Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/08/2008 (4:37 pm)

Cause for Civil War

Byron York on Wednesday wrote about an interview he noticed from this year’s Netroots Nation convention last month in Austin, TX. David Kurtz from leftist blog Talking Points Memo interviewed Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.com concerning a serious discussion that had taken place at the conference about how to hold the Bush administration accountable for “war crimes” and “violations of the law.”

I’ve embedded the YouTube video of the interview, but you might not want to watch it. Personally, I couldn’t get through any 2 minutes of it without pausing it and having to leave the room to go vent somewhere. It’s about 10 minutes long. Two intelligent-sounding individuals are discussing calmly how to go about prosecuting the Bush administration for the heinous act of carefully examining the law and attempting to pursue sound defense policy without violating it. Lithwick actually claimed that the most pernicious aspect of the Bush administration’s behavior was how they deliberately chose locations for foreign combatants that were outside the jurisdictions of US courts, and appointed District and Circuit Court judges who were friendly to their interpretation of the law, as though this was a prosecutable war crime. How this differs from the behavior of Democrats (discounting for the moment the clear violations of law under Democratic leadership, like the 1996 campaign finance scandal) is beyond me. And then they discuss how the nation will be “unrecognizable” if McCain appoints two or three more judges like Scalia and Roberts, who actually believe that the Constitution’s authors meant precisely what they wrote.

This is just the tip of a very ugly iceberg that’s been floating into the harbor for a while now. The Left, if it gains power, seriously intends to prosecute the Bush administration for what amount to policy differences. Barack Obama actually stated his intent to at least consider doing so in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News back in April, when he was still trying to outflank Hillary Clinton on the left. The American Thinker wrote about it a few months later, and quoted Obama at length, including this:

…one of the things we’ve got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing between really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity.

Hey, I’ve actually said that I thought certain Democratic policies are “criminally stupid,” but I didn’t actually mean I wanted to prosecute them for it. Obama, however, means exactly what he says. Discussions here at The Blue Voice, here at Salon.com, and here at LegalSchnauzer all advocate prosecution of imagined wrongdoing, and the Lithwick interview tells us that they’re seriously discussing the options.

It’s not as though there have been no investigations during the Bush administration. The Left started hurling false accusations before Bush even took office, and has never stopped. They’ve investigated apparent links between the Bush administration and oil vendors in Texas, and found none. They’ve investigated pressure by the Bush administration to alter intelligence reports during the run-up to the Iraq war, and found none. They’ve investigated an alleged attempt to harm a private citizen by exposing his wife’s alleged covert status publicly, and found nothing (although one official was arrested for lying during the investigation). They’ve investigated alleged “lies” in the administration’s public argument for the Iraq war, and found that all statements conformed to the available intelligence. They’ve been investigating the perfectly legal firing of 8 US attorneys during the President’s 2nd term, and have found nothing but some low-level officials preferring to hire Republicans. They’ve been attempting to prove that Karl Rove orchestrated a witch hunt against the felony-convicted governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, and found nothing. They even attempted to prove the President skipped the last few months of his Air Force Reserve tour 35 years ago, for cryin’ out loud — and got caught forging documents trying to prove it. When Nancy Pelosi took over leadership of the House of Representatives, the Democrats launched three hundred separate investigations into the Bush administration, resulting in the subpoenas of more than 1 million documents. Have you heard of any wrongdoing found? At all? (This is as opposed to the four serious investigations into the last Democratic administration in the White House, investigations having nothing to do with policy choices, wherein all four produced significant evidence of very real criminal activity.)

We already know the truth about the Bush administration; they have been scrupulous about attempting to conduct national defense aggressively while keeping the law in mind. They’ve pushed right up to what they consider the limits, and willingly stopped there. Where they could, they’ve actually accommodated the demands of their adversaries. There have been some instances of patronage jobs being handed out, which is disappointing but hardly surprising among politicians. The Bush administration has been the most corruption-free administration in my lifetime, bar none. It’s also been the most scrupulously examined.

But that’s not good enough for the “Progressives.” We’ve made jokes about Bush Derangement Syndrome, but this is no joke. This is Stalinista-style hearings, “Truth Panels,” aimed at making examples of those who dared violate Progessive orthodoxy. They cannot abide by the facts found by properly appointed agents of the law, so they will produce show trials with guaranteed results. How can we expect otherwise? The legally constituted inquiries that produced no evidence of criminal activity did not satisfy them; they know the Bush administration is criminal despite the flood of evidence to the contrary, and will not rest until a panel has produced that result.

A blogger named Jerry Pournelle foresees war as the inevitable response to such an attempt. He’s quoted by Instapundit (read the Instapundit post, Prof. Reynolds excerpts the only relevant comment from Pournelle’s meanderings.) The emphasis is mine:

Democrats seem to be drifting toward the concept of prosecution of former office holders by criminalizing policy differences. That’s a certain formula for civil war; perhaps not immediate, but inevitable. The absolute minimum requirement for democratic government is that the loser be willing to lose the election: that losing an election is not the loss of everything that matters. As soon as that assurance is gone, playing by the rules makes no sense at all.

Reynolds follows this with a comparison to the Roman Civil War, which is worth reading. Once the line of co-laboring under a common Constitution is crossed, there’s no saving the republic; there’s only survival, and attempting to reconstruct something workable after the fighting.

A comment by one J. E. Dyer after Commentary’s brief blurb about Byron York’s article makes my case succinctly. He concludes:

Anyone can declare that he perceives a “gray area,” but his perception should be no more actionable by government than another’s perception that someone he dislikes is a horse’s ass. Our constitutionally-appointed checks and balances have already kicked in on the Bush administration: Bush’s policies and executive actions have been the subjects of a special prosecutor, Congressional inquiries, and lawsuits. We have results from those processes. The fact that some partisans would have preferred different results doesn’t render any territory in this history “gray.”

The bottom line here is that the leftists who advocate a “truth commission” approach don’t like the outcome of due process of law, in the case of Bush’s executive. What they want is a do-over using a wholly unaccountable process from OUTSIDE the Constitution, one through which they can try to destroy people with accusation and innuendo, strung out in the public eye for as long as possible. They are behaving exactly like Bolshevik cadre, and they should be called out as such. There is no room in constitutional, rule-of-law government for hijacking the forms of government to perform Soviet-style purges, complete with show trials.

The most complete discussions I found were at American Power and Wolf Howling; you’ll find lots of links at both places to what the Leftists are up to. Jimmie at The Sundries Shack rounds us out with this observation:

I can almost guarantee you that if the Democrats take untrammeled control of the Federal Government, they will make Joseph McCarthy look like an elderly nun on Thorazine.

My reaction is, “They already have. What they’ll do next will do Stalin proud.”

Allow me to point once again to the sober reminder of our responsibility under our social and political contract to provide new guards for our future security if our form of government becomes destructive of our God-given liberties. We who understand the central importance of liberty of conscience cannot walk away from our responsibility to resist tyrants, even if the tyrants are our neighbors and speak our language. This responsibility is not going to go away, and we need to be ready to step up.

Progressives: is criminalizing policy differences worth the violence that will inevitably follow the attempt? Please be assured that I am serious; you will not be permitted to prosecute politicians who disagree with you without incurring violence.

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