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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the Tank...

Upgraded and adapted from a response to a comment in the Moot:

I'm not the least bit less aware of injustices in this white racist patriarchal corporate-militarist society than you are, nor of their corrupting impact on our governing institutions, although it is unclear to me if your cynicism is really so stark that you are forced into advocating armed revolution or if, ultimately, you must trust the same processes I'm admitting I trust, but you just want to pretend to be more hard-core and unrelenting about it because that's the trip you're on.

I'm not the least bit less eager for prosecutions of warcrimes than you are, I'm just not indulging in the "progressive" fantasy that in a better world such prosecutions would be unilaterally and instantly implemented by an enlightened despot who happens to agree with you, or with me for that matter.

4 comments:

Eric said...

Remember when we all hated the Unitary Executive theory (and practice)?

Remember how we all protested when neocons claimed it was okay for them to do undemocratic things because America (read: them) is the good guy?

I'm curious as to what the nay-sayers think the reasoning was behind the WH releasing the torture memos that have given the biggest boost yet to the chances of prosecution if it was not to encourage prosecution?

Dale Carrico said...

Yes, the level of left-blogospheric paranoia about Obama's presumed stealth warcriminal-love and corporatist-love, and the demand that he endlessly reassure them by eschewing legitimate process and behaving like some kind of "enlightened despot" is truly bizarre.

Those who think Obama has to be strong-armed into doing the most sensible sorts of things (things he has explicitly advocated and things he has actively facilitated through admittedly damaged slow-moving legitimate processes) seem to believe him to be driven by impulses so sinister that you have to dredge the muck of right-wing teabaggers to find comparably dark and crazy fantasies.

thanatz p. said...

What prompted the blogosphere outrage that Dale sees as violating some precept of political fidelity - and in turn my post - was the message the WH was pushing hard via Gibbs and Emanuel Thurs-Sun that there would simply be no prosecutions. Not that the decision to prosecute would be made after the proper inquiries, but that there would be NO prosecutions. Dale and I disagree that the subsequent, and laudable, walkback directly from Obama had something to do with said outrage. I do admit to possessing the delusional belief that the President's actions are, to some extent, a reflection of what the public lets him get away with - at least for the first term.

Indeed that I think he needs be strong-armed into doing things he advocated on the campaign trail is not due to juvenile assumptions about supposed evil intentions or sinister motives, but rather the recognition that he must deal with extremely powerful institutional structures that remain fundamentally unchanged from their state in the Bush-Clinton era and which themselves are capable of pushing back. In confrontation with these structures, Obama must operate with the knowledge that he is not wasting his political capital needlessly, and, more importantly, that he faces consequences for doing otherwise.

This is not Nuremberg. An electoral victory is not a military victory; the country needs to show Obama that it wants this. When Obama's proxies explicitly reject the rule of law people should get angry. Remember how we all protested when the previous administration did that, Eric?

Dale Carrico said...

What prompted the blogosphere outrage ... was the message the WH was pushing hard via Gibbs and Emanuel Thurs-Sun that there would simply be no prosecutions.That "hard push" was an immoderate exaggeration contradicted (or, to be generous, complicated) by other actually available facts. The title of the post that prompted your initial comment, was "I guess I see these things differently" because it seemed to me I was literally seeing different things than the outraged were seeing.

Comments by Gibbs and Emanuel seemed to me to be genial conciliatory noises made by people whose role wasn't to make the decisions of an independent AG as to prosecutions in the first place, while Obama's release of the memos seemed to me a facilitation of the process of prosecution that his stance on lawfulness on the campaign trail followed by his reversal of lawlessness upon entering office coupled with his awareness of upcoming Congressional commissions and reports all seemed orchestrated to accomplish. It just seemed to me Obama was being more intelligent in the way he was proceeding than others who wanted the same outcome were demanding he be, all because they were less patient and less pragmatic (and rather paranoid) to no good purpose.

Indeed that I think he needs be strong-armed into doing things he advocated on the campaign trail is not due to juvenile assumptions about supposed evil intentions or sinister motives, but rather the recognition that he must deal with extremely powerful institutional structures that remain fundamentally unchanged from their state in the Bush-Clinton era and which themselves are capable of pushing back.Yeah, that's why he's leaning on slow-moving multi-lateral processes that cause blogospheric impatience, and making conciliatory noises that provoke blogospheric outrage. You italicize declarations of principle made "on the campaign trail" as if to suggest Obama has compromised the dedication to lawfulness that won him the election (among so many other things) somehow even though he literally reversed the lawlessmess immediately, tried to re-invigorate the proper separation of the branches of government and de-politicize Justice and so facilitate the proper processes through which lawfulness must properly be re-established, released the memos that have pushed the process forward at exactly the moment when a host of other reports are emerging in the media to consolidate support for what might be unprecedented prosecutions, made conciliatory noises to nervous institutions fearing scapegoating in the face of such turmoil.

You seem to see these institutional dynamics as reasons to presume Obama a hypocrite and failing to observe facts that look to me to contradict that presumption in Obama's actual conduct. The very moves that prompted outrage were more properly understood as signs that Obama is sensitive to the institutional complexities you claim to grasp as in play here. I'm glad you say you don't impute sinister motives to Obama, though. Some commentators of whom I would have expected better have done just that through this episode, and not at all only those mouthbreathing jackholes of the right.

the country needs to show Obama that it wants this.

Well, I certainly agree with this. And of course I also agree with you that all the outrage was responsible for the form the recent walkback has taken, but I disagree that those who desire prosecutions of lawlessness should have needed this reassurance given the actual facts, nor do I see that the process of prosecution itself has been advanced by the freakout that prompted the walkback. The Right is too disorganized to take advantage of what could have been a squandering of political capital and a loss of control of messaging, but that's just luck. We can't count on that luck forever, we should be more intelligent.

We should be signing petitions for impeachments (links to such have appeared on this blog, for example) and disbarments and organizing rallies to express outrage at perpetrators (and not against the President!) and to push back against Bush loyalists who try to spin respect for law as partisanship and media outlets that push this sort of line, while showing support for the Administration and congresscritters who take the risk of supporting prosecutions themselves.

Endlessly and impatiently scouting for signs of betrayal and hypocrisy while at that very moment the Administration facilitates delicate damaged accountable information-gathering and consensus-gathering and alliance-building and message/momentum-building processes eventuating in prosecutions in the face of complex oppositional forces is possibly not really so productive as you seem to think it is?

When Obama's proxies explicitly reject the rule of law people should get angry.That never happened. You made a mistake. I'm not going to ask you to admit it, let's just move on. Your heart's clearly in the right place, and if Nixon Reagan Bush Gingrich W. has made you skittish that is understandable.

As I said before I was especially upset at those who saw signs of palpable betrayal in Obama even as he intelligently facilitated processes through which the very outcomes they desired would properly be accomplished -- this seemed to me to amount to outrage against doing things intelligently -- and upset at those who used this immoderate overreaction as rationale for rhetoric claiming a Bush-Obama equivalence that is, frankly, outrageous and flabbergastingly wrongheaded.

Surely such an equivalence is not lurking behind the rhetorical question to Eric with which you close your comment? If so, that's another mistake. These mistakes may be undermining you ability to register some actually relevant observable facts of the matter.