Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Oh, NOW you want to cry about it

From the Weekly Standard:

"Why are conservative Republicans, who control the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time in living memory, so vulnerable to the phenomenon of criminalization? Is it simple payback for the impeachment of Bill Clinton? Or is it a reflection of some deep malady at the heart of American politics? If criminalization is seen to loom ahead for every conservative who begins successfully to act out his or her beliefs in government or politics, is the project of conservative reform sustainable?
"We don't pretend to have all the answers, or a solid answer even to one of these questions. But it's a reasonable bet that the fall of 2005 will be remembered as a time when it became clear that a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives. And it is clear that thinking through a response to this challenge is a task conservatives can no longer postpone." (boldface mine)

Oh, this one is rich, rich indeed. Let's review. Republicans pushed on Whitewater, forcing the appointment of an independent counsel, who found zippity-do-dah to implicate the Clintons. Ken Starr testified under oath that he found no proof the Clintons were involved. Republicans pushed at the Supreme Court to declare that a president can be sued and forced to testify in said civil suit. The Court ruled 9-0. Republicans opened a half-dozen congressional investigations to go over the travel office firings, to go over the FBI files problem, to go over Vince Foster's obvious suicide. Conservative editorial pages accused the Clintons of murdering Foster, two teenage boys in Arkansas and massive cocaine parties in Little Rock. What came of this? NOTHING.

Finally, a blow job in the Oval Office, incredibly distasteful, disgusting and classless as it was (especially while getting one of those while on the phone with a congressman), is not a crime. Did Clinton lie under oath? Common sense says yes, but legally, the convoluted definition of sex that Jones' lawyers used gave Clinton wiggle room in a purely legalistic sense. Despite that, it was investigated with zeal, and none other than Tom DeLay pressed the case to the max, with help from his now-disgraced aide Mike Scanlon, who's part of the Abramoff scandal. DeLay said it was imperative that no president or elected official be above the law. Henry Hyde said it. Bob Livingston, in what was a courageous move, resigned because he had strayed like Clinton. All of these Republicans claimed it was all about law, and impeached the president for this, even though a lie about sex in a civil suit over sex 10 years prior hardly fits the "high crimes and misdemeanors" part of the Constitution.

So, fast forward to today, where Tom DeLay is under indictment for money laundering and conspiracy, where Bill Frist is being investigated for insider trading by the SEC, where the White House purchasing director was arrested and indicted, and where Karl Rove and Scooter Libby pretty clearly conspired to and outed an undercover CIA agent, an incident that former CIA director and former President George H.W. Bush said was "treason." The special prosecutor in the Plame case, Patrick Fitzgerald, is now looking at the Vice President himself in this. All of these things mentioned above are crimes.

So, now people like DeLay and Bill Kristol, the Standard's editor, cry foul about the criminalization of politics. They say it's because they're conservatives. What do they say about Clinton, then, and their relentless pursuit of the most masterful politician of our time? What do they say about all the investigations into things that took place years before his presidency? The crimes being investigated against these Republicans are taking place for things they did while in office, things that are against the law. It is against the law to disclose the identity of an undercover agent. It is against the law to launder money for any purpose. It is against the law to sell stock when you know a bad earnings report is coming that will adversely affect that stock's price. It is against the law to conspire to commit crimes.

This isn't payback for Bill Clinton (but it is fun to watch them squirm under the same microscope they created.) The argument Kristol puts forth basically says, "It's okay if you're a Republican." Those who are without sin may cast the first stone. Those who chose to cast stones in the 1990's were not without sin and are now getting karma payback, and paybacks are a bitch. I'm not saying I'm without sin, either, but I don't break the law, and when you break the law, you will get caught, prosecuted, and convicted. They have no room to complain. They created this monster, this "criminalization" when they decided to go after Clinton, and the only thing they got him on was lying about sex. They pressed it to the limit and lost. This time, the crimes are worse than sex, and those in trouble don't have the fallback of their peers judging them in Congress.


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