Monday, January 16, 2006

Al Gore?

I thought he left us a while back. Anyway, he made a speech today which he derides Bush and the NSA program as an example "that America's Constitution is in grave danger" Essentially what we have is another Democrat delivering a doom and gloom alarmism speech. While I have no problem with Democrats holding the President accountable on issues like this to keep everything balanced I have yet to see one iota of evidence that some of the wartime powers the President has assumed have created blanket infringements on civil liberties and privacy. Also when you consider the numerous actions taken by Roosevelt, Wilson, and Lincoln during other periods of war which were far more invasisve than any thing Bush has done, the debate takes a rather disingenious ring. In fact Roosevelt was in his fourth term as President and assume unilateral control over many aspects of the American economy and even imprisoned Japanese Americans as threats to the Republic. In my mind he came much closer to a dictatorship than Bush is at this time.

Another aspect of Gore's speech was the referencing of actual illegal wiretapping of Martin Luther King and others during the Edgar J Hoover days of the FBI. This is purely for dramatic effect to incite the Left and also make the connection that Bush is doing the same thing now as was done then: spying on Americans for political gain. There is no evidence that is the case and Gore is irresponsible to imply it. Gore also quotes a Yale Law Dean Harold Koh who basically says that if the President thinks he has the power to torture then he also has the power to commit things like genocide, slavery, apartheid, and summary executions. Interesting quote especially in light of it being MLK day he raises the prospect of slavery and apartheid as though these are two issues presently being struggled with in the United States. This is again another effort to incite people on the Left and imply that Bush has an evil agenda.

Throughout the speech Gore couches everything by acknowledging the threat of terrorism and calling for a greater role for Congress in fighting the war. However the overall tone of the speech is one of sheer panic with lots of buzzwords and warnings that the the Constitution is in danger of being use as toilet paper in the Bush White House. By the end of the speech Gore suggests that hearings should be called and whistleblower protected, which as I noted in my last piece, is an interesting position: It is OK for whistleblowers(who are likely to be career workers and elected by exactly zero people to serve) to break the law for what they pereive is the good of the country but the President who has the endorsement of 60 millions Americans and was duly elected to the office should be impeached even though he was doing what he thought was best for the country in his role as Commander-in-Chief. I am still not clear how that works so perhaps he will explain it at some point.

On a side note I found two lines by Gore to be absolute screamers in light of the Clinton Impeachment:

"A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government"

If that is the case, then why on earth did Gore not support convicting Clinton for lying to the grand jury over the Monica Lewinsky affair? Oh wait, never mind.

"Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads."

Is that how that works? It seems to me when Ken Starr and the Republicans did this it was derided as a "vast right-wing conspiracy", the politics of personal destruction, and partisan wrangling at its worst. There must be different rules I am not aware of then.

The bottom line for me is that the President should be able to wage an effective war on terrorist and protect the country. He should be able to work with Congress and get the laws adjusted to attack the new threat. In the absence of that, he still has a responsibility to defend the country and had he not done so and an attack occurred no one can reasonably believe that "I was following the law" would be a valid defense. I can only imagine the kind of loopholes the opposition party could find if the situation were reversed as a result of an attack. And the suggestion of hearings only serves the purpose of attacking the party in power. If anything such hearings should be conducted to explore what ways the laws can be modified to help the war effort and address the concerns people have about Presidential power not as a means of taking down the leadership in a political game of chicken.

We are at war here and the less political baiting we do at each other and the more we work together to put all the best weapons in play to defeat this enemy, the safer we all will be. And it should not matter which party is occupying what seats of power for that to happen.

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