Sunday, September 14, 2008

When history mimics a Tom Clancy wild-ride

Or, "what is truly at stake on November 4th, 2008."

Did you ever read, or see the movie, A Clear and Present Danger?  If not, take a couple of hours and watch it.  It quite an energetic, fanciful journey into the heart of darkness of the hallowed halls of the CIA, NSA, FBI and the White House.  But I never imagined that it could really happen.  Of course, the last 8 years has made a fool of me.  As it has you, and all of America.

These 8 years have set an almost unthinkable precedent for what an Executive can do, contrary to the express will of the people as articulated in law by the Constitution.  And America shrugs.  Alternating through bouts of fear and complacency we have, collectively, given the green light to continue on this path.

There are many, many examples of what has “gone wrong” since 9/11 (and almost none of it is what the terrorists have done to us).  This one article encapsulates a whole lot of it.  What’s incredible is that I no longer find it incredible. 

Soon after hearing what had happened between Goldsmith and Gonzales, the vice president asked Andy Card to set up a meeting at noon with Mike Hayden, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, and John McLaughlin from the CIA (substituting for his boss, George J. Tenet). Cheney spoke to them in Card's office, the door closed.

Four hours later, at 4 p.m., the same cast reconvened. This time the Justice contingent was invited. Comey, Goldsmith and Philbin found the titans of the intelligence establishment lined up, a bunch of grave-faced analysts behind them for added mass. The spy chiefs brought no lawyers. The law was not the point. This meeting, described by officials with access to two sets of contemporaneous notes, was about telling Justice to set its qualms aside.

Anyway, point is, the precedents are set.  But not set in stone.  Yet.

Would President Obama be a better President than McCain on our economic woes (related to our war woes) and in restoring fruitful relations with the major world players?  Almost certainly.  Would he be better on education, health care and developing new forms of energy to propel us through the 21st century?  Absolutely.  But all of these things are meaningless without our basic constitutional rights being restored.  Only Obama has a chance of accomplishing this task.

McCain/Palin would represent a solidification of what Bush/Cheney (or Cheney/Bush) has unleashed.  It seems like a big part of the restoration would have to include the prosecution of anyone who defied the Constitution during Bush’s presidency.  That absolutely will  not happen if McCain is elected.  Worse, the policies that Bush put in place will be followed and probably expanded.

By the end of McCain/Palin (and who knows when that would be?) America will not be America anymore.  You have to wonder if it is even now.


The Exterminator said...

The precedents won't be undone unless there's some kind of formal criminal prosecutions. If not, those anti-Constitutional actions may be hidden under the table for a while, but they'd still be available for any president -- Republican or Democrat -- who wanted to take advantage of them.

So, here's a counter-scenario. I admit it involves a few big ifs, but so does yours.

So let's think in terms of realpolitick. If a Democratic administration under Obama tried to bring charges against Bushney & Co, the whole affair would be dismissed as "playing politics." In fact, I don't think the Democrats have the cojones to do anything about the criminality of the previous eight years. They certainly haven't shown any backbone during the last two years.

On the other hand, if McCain's administration wanted to distinguish itself quickly from the Bushies, show what mavericks they are, and "prove" that they can work in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, what better way than by bringing charges against their predecessors? (Of course, none of the real power brokers -- the monied interests lurking unseen in the shadows -- would be affected.) From what we've heard about POW-Man's famous temper, it wouldn't surprise me if he decided to exact his vengeance against Bush for dirty tricks in 2000. Coming from McCain, any prosecutions could not be dismissed as merely "political," and you can bet your ass that most members of both parties would trumpet their approval.

This is not an argument to vote for McCain. The big odds are that he wouldn't do anything to rock the Republican boat. But, given the fecklessness of Democrats, I'd say the above scenario has about as much chance of really happening as yours does.

On the other hand, if Obama appointed Kucinich or Wexler as Attorney General, I might have to eat my words. (Perhaps Philly could prepare a decent barbecue sauce to make them more palatable.) But don't hold your breath.

John Evo said...

Sorry, I won't take your hundred bucks to my ten on a bet that McCain is going into office to return Constitutional law to America. He's made it abundantly clear that a continuation of Bush/Cheney is in order. What planet would you have to be from to think he will buck, not just his old nemesis Bush, but every backer of Bushian America since 9/11?

Oh, sure, IF he prosecuted Bush it would make it MUCH easier! So? If Ronald Reagan had pushed through universal health care, we would have had it for 20 years too!

Come on. The world ain't pretty, but join it anyway.

The Exterminator said...

Well of course my proposed scenario is nuts. But the point of it was: Is it any more nuts than thinking that the Democrats will do anything?

Remember: They're the party who brought you Nancy (Impeachment is off the Table) Pelosi and Harry (We Could Stop Funding the War, but We Won't) Reid. Oh, and Barack (Security Trumps the Fourth Amendment) Obama.

John Evo said...

I understand you point.

Mine is - Give me Pelosi, Reed and Obama anytime over the alternative and therefore I'd never say a word that would lead a thinking person to even consider the possibility that things won't be so bad under McCain.

Grumpy Lion said...

If McCain is elected and has no Congressional majorities to restrain him, how long before we are in the streets and blood is running in the gutters?

heather said...

(I hesitate to express any opinion on your election any more, given that, a few days ago, the BBC HaveYourSay was full of Merkins saying that the rest of the world asking them to vote for Obama made them want to vote for McCain.)

I agree with you completely that - unlikely as it is that Obama would prosecute Bush and co - the chance of McCain doing it is a lot smaller than a very small thing.