They say that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. It took me a few days to actually watch the controversial ad run by a group, Keep America Safe, which was co-founded by Liz Cheney, former deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Repulsive is the first work that comes to mind. It is one of the finest attributes of our civilization - the right to a lawyer - that is being attacked here. Where would our judicial system be without the application of this right? In fact, that is not an entirely rhetorical question because there was a time in our not so distant past when what claimed to be justice overlooked the right to legal representation or even a trail for that matter: Lynch mobs dispensed with the right to legal counsel. I do not anticipate seeing a photograph of Ms. Cheney in a white hood, but let’s be clear: She and Joe McCarthy would have spoken long in to the night.
I especially liked the reference to the "Al-Qaeda Seven" in the ad, a not very subtle, or very applicable, reference to the Chicago Seven, the group of protesters arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Of course, the Chicago Seven refers to the alleged perpetrators of the riots, not to their lawyers, but it is one of the hallmarks of these kinds of McCarthyite smears (whether they come from the right or the left) that such niceties are overlooked in the crafting of metaphors. Of course, Cheney and her group would do well to remember that two of the Chicago seven were acquitted and the convictions of the others were thrown out.
To be commended are those conservative, Republican leaders who have come out and denounced this outrageous attack. Such legal notables as Ken Starr, Larry Thompson and John Bellinger III are among the signatories of a letter that stated "We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications." They correctly cite one of the earliest, and foundational, examples of a patriot taking on a controversial client when John Adams, future second President of the United States, defended the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. It will be curious to see which of our friends in the conservative Catholic blogosphere join Starr et al., in denouncing Cheney's vicious attacks.
Shame on Liz Cheney. Of course, we know where she got it. Her father treated American laws against torture cavalierly and presided over an administration that turned signing statements into an unconstitutional form of veto. Mr. Cheney will go down in history as one of the most sinister men to ever hold office in the United States and it appears his daughter wishes to join him in the annals of political shame.
Michael Sean Winters