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Broder Parrots GOP "Criminalizing Politics" Talking Point on Torture

April 26, 2009

As it turns out, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and David Broder faithfully regurgitating Republican talking points. Given his past fascination with Hillary Clinton's marriage (but not Rudy Giuliani's serial nuptials) and paeans to the trustworthiness of John McCain (but not Barack Obama), it comes as no surprise that Broder Sunday declared calls for the prosecution of potential Bush administration war crimes "an unworthy desire for vengeance." In so doing, Broder became just the latest to parrot the Republicans' "criminalization of politics" defense for their growing rap sheet.
The "criminalizing politics" sham has been a tried if untrue Republican scandal evasion strategy since President George H.W. Bush first unveiled the gambit during the Iran-Contra scandal. Now after faithful service in the Plamegate affair, the conviction of Scooter Libby, the indictment of Tom Delay and the purge of U.S. attorneys, the criminalizing conservatism variant has been deployed to fight off Democratic calls for the investigation of the Bush 43 administration's regime of detainee torture.
Almost on cue, David Broder on Sunday blasted Democrats pressuring President Obama to prosecute possible war crimes as required by U.S. law and American obligations alike.

But now Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more -- the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps -- or, at least, careers and reputations.
Their argument is that without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability -- and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations. It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance...
That way, inevitably, lies endless political warfare. It would set the precedent for turning all future policy disagreements into political or criminal vendettas. That way lies untold bitterness -- and injustice.

If that sounds like Power Line, the Wall Street Journal, William Kristol, Robert Novak, Fred Barnes, or countless Republican politicos and their water carriers in the conservative echo chamber, it should.
No doubt, the prosecution of the Bush torture team would produce political carnage and a dangerous distraction at a time of national economic crisis and two wars. But political inexpediency cannot be an excuse for failing to enforce the law. No one is above the law, as President Obama is fond of saying, and no one more so than himself. American laws and values require action against the perpetrators of potential war crimes. To borrow a time-worn cliché, failure is not an option. At least, not a legal or moral one.
Of course, for the David Broders of the world, accountability for Republican lawbreaking is to be avoided at all costs. Broder, like the GOP talking heads he parrots, is politicizing crime.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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