitive situation for lots of reasons, including the stunning incompetence of the Bush Department of Justice. The Obama nominee is Eric Holder, a Clinton administration vet with fine qualifications.
Senate Republicans are willing to let Holder take office, but not without conditions. After all, these are men and women of principle, standing (at least until recently) on the moral high ground, arbiters of right and wrong as they see it. So, what do they ask in return for votes for Holder? What's the "line in the sand" for these Solons of the Party of Lincoln, TR and the Gipper?
Here it is. They want the Obama administration to forget they ever heard the name "Bush". Ditto the names "Cheney", "Rumsfeld", and so forth. Instead of shining the light of truth on things the Bush heavyweights may have done of questionable legality, they simply want it all to be forgotten. It's OK if History judges, because that part can't be stopped. Just as long as no one actually gets dragged into court. Lying, conspiracy, unequal justice, illegal imprisonment, torture, and intelligence cherrypicking - ALL should be forgotten in exchange for the new president's choice for Attorney General being allowed to function.
It's a cynical offer with a dark purpose. "Everyone", say the senators, "has their price. This is ours. Take it or leave it." And we can't know for some time what the Obama response is, even if Holder is confirmed, because he was elected without, it must be said, a clear mandate to prosecute Bush Administration crimes. The losers in this? Not to sound too gloomy, because I wish Obama all the success he can find, but it could be us, that is, those of us still convinced that we need a government of "laws, and not of men".


Anonymous Jeff Vahldick said...

How nice of the Republican minority to again put the American people first by trying to put the past behind us and focusing on the future.(OK,maybe it is CYA time for them). I really think we need to look forward to better times, but those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. So let us not forget Bush or supply side economics.

8:33 AM  

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