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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 31, 2008

 
The Long War

by digby

I'm taking a lot of criticism lately for fighting old wars and refusing to see that we are on the cusp of major change and that the Republicans are old news. I actually fervently hope that is correct. But if you want to know why I'm not so sanguine, and why I think progressives are just fighting one more bloody battle in a long political war, read Greenwald's post today.

All day long, in response to Mukasey's insistence that patent illegalities were legal, that Congress was basically powerless, and that the administration has no obligation to disclose anything to Congress (and will not), Senators would respond with impotent comments such as: "Well, I'd like to note my disagreement and ask you to re-consider" or "I'm disappointed with your answer and was hoping you would say something different" or "If that's your position, we'll be discussing this again at another point." They were supplicants pleading for some consideration, almost out of a sense of mercy, and both they and Mukasey knew it.

Mukasey can go and casually tell them to their faces that the President has the right to violate their laws and that Congress has no power to do anything about it. And nothing is going to happen. And everyone -- the Senators, Bush officials, the country -- knows that nothing is going to happen. There is nothing too extreme that Mukasey could say to those Senators that would prompt any consequences greater than some sighing and sorrowful expressions of disapproval.


Democrats may very well win the election. And they may have a large working majority. Hopefully they will get some good things done for the country. But if they do not run on and then act on these constitutional abuses, they will be used again the next time a Republican is in office (if not sooner) and we will have to fight this battle all over again, having lost a tremendous amount of territory in the meantime. What we will have lost in terms of morality and decency is uncountable.

This stuff should not be brushed aside. And my biggest worry is that neither Clinton, due to the structural and institutional loathing for her in the political establishment, or Obama, who is running as a uniter not a fighter and will have little political capital for "looking backwards," will make this a priority.

Here's why I take nothing at face value about these people:

Harper's Scott Horton, who was a law partner of Mukasey's and originally endorsed his confirmation -- on the grounds that he would be more likely than other potential nominees to exhibit independence (an assessment I shared) -- had this to say after watching the hearing yesterday:
Watching Mukasey was a painful experience. . . .The Senate Judiciary Committee put Michael Mukasey to the test yesterday. And he left the hearing room as an embarrassment to those who have known and worked with him over the last twenty years, and who mistakenly touted his independence and commitment to do the right thing, come what may.


Ask yourself what kind of political movement and party can induce a highly respected former federal judge to publicly destroy his reputation and his soul to justify torture? Are those the kind of people who give up?

I didn't know then, and I don't know now, why someone like Mukasey should ever get the benefit of the doubt. America gets screwed every. single. time. So everyone is going to have to excuse me for not being entirely caught up in all the primary hooplah and continuing to fight the last war instead. Watching that hearing yesterday it was pretty hard to conclude that the Republicans have surrendered.


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