The Bushies Are Back

Yesterday brought news that Karl Rove was more involved in the firing of a New Mexico federal prosecutor than he has previously let on. This morning brings tidings that Dick Cheney believes the "statute of limitations" for secrets from the Bush White House is over and that he can begin to vent his frustrations with his former boss. In Obamaland, you can hear the champagne corks popping because the best way to portray yourself as centrist and reasonable is to have Rove and Cheney as your political opponents.

Rove’s interference in the Justice Department should probably end up in an indictment. Cabinet officials understandably wear two hats, having to administer their departments on behalf of all Americans but also serving the political agenda of the president. The Justice Department, however, is different from the HUD or HHS given the nature of its job. All Americans, not just the members of the party in power, need to rely on the department to administer justice fairly. There are policies that can be shaped by political appointees, but the prosecutors need to be far removed from political influences if the American people are to have confidence in their judicial system. It tells you all you need to know about the craven priorities of Mr. Rove that he cared nothing for that confidence when the prospect of influencing an election in New Mexico stood to benefit from political interference. There is an adjective for such an abuse of power: Nixonian.

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Cheney’s demons are, if anything, even darker than Rove’s. According to the Post, Cheney is holding conversations with a variety of former officials and authors in preparation for his memoirs. In one of those, he admitted that in their second term, Bush moved away from him. "It was clear that Cheney’s doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times – never apologize, never explain – and Bush moved toward the conciliatory." I understand that many people have different views of the means and the ends of American democracy, but this Bismarkian perspective of "cast-iron strength at all times" is profoundly undemocratic.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was arguably as powerful a President as we have had. When he took office in 1933, people were urging him to assume dictatorial powers. He declined and he also declined to rush Americans into war, keeping his finger on the pulse of American public opinion accurately, even though there were no public opinion polls at the time. But, Roosevelt cajoled and persuaded. He seduced the press he did not bulldozer them. He had all the power that comes with being Commander-in-Chief during a war, and his war involved the entire nation, it was not Bush’s Iraq War, conducted with no draft and accompanied by a tax cut. Yet, I have never seen, and can never imagine, Roosevelt seeing conciliation in such derogatory terms. FDR was a master lower-case d democrat.

Nixon and Bismark. The upper-case D Democrats are looking better by the second.

 

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9 years ago
Michael:
Where are you on:
1) The Obama administration DOJ decision on the Black Panther voter obstruction case, a decision questioned by the Civil Rights Commission
2) Recent Obama administration feelers into privacy invasion of citizens that are getting the attention of the ACLU?
I'm far more interested in the present. Aren't you?
9 years ago
I agree with Ellen in her concern about the present, but I don't think we can or should ignore the past-which is how we got to where we are now.  One of the best arguments made against the Bush administration' claims of extraordinary (and probably unconstitutional powers) was the danger of precedent.  Once the executive branch enjoys a power, it is likely that subsequent administrations (of any party or ideology) will jealously hoard it.  Smart and principled conservatives should have been arguing (as a few did) that the Bush claims had to be opposed , even in a time of emergency, because no administration should have that power, and they should have been especially concerned with the possibility of people they prfoundly disagree with now having the precedent of presidential power.  My point is not to beat up on the Bush people, but to urge the importance of refusing to use certain weapons-because it is a near certainty that they will later be used against you.

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