Good Answer

Justice; it’s something that’s been lacking when it comes to holding this administration responsible for its actions.  What’s worse, it seems as though the game is rigged in such a way that justice may never be served.

As I mentioned last week, seeing Bush and his administration face justice is chief among my deepest desires.  I would dance naked in the streets if he were impeached.  I would even accept monetary donations of less than twenty dollars not to as opposed to my going price of fifty I would be so happy.

But things being what they are, this is all little more than a dream.  I recognize this.  In fact I’ve sort of wallowed in the fact that as much as I wished impeachment were possible, I also must admit that it isn’t necessarily feasible.  Not in our political climate anyway.

Still, I greatly appreciate the answer that Obama gives when asked if he would have key members of the Bush administration investigated for War Crimes:

What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.

So this is an area where I would want to exercise judgment — I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General — having pursued, having looked at what’s out there right now — are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it’s important– one of the things we’ve got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law — and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.

This, to me, is the right answer.  Let’s not kid ourselves, the prosecution or impeachment of Bush and his cadre of torturers takes us down a path that is perilous indeed.  This especially for a newly installed Democratic president with a Democratic majority.  There is a fine line to balance upon between seeking justice and being out for partisan blood, and getting painted as the latter would do much to damage Democratic and progressive politics for some time.

As much as I wish it was as simple as George Bush being incredibly unpopular so no one would have a problem impeaching the guy or trying him for war crimes, it’s simply not.  The thing that bothers me the most about doing something of this sort is that if we don’t have all our ducks in a row, we take the big risk of allowing the Republicans to play the victim which is a role that they play incredibly well.

And, as Obama says, there’s going to be a lot of other problems and challenges to address once we finally evict the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and if we do not proceed with caution on bringing the Bush administration to justice, we will find these other challenges will become much harder for us to face.

It’s not the ideal answer.  It’s not the answer a lot of liberals, progressives, Democrats, and just pissed off people want to hear, but this is the reality on the ground.  They may never be brought to justice, but at least Obama’s answer indicates that if they can, they will.

One Response to “Good Answer”

  1. DrGail says:

    It starts looking like the impeachment of Bill Clinton was a brilliant tactical move, doesn’t it? Rather than leaving the run-up to impeachment of Dick Nixon for genuine crimes as the primary modern-day example of impeachment, they went after Bill Clinton for a stupid, trumped-up crime that emanated from what is (or should be) a deeply personal matter.

    Now, the entire issue of impeaching a president takes on ugly partisan overtones — never mind the fact that the GOP put them there — so that Dubya is effectively shielded from legitimate impeachment.

    Damn, I hate when genius is used for evil rather than good!

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