As the media start the lie machine going, that President Obama has broken his pledge to reach out to Republicans, the Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee have tried to stab that very hand. Their attempt to hold up Eric Holder’s nomination as Attorney General in order to extract a promise that he won’t prosecute Bush regime members who participated in torture is blatantly improper and should put an end to the fiction that they learned anything in their defeat last November.
Arlen Specter, the man who will do anything to get his face on TV, and the others who are participating in this blackmail should be forced to back off. For these guys, who have listened to one Republican nominee after another lie about having prejudged cases in their sworn testimony. to call for a preemptive pardon from the Democratic nominee is the poison that should kill the fiction of bipartisanship. It is clearly improper, clearly blackmail and should get even the placid and lackluster Democrats of the Judiciary Committee to show them that, as President Obama might put it, There was an election in November and we won. Republicans on this most pompous and jumped up of committees acting like common thugs won’t understand anything but exercised power.
Republicans have the media on their side, Democrats have The People on their side. The People will understand that torture is wrong and puts our servicemen and others at greater risk. There should be hearings with figures in the Department of Defense to testify on those points. The People, even those who aren’t greatly bothered by the torture of foreign nationals, will understand the theft and pillage of the Bush regime. The hearings into those matters should go on, if information is developed that leads to criminal indictments, those should be prosecuted as possible, basic justice requires it. Not only justice, but the survival of democracy requires that illegal acts by the highest officials be remedied and punished.
There is a long and developed tradition of letting Republican lawbreakers off the hook. From Nixon, to the purely self-interested Bush I preemptive pardon of Caspar Weinberger to this blackmail by Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. This is the party that spent tens of millions of dollars prosecuting literally nothing in the last Democratic administration, it’s the party that has wasted millions of our dollars on the most trivial attempts to use the Department of Justice and the FBI to do their political dirty work.
The Senate has often been the weak link in democratic government. Its inherently anti-democratic structure might be largely responsible for that. It doesn’t help when the placid and stately drones among the Democratic Senators roll over for the party of Nixon and Cheney. That sickening tradition of clubby comity has got to end. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gets it, he has said that he doesn’t intend to roll over, he’s going to do his best to hold them accountable. His relative lack of seniority might have given him a better perspective than those who have caught the venerable disease that afflicts too many of our party. He is the most effective questioner of witnesses on the Judiciary Committee and his is the direction that the too frequently somnolent Democrats with greater seniority should be pushed in. The evidence of the past thirty years hasn’t been enough to make them serve us, we are going to have to light a fire under them.