Thursday, May 21, 2009

Democrats Offer Weak Support to Dawn Johnsen, Stronger Support to Grotesque Men Like Spector, Hayden, Mukasey and Gonzales

Greenwald again:
One of the best things Barack Obama has done since being elected President was selecting Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel -- the office of Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Stephen Bradbury, torture memos, and theories of presidential omnipotence. Johnsen expressed outrage over the extremism and lawlessness of the Bush administration not (like most political and media elites) in the last few weeks when doing so was easy and irrelevant, but did so loudly and continuously while those crimes were actually taking place. Her arguments were grounded in one simple belief: that the duty of the OLC is to tell the President when his desired policies are unconstitutional or otherwise illegal. But as a vivid reflection of how perverse Washington culture is, those attributes -- outrage over high-level government extremism and criminality, and a belief in the rule of law -- are apparently disqualifying....

It's unclear what the White House or the Democratic leadership have done, if anything, to support Johnsen's nomination (Christy Hardin Smith suggests that the answer is "nothing"), but what's not unclear is that they have lent their absolute, unconditional support for Arlen Specter's re-election in a blue-state Senate seat that could easily be filled by someone infinitely better than Specter. It's rather irrational to repeatedly complain about one's inability to "get 60 votes" when one simultaneously does everything possible to ensure the continuous re-election of the alleged obstructionists. It's almost enough to make one believe that the inability to "get 60 votes" to support their claimed agenda is a desired, rather than lamentable, state of affairs.

The Senate that is refusing to confirm Dawn Johnsen is the same Senate that confirmed Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA Director -- with overwhelming Democratic support -- even after it was revealed that he oversaw Bush's illegal NSA spying program. It's the same Senate that confirmed Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General -- with substantial Democratic support -- even once everyone knew that he had played a key role in Bush's torture program. It's the same Senate that -- thanks to Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer -- confirmed Michael Mukasey as Attorney General even after he refused to say whether waterboarding was torture and endorsed some of the most extremist presidential powers ever asserted in the U.S.


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