The perils of the inquest

April 28, 2009

What to do about torture?  I’m torn.

Yes, we must get to the bottom of it and penalize the culprits to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  We have a moral obligation, and as a practical matter it is needed to regain our standing in the world, and the moral high ground if we are ever to criticize China on Darfur, etc.

But at what cost?

David Brooks thinks Obama is trying to build a 60% majority, and all the recriminating would kill that by turning off many independents.

Lincoln Mitchell is afraid that “Opponents of the president will see these prosecutions as license to prosecute members of President Obama’s administration when they leave office”.

They may be right, but I’m more afraid about losing our focus and giving up healthcare, energy and education reform, just for starters.  Did we forget how the stimulus package was starting to look troubled before Obama’s P.R. blitz?  Part of his success has been in driving the message and cutting through the media chatter to speak directly to people in plain terms.  But what if everyone stops listening?

Case in point:  How many people know a climate bill was being deliberated over the last week?  There was nary a word about it amid the waterboarding and impeach Bybee stories.  Today Waxman delayed further action until next week.

If we do go ahead, it should definitely be a bipartisan independent commission, and I like Andrew’s terms: “Give it two years to report, to allow emotions and tempers to cool. Then and only then make a decision on prosecution, so that there is no scintilla of haste or heat.”

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