(Note to Obama supporters, please see the requisite disclaimer and loyalty pledge at the end of the essay)
Ah, for the good old days of having the three independent branches of government that made democracy thrive!
For anyone who questions whether the precedents or paradigms of Bushco and the Unitary Executive Theory of Presidential power live on, be reassured that they do! Not to mention using those powers for political purposes!
The big difference? Bush NEVER backed down to Democrats.
So no, for those wondering and ready to pounce, the preceeding sentence proves I am not engaging in the heresy of Obama=Bush.
President Obama does back down to his political opponents. Unlike Bush.
In a lengthy exchange with House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Obama appeared to back away from a statement earlier this week that suggested he could support an independent commission to examine possible abuses, according to several attendees who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss the private meeting freely. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, also seeking to clarify the president’s position, told reporters that “the president determined the concept didn’t seem altogether workable in this case” because of the intense partisan atmosphere built around the issue.
Apparently he is willing to silence his own party, use his influence to politicize justice and exert undue influence on the other branches of government to advance his political agenda. Which brings us to another way he does not equal Bush.
His policies are much needed and incredibly admirable. That does not in any way excuse him from attempting to tell Congress what they should do in order to advance them. Or excuse him from “knuckling under” to the Hard Right. (Read that link!)
As Gibbs said:
“The last few days might be evidence of why something like this might just become a political back and forth.”
Uh-huh. CITIZENS push for justice, an incredibly damning bipartisan Senate report is issued that directly states that torture was approved at the highest levels is issued, on the heels of the government being forced to release incredibly damning legal memos by the ACLU, that came on the heels of the incredibly damning leak of the ICRC report that charges torture….
The press (finally) starts reporting on torture, public outrage grows…
But then the Republicans start making scary noises about all of this evidence coming out and the apparently ludicrously partisan idea that someone MIGHT ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT ALL OF THIS EVIDENCE.
And THAT is a “political back and forth???”
There was nothing political about all of this (besides the disgraced political party whining that is accused of frikking War Crimes whining that investigating their War Crimes is political) UNTIL President Obama just made it so by using his political clout to tell another branch of government to STFU…..for political reasons.
And of course Fighting Harry Reid immediately fell on his knees before the Republicans and Obama.
Leaving, in an ironic but possible amazingly redemptive moment, only Nancy “off the table” Pelosi to assert that the House is still an independent body of American democracy and that it will ACT independently of the executive branch.
So in order to embrace that irony and advance the interests of Justice over Politics let me say, as much as it pains me to after the last few years of fighting her over impeaching these same torturers….
Fortunately, I think the President has “lost control of this issue.” More reports are due. SOME of the next Abu Ghraib photos are to be released in late May. Whistleblowers and people with actual knowledge are speaking up.
And the press seems to find the “controversy” over torture ‘sexy’ now. I think and I hope that the horses have left the barn and that not even Obama can put them back in at this point.
Requisite disclaimer and loyalty pledge:
So it is important to note, as we try to figure out WTF Obama is doing, that this really could be a political maneuver to distance himself from the torture controversy and the perceived political back and forth.
He can now point to this blatant knuckling under to the Hard Right and claim he tried to stop the investigations.
But think about that for a moment. The President just tried to pressure Congress to stop an investigation.
I support Obama, I support his policies, I deeply sympathize with him as he tries to work his way through the simply stunning minefield of criminality and bullshit that Bush left our country in the middle of. I sincerely doubt anyone could do better. And just because I am pressuring him on this one issue, I am still unwilling to cut off the baby to spite the bathwater.
But really, after the last eight years….
How can anybody support this bald politicization of justice?
As Pulitzed Prize winner Eugene Robinson says..
The many roads of inquiry into the Bush administration’s abusive “interrogation techniques” all lead to one stubborn, inconvenient fact: Torture is not just immoral but also illegal. This means that once we learn the whole truth, the law will oblige us to act on it.
Despite what the President says. In this case, on this issue, it is the President who should STFU.
And let the DOJ and the Congress do their jobs. At this point anything he says is now political. And though the Repubs will try to obfuscate the clear duty of Congress and the DOJ politics has NO place in this pursuit of justice.
I sincerely hope this will be his last statement on this issue.