Criminalizing Politics

Remember the good old days, when every outrage, from wars to war crimes, constitutional usurpations and police state tactics, were all breezily waved away as shabby and dangerous examples of “criminalizing politics?”  Back in those days, an administration had its “accountability  moment” only at election time, and in between they were off to the races.  Crocodile tears were shed for media-created “martyrs” like Scooter Libby, and pearl-clutching over the horrors of anybody being prosecuted for obvious crimes big and small, whether they were the garden-variety Hatch act violations of the General Services Administration, or the country’s headlong descent into torture and detention policies that even Stalin would have tried to downplay.  Meddling prosecutors poking around in King George’s business were all unanimously declared beyond the pale, and better yet, possibly unconstitutional, and that was that.

What a difference a few lost elections make.  Today, those very same people who once loudly trumpeted the executive branch as completely above the law, and even criticism, are bleating about the “crimes” the Obama administration supposedly committed in its wooing of Sestak and Romanoff.  Yes, impeachment has been mentioned, too.  The old lawyer’s adage, “when the facts are against you, argue the law, and when the law is against you, argue the facts,” has been adapted for use by Republicans; “when the law is against you, argue the elections, and when the elections are against you, whine about the law.”  It’s quite simple, really, as a strategy, but falling for it does require the touch of amnesia our media is always willing to provide.

Despite their loathing of legal proceedings by “trial lawyers” when they’re in power, count on Republicans to suddenly start getting all obsessed about the “Rule of Law” as soon as Democrats take power.  Beginning in 2006, virtually the entire Democratic leadership was suddenly implicated in one “crime” or another, Nancy Pelosi for supposed perjury, Jane Harman for conspiracy, and on and on.  Coming from the party of Tom DeLay, the irony was pretty rich, but what else can you do when your “accountability moment” went so horribly awry?  Immediately upon the election of Barack Obama, but before he could possibly be tagged for any “crimes,” not having entered office, the whole “birther” thing began, another, albeit even more desperate, way to try to legally finagle victory from the jaws of humiliating defeat.

Now that the administration is in office, though, and their “landslide” that existed only in their minds for November looks less and less likely, the righties are, predictably, yearning to drag somebody into court, and if health care won’t do it, why not primary politics?  Of course, since in neither case was any deal done, and now both of the administration’s chosen candidates are toast, to boot, this might be a slim reed, but Fox still clings to it for dear life.  ”Criminalizing politics” is no longer dirty and disreputable, but honorable and necessary, and the once ubiquitous term itself has now vanished, poof, from public discourse.  Who’d a thunk?


  1. nailheadtom says:

    It really is a shame that a stalwart statesman like Rod Blagojevich has to be sucked into a judicial misunderstanding, isn’t it? You’re correct to be outraged by a system that lays in wait for a fella like that and collars him over a little misinterpretation of the facts. What’s this world coming to?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Crime is endemic to politics, primarily because so much money is involved, and nowhere did I say that Democrats are free of the problem; see Blago, Rangel, Jefferson, and on and on. The difference that it wasn’t systematized, like the K-Street project under Delay… It was individual congressmen getting greedy and stupid for their own reasons, not an organized campaign to defund and prosecute the left as part of a national political strategy, and pig out on bribes in so doing. Apples and oranges, but yes, rotten just the same.
      The Obama administration’s unwillingness to go after any of the real crimes committed by their predecessors, as Republicans would do in a heartbeat, shows that the “criminalizing politics” thing is really a one-way street, and if you’ve been alive from 1992 onward, you’d have noticed the dynamic.

    • michlib says:

      The republicans are lusting after subpeona power so bad it’s not funny. What they envision is the ability to drag Barry or any part of his administration into hearings, no matter how flimsy the basis. Their recipe is VOLUME – at a certain critical point, the number of hearings will serve the McCartyite goal of convincing low info voters that ” all these hearings can’t be over nothing, Martha – must be something rotten goin’ on in that Hussein guy’s gubmint”. Note well the constant invoking of the Luntz-like ” Chicago – style ” politics meme – because we all know the Texas brand is pristine and right-eous.

      • cocktailhag says:

        They love to smear places as being un-American; “San Francisco liberal,” and so on. Any big city will do, since everyone knows that god-fearing patriots only live in the hinterlands. (And if you can’t stoke some cultural resentment every time you open your mouth, you’ve got no business being a Republican…)

  2. nailheadtom says:

    ” Today, those very same people who once loudly trumpeted the executive branch as completely above the law, and even criticism, are bleating about the “crimes” the Obama administration supposedly committed in its wooing of Sestak and Romanoff.”

    Just a slight inversion of reality. The “people who once loudly trumpeted” were the leftist congressional majority and their water carriers in the media, the Bush administration never said anything about being “above the law”. If you’ve ever torn yourself away from “Rules for Radicals” long enough to read the Hatch Act, you’d know that the “most transparent” presidential adminstration ever actually has broken the law. Nothing will come of it, of course. Unlike Scooter Libby, no one will go to jail, because even felons like Sandy Berger escape deserved incarceration if they’re wearing the Democrat lapel pin.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Oh, yeah, the Unitary Executive theory was a “democrat” creation. Right. And the Republicans sat in respectful silence during the Clinton era. I know, as the shouts of “crime” petered out, now y’all are on this new thing about “transparency,” which, surprise, sets some new standard, as though it hadn’t been set already. I know all about the Hatch act; too bad Lurita Doan didn’t, as she used the GSA to interfere in races across the country.

    • michlib says:

      Scooter Libby did not go to jail. Is a new version of the Turner Diaries being drafted ? Scootboy knew he would never spend a day in jail – the pardon was his reward for being a made man. Reminds me of Cheney’s hilarious contention that the Vice President was the sole inhabitant of a heretofore undiscovered ” fourth branch ” of government – having executive, legislative, and magical powers. Don’t come to an arena where the participants actually know the historic record and prevaricate – you’ll get caught.

  3. mikeinportc says:

    “Today, those very same people who once loudly trumpeted the executive branch as completely above the law, and even criticism, are bleating about the “crimes” the Obama administration supposedly committed”…
    I was hoping that that would be the case, however hypocritical ( when has gross hypocrisy ever bothered them,eh ?) ,except, it’s over “… its wooing of Sestak and Romanoff. , rather than the actual crimes. Nope,they like that stuff, and any complaint would implicate Bushco. Astonishingly, (to me!) the GOPers actually do have a limit to their capacity for grand hypocrisy .

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, it was indeed a crime for several days on Fox, particularly for Hannity. I hope you missed it. As I said, the new tack, which left-handedly acknowledges the lack of illegality, is endlessly repeating varitaions of “how’s that transparency thing workin’ out for ya?” The progression was entirely predictable, but months later when talking about the latest trumped-up scandal, all the MSM will hint darkly about the “Sestak Affair” as they chatter mindlessly.
      They’re still in the “travelgate” stage, but the ship has long left the dock when the media stops the presses to read from Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.