CW Jello

by digby

Yglesias makes an intriguing argument today that pushing this Pelosi business makes it impossible for the Republicans to avoid the investigations they so clearly want to avoid.

Various conservative commentators have expressed their hope that gunning for Pelosi will blunt progressive calls for a "truth commission" to thoroughly investigate what really happened on Bush's trip to the "dark side". Fox's Neil Cavuto said we might be in a "Mexican standoff" wherein Pelosi would agree to drop the idea of investigations to prevent herself from attracting scrutiny. Steven Hayes, Dick Cheney's official biographer, said, "Democrats who have been so enthusiastic about truth commissions have to be stopping and saying, OK, wait a second." What conservatives are missing here is that this is a fight they were winning before they started gunning for Pelosi. Their best ally in this fight was Barack Obama, whose desire to "move forward" rather than focusing on the past had been the subject of much consternation. Had conservatives simply reached out to grab the hand that was being extended to them, they could have gotten what they wanted.

But in their zeal to score a tactical win, the right has made a truth commission more likely not less likely. Obama wanted to avoid a backward-looking focus on torture in part because it distracted from his legislative agenda. But if we're going to be looking backward anyway, thanks to conservatives' insistence on complaining about Pelosi, then the move forward strategy lacks a rationale. And far from forcing a standoff in which Pelosi will abandon her support for an investigation, the right has forced her into a corner from which she can't give in to moderate Democrats' opposition to such a move without looking like she's cravenly attempting to save her own skin.

I hadn't thought of it that way, and it's very interesting, particularly the part about Pelosi now looking like she's cravenly saving her own skin if she backs on the investigation which the Republicans insist will show her to be culpable. I don't know if it would play out that way, but with the right messaging, it certainly could. If Pelosi has the guts to stand up to this, she could say she wants a commission to "clear her name."

The Villagers are having none of it, however. Yglesias appeared on Norah O'Donnell earlier and spelled it all out, only to be greeted with Newt's inane comments calling for Pelosi to resign. And then O'Donnell made this final dismissive comment:

I just don't think there's going to be an investigation, Matthew. I know that there's not going to be an investigation. The Bush admin... I mean, the Obama administration is the one who would have to sign off on a commission and they show no willingness to do that. The other person that could make it happen is the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi who could set up one of her committees, and there's no indication that that's going to happen either.

So that's that. Nobody wants an investiagation so why are we even talking about all this icky stuff?

The vilage consensus is that investigations are off the table because the Democrats don't want them. Obama doesn't want them because it interferes with his agenda and congressional Democrats don't want them because they are frightened to death that the Republicans will gain the upper hand on national security. Here's Chris Cillizza today:

Even as the debate over the treatment of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration continues to roil political Washington, a new poll conducted for Resurgent Republic suggests that the American people -- including politically critical independent voters -- by and large support the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on suspected al-Qaeda operatives.

Asked whether such tactics were justified, 53 percent of the overall sample said they were and 34 percent said they were not. While Democrats strongly opposed the use of these controversial methods and Republicans strongly supported them, independent voters were slightly more divided than partisans of each side, with 51 percent expressing support for the tactics and 31 percent opposing them.

On the question of whether such techniques have yielded information that has made the country safer, 52 percent of all respondents said they had while 39 percent said they had not. Independents' views on the issue mirrored the overall sample, with 51 percent saying the tactics had made the country safer and 39 percent saying they had not.

"In driving this debate, the political left is driving a sharp divide between Democrats on the one hand and Republicans and Independents on the other," Resurgent Republic co-founders Ed Gillespie and Whit Ayres concluded in a memo detailing the poll's findings. The group is made up of Republican strategists.

He does point out that these national security issues accrued to Republicans' benefit earlier in the decade but that Iraq eroded peoples' confidence in them on the issue. I'm not sure that Democrats have ever fully absorbed that last fact, because it does seem that they are running scared on this because of the polling. This poll, of course, is self-serving, but other polls have shown independents giving at least a slight majority in favor of torture, which has Democrats in a panic. But then they have been scared to death of the conesrvatives on national security going all the way back to Truman and "who lost China" through Johnson and Vietnam to Clinton and DADT to Iraq and now --- torture. It's a political pathology that's so ingrained they can't even take a stand against torture for fear the Republicans will make the American people believe they're wimps.

But ... let's remember that village CW can change if there's enough public pressure. After all, these same people told us that Democrats could never win another election and that Dick Cheney was a wise and wonderful "grown-up" whom we could trust. If you look back at Watergate, it never would have been pursued either without the dogged investigation by a couple of nobodies and some liberal cranks in the congress. (You'd better believe that the Nixon White House didn't want to "sign off" of any investigations and the Democrats of that time were even more conservative than they are now. )

It can happen, but it won't happen if we accept this CW. So, here's hoping the blogosphere and good reporters out there will not give in to either the Villagers or the White House on this one. Make them do it.

Update: Here's the youtube of O'Donnell and Yglesias

h/t to JT