Sunday, January 31, 2010

Honor and Change

In the dark days of yore, not only Bush and Cheney themselves, but members of the cabinet and assorted flacks reporting to them were shielded from accountability for authorizing torture (among other things). Then, in November 2008, Barack Obama was elected president, his party won huge majorities in Congress, and change had arrived -- or rather, the word change had arrived:

[A]n upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the “torture” memos ... Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
Thud. Even the weak, craven half-measures undertaken to locate some accountability for these monsters, Bybee and Yoo (and no one above them in rank), have proven too bold. A light sanction has given way to a token chide.

I ask that the president and the members of his party do one and only one of the following: (1) use whatever means are available to deliver change on the bigger questions of public policy -- re-embracing the laws of war being among the biggest of the big; or (2) resign from whatever offices you currently hold, without delay; or (3) kill yourselves in whatever manner strike you as expedient, after the grandest ideals, even if not always the practice, of the Greeks and Romans.

I would strongly prefer (1), and I would certainly like to see (2) over (3), but I no longer want to see option (4), which has become the modus operandi of this White House and this Congress, which is lurch forever backward -- sometimes by large leaps, sometimes by small steps -- to insult the intelligence of all the people who bothered to vote them to power.

Stop it. Stop it now. You have long since run out of space for disgracing yourselves; now you're just insulting former supporters and presiding over the degradation of the country, occupying space that might be occupied by people with the courage and honor to bring necessary change. Stop it. Stop it now. Enough is enough.

So, to review: reverse the most ruinous policies of the Bush-Cheney years, resign, or kill yourselves. Pick one.

Update: I have added further thoughts on the above.

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