Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Scooter Effect

The current brouhaha over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys seems to be another politicizing of legal process, in almost exactly the same vein as the prosecution of Scooter Libby for perjury in the Plame affair. In both cases, you have a supposed "crime" that gets downgraded to an "outrage", once everyone figures out that nobody has broken any laws. There is absolutely nothing illegal about the firings; the U.S. Attorneys are political appointees, hired and fired at the President's will. However, just like in the Plame case, there is the appearance of misconduct, or at least political hardball; once again the Administration appears to be punishing people who cross their path or don't do their bidding.

Now, the Democrats have no problem with the notion of political payback: witness the abuse that Senator John Kerry heaped upon ambassadorial nominee Sam Fox for having the temerity to fund opposition to his presidential bid. Everyone is used to that sort of thing as just a part of the game. So why should we be shocked, shocked to find that the hiring and firing of U.S. Attorneys is somehow linked to political concerns?

In the Plame affair, the underlings dutifully obfuscated the role of the higher-ups in the political non-crimes. Scooter Libby was rewarded with a perjury conviction. Now it looks like the underlings have gotten the message; covering for your boss can put you in hot water, regardless of the legality of the underlying matter. So aides like Michael Battle and Monica Goodling are either invoking the Fifth Amendment or letting the blame roll right back uphill.

It's interesting to note that hardly anyone, either Republican or Democrat, is talking about the particular reasons these U.S. Attorneys are being let go. The real underlying political reasons for the dismissals are related to indictments of lawmakers; evidently these attorneys didn't pursue prosecution of certain Democrats when they could, or went ahead with prosecution of Republicans that perhaps they could have let slide. Perhaps they don't talk about it because it's complicated and involved and doesn't make for good sound bites. Or, more likely, they really don't want the public to witness how lawmakers abuse power themselves, and then use their power to deflect prosecution for their crimes. If the public really understood that, they would not be able to sustain any moral outrage. It's one thing when justice is undone by politics; but when we see that it's not a question of justice at all, but just a legal and political knife-fight between two parties, we tune out.



Post a Comment

<< Home