My Twitter thingie was all aflame as I drank my coffee this morning with yet another “are they screwing with us” thinkpiece from a major newspaper, this time from the paper of “Democracy Dies in Darkness So Here’s Something to Help It Along.” This:
Prosecuting Donald Trump’s former chief of staff could create a precedent that hurts the Justice Department later. https://t.co/ySUNw2FmI6
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 16, 2021
The problem with this kind of article is that it is based, at least part, on “but this will make Republicans do ‘X” when they get in power.” I got news for those people…do you really think that will matter? Republicans demonstrate over and over again that such things do not matter and they will do what they want without much prompting.
Not to mention, why do we want to send a message of no consequences? Because that’s what we have been doing for 50 years. Nixon may have been forced to resign over Watergate, but for crying out loud, one of the scariest humans ever to work for the government, G. Gordon Liddy, less than 10 years later was doing comedy bits with The Valley Girl herself, Frank Zappa’s daughter.
Then Iran-Contra happened, which was arguably worse than Watergate. Don’t believe me? Argue with Peter Kornbluh, who wrote in his excellent review of the scandal in Salon,
There were illegal arms transfers to Iran, flagrant lying to Congress, soliciting third country funding to circumvent the Congressional ban on financing the contra war in Nicaragua, White House bribes to various generals in Honduras, illegal propaganda and psychological operations directed by the CIA against the U.S. press and public, collaboration with drug kingpins such as Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, and violating the checks and balances of the Constitution.
Sounds kinda bad?
But the dogs were called off and the investigation was killed due to people arguing that the country “couldn’t take another major scandal and needed to heal.” One of the figures who was up to his eyeballs in it, Dana Carvey Impersonator George H.W. Bush, was elected president and really shouldn’t have been allowed to, much less die a beloved “Poppy Bush” figure. The G. Gordon Liddy type guy in all of this, Oliver North, has parlayed Iran-Contra fame into millions as a television host and commentator. This was after he got “probation” for his crimes, which may have meant he had to miss a lunch or two every now and then.
This desire for “moving on” and “healing” later enabled those who normalized torture during the 2000s to skate past without any retribution. During the Great Recession, Nice Guy President Barack Obama said a few stern words that got the Wall Street tycoons a little fussy because he hurt their feelie-feels, and that was pretty much that as far as retribution for crashing the economy. Hold Congressional hearings like what happened during The Great Depression to get to the bottom of what happened? Are you nuts? Like some kinda socialist?
Not doing anything is the precedent, and we have seen that the increasing Republican tendency is to step over a line, erase it, and then draw a new line to step over. Why would they do anything differently? If we don’t act on what happened during January 6 at a high level, what would stop Trump or any of them from just ignoring any and all laws? Is it really that hard to imagine a meeting among Republicans to discuss something awful and one person says “won’t we get in serious trouble for this?” and the GOP president says “what are they going to do, impeach me?” as the room breaks out into laughter.
The last word goes to David Bowie, who warned us to be Afraid of Americans and it seems like he had good reasons given what is going on.
2 thoughts on “Letting Them Get Away With It”
The thing I’ll always bring up about Iran/contra is Poppy’s pardon of Cap Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, and four others in the dead of night Christmas Eve 1992. Bush had already lost the 1992 elections, Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was gearing up for the criminal trial of Weinberger and the others, and those lame duck pardons cut the legs out from under that trial.
Yet, when Poppy shuffled off his mortal coil, nobody thought that pardon spree worth mentioning. In his final report, Walsh said he was going to put the lie to Bush’s claim that he was “out of the loop” on Iran/contra. But could the country have handled the scandal? Thankfully the wisdom of our betters spared us the test.
Well, that explains why they keep doing it …
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