The Republican Responsibility For The Attempted Putsch

Tim Rutten, in an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, describes the efforts at politicalization of the Justice Department, along with other parts of government, as The putsch that imperiled America. He describes the problem:

Under then-Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, a thirtysomething lawyer named Monica M. Goodling — a graduate of a law school founded by Pat Robertson — had virtual veto power over the appointment of U.S. attorneys, other prosecutors and immigration judges. Goodling, as the Washington Post reported, demanded that candidates “espouse conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices,” especially on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. The goal, according to the report, was to create a Republican “farm system” inside the Justice Department.

While Goodling was pursuing that mission, something not dissimilar was going on at the White House. According to an article by New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer in the latest New York Review of Books, “President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and a small handful of trusted advisors sought and obtained dubious legal opinions [on national security] enabling them to circumvent American laws and traditions.” She details how they used these legal opinions to dramatically expand executive power.

Rutten argues that this these actions were “essentially ideological rather than partisan.” He acknowledges that these unethical actions were committed by Republicans but also points out that “many Republicans working inside the administration — some of them deeply conservative — gave up their jobs rather than go along with the putsch.” He concludes:

At some point, the American people will demand a precise accounting of how and why their government and its officials behaved in this reckless, appalling fashion. That will require following the chain of command into the White House. When it happens, you can bet that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington et al will demand every protection of the law and insist on every comma of the due process they’ve derided as mere inconvenience.

When there is such an accounting, the Republicans will still have a lot to explain. There may have been some good Republicans, but those who supported the crimes of the Bush administration still dominate the party. Congressional Republicans, rather than exercising the Constitutional duty to provide oversight of the Executive Branch, allowed Bush to do whatever he wanted while they were committing comparable offenses with the K Street Project. Despite having a president who was unfit to lead, there were no good Republican who were capable of mounting a challenge to renominating Bush in 2004.

While the Congressional Republicans have plenty to answer for, it was Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi who decided that impeachment should be taken off the table. Still, while the Democrats are far from pure, it was Republicans and not Democrats who were responsible for the actual offenses. When faced with a front runner who was every bit as unethical and dishonest as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, et al, Democrats did ultimately stand up and prevent the nomination of Hillary Clinton. To be fair, many Republicans might have thought they were ending the extremism and dishonesty of the Bush years in nomination John McCain, but it didn’t take long for McCain to adopt dishonest Rove/Clinton style tactics. We cannot trust that someone who resorts to this degree of dishonesty in campaigning will not do the same to preserve power if elected.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Jerry says:

    There may have been good Republicans, but they left because they couldn’t stomach what was going on. THAT DIDN’T HELP!  Good men doing nothing and all of that…  They could have, should have (and I would have) stood up and shouted at the top of their collective lungs. OK, that conjures up a strange image of a pile of lungs, but nevertheless…

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