The Legacy

by digby

Loosheadprop over at FDL highlights this comment from Paul Kane yesterday in the Wapo, that made me want to hold my head in my hands and moan:

Very interestingly, Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein told myself and Jonathan Weisman in separate interviews Monday that if Bush picks a consensus AG, that the spirit and drive of the Dem investigations into the US attorney firings would likely dissipate.
So, the Dems are throwing in the towel on the US Attorney scandal for nothing in return but the thrilling fact that Fred Fielding and the White House finally listened to them. (They like us they really like us!)

What this means is that the new AG will be some standard GOP clone who will promise never to lie and never to do all those bad things that Gonzales did. I'm sure the Democrats will be very stern about that. They might even demand that this new AG conduct an investigation and report back by a date certain on what he finds, by golly! Heck, they may even ask him nicely not spy on anyone without a warrant unless he really, really has to and promise to only deny habeas corpus to people who really don't deserve it.

I assume that the Dems have decided that there's nothing to be gained politically by pursuing these issues any further so they don't want to bother. And they are right to the extent that the Republicans will howl like she-wolves if a new Democratic administration tries to fire the GOP whores they've installed throughout the department and now that Gonzo is out they've lost their villain of the piece. Plus the Judiciary Committee would love to strut before the cameras bragging about how they approved the new AG. As if that means diddly.

It's only 18 months until a new administration comes in and they figure they'll deal with all these issues when a Democrat gets in the white house. Or not. There's always the possibility that at least some of them believe these extra-constitutional powers really are a good thing and should be preserved to protect us from the boogeyman. (It should go without saying, however, that Republicans would never let Democrats get away with using these powers. They'd fight it just for the pleasure of it.)

Sadly, the Bush administration and the modern Republican movement have exposed a great gaping hole in our system, one which has previously been held together with respect for tradition, consensus on what was acceptable and a healthy belief in what goes around comes around. What we have learned is that an aggressive and power-mad president who has 34 Senators who can be counted upon to stick with him no matter what, can pretty much do anything he wants. If he has a supine, self-serving press that refuses to do its job, so much the better. But that's really all it takes for a president to become a dictator, at least temporarily -- the will to do it and 34 men and women willing to stand behind him.

This is why the Democrats in congress should pursue these scandals even if they are unable to remove the president from office and he is leaving in less than two years. By allowing these precedents to stand, these executive powers to go unchallenged, they will be waiting for the next would-be tyrant to pick them up and run with them. The constitutional system depends upon the truism that if all else fails and crooks and miscreants are the only ones holding office, that they will at least have enough ego to preserve their own power. If they fail to do even that, the system could be irretrievably broken.

Cheney famously said "Reagan proved deficits don't matter." He will very likely be likewise telling his little friends at cocktail parties a couple of years from now, "Bush proved congress doesn't matter."