Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Three things Andrew Sullivan got right this morning, plus an observation

The three things he got right:

1. If Dick Cheney didn't have ready access to compliant news media, he'd just be sad and pathetic. As it is, he's sad, pathetic--and dangerous:

The former vice president, the man who imported torture into the American constitutional system, failed to capture bin Laden, invaded a country under false pretenses, allowed the Afghanistan campaign to disintegrate, and added $5 trillion to the next generation's debt burden, is attacking a sitting president on a day he announces a critical military strategy in front of his troops.

It is, again, a breathtaking piece of dishonor from this bitter, angry man. To accuse your successor of "weakness" because he has actually conscientiously tried to figure out the right thing to do in a war Cheney and Bush clearly botched is a new low in American politics and the partisan politicization of war and peace.

2. In its aching desire to drive the morning news cycle, The Politico has become--if it was ever anything else--the premiere go-to site for political axe-grinding tarted up as "news:"

[O]ne wonders what the circumstances were in which Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei took a trip to interview Cheney the day before Obama's Afghanistan address. What was the news hook? Did Cheney summon them to transcribe his vile assault? Did they request a newsy interview the day before Obama's speech?

3. Accusations of treason are now flung about with such cynicism and careless disregard for consequences that the charge has been completely debased, which is a lucky thing for those who actually have committed offenses against the Constitution and our laws (emphasis added):

Accusing the president of giving aid and comfort to the enemy is such a disgusting charge, such a deeply divisive, unAmerican tactic, it would be excoriated if it came from some far right blogger. That it comes from a former vice-president, violating every conceivable protocol (as he did in office), reminds me of why Cheney and Cheneyism remain such a threat to core American and Western values.

If you truly use a position of such authority to show contempt for the sitting president, to accuse him of treason, to attack him on the day he addresses the nation in a critical address, to divide him from the troops, to use sacred issues of war and peace which a president is solemnly engaging as a political weapon or as a vain and self-serving attempt to make your own record look better, then you have no core respect for the institutions and traditions and civility that make a constitutional democracy possible.

Look also at the focus of his attack: the civil trial of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. All Cheney can see is the opportunity for such a figure to grandstand, as if KSM's rantings will have any effect but to demystify him. What Cheney cannot see - because he has no deep appreciation of it - is the beauty of treating a monster like KSM to the stringent calm of Western justice. And what Cheney fears - for he is no fool - is that the trial will also reveal Cheney's torture regime, how it distorted intelligence, prevented bringing suspects to justice and tarred the US for ever as a country that now does what its enemies used to do: abuse, torture and mistreat prisoners in wartime.

And the observation:

Sullivan wasn't always so fastidious about the way in which allegations of treason got raised:

The middle part of the country -- the great red zone that voted for Bush -- is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -- and may well mount a fifth column.

That was Sullivan seven days after the 9/11 attacks. Sarah Palin might as well have cribbed her 2008 campaign speeches from it.

Everyone who was right about Bush's War is still waiting for an apology and a retraction on that one, by the way. And non-denial denials, just to be clear, don't count.

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