06 April 2009

Senate Republicans Take Appointees* Hostage, Demand Ransom

Kevin Drum links to a report that Senate Republicans are holding Obama appointees hostage in exchange for burial of Bush-era torture memos. Drum:

These memos must be real time bombs. So much material has been released already, both officially and otherwise, that I've long assumed we already knew everything the Bush administraton had done — in broad terms, anyway. But apparently not. If these memos just confirmed our use of things like stress positions and black sites, it's hard to imagine they'd prompt such ferocious opposition. There must be some truly new — and truly gruesome — disclosures in them.
Jeebus. Emphasis mine. (With apologies to Kevin for simply stealing his links.)

I'm of two minds about this. Obviously, it's despicable politics. But that' s pretty redundant, right? So it comes down to politics versus ethics. I don't want to see good nominees sacrificed as pawns in an epic chess match. At the same time, I do want to see Obama take a stand on this. This guy, as both a candidate and a president, has proven that he can take his message to the people. And congressional Republicans start from a disadvantage--call it a popularity gap. If Obama were to stand up and say "I promised transparency, and I intend to fulfill that promise to the American people," then I think the Senate Repubs are in a bind.

Of course, Republicans can make the White House absolutely miserable and tie up confirmations that should have been completed ages ago. But then again, they've been doing that since day one, right? I'd link, but there are too many examples. Just search "senate confirmation delays" and see what comes up. Clinton, Holder, Lynn, Hill, Goolsbee, Rouse, Holdren, Duckworth, and I'm missing several. I mean, come on. Republicans in the Senate have made clear that they are not interested in working with this president. They've shown a record, bad-faith willingness to obstruct. Republicans have not been this unpopular in a very long time, if ever, and the GOP strategy seems to be to double down. So why not take them on? This is big, torture memos. This might just be the good fight.

*Correction: An early version of this post mistakenly identified "cabinet-level appointees," when in fact these are simply legal appointees but not members of the president's cabinet.