Thursday, November 20, 2008

David Vitter and Some More GOP Hypocrisy

Louisiana's Republican Senator David Vitter seeks to prevent President-elect Barack Obama from carrying out his executive duties as Commander-in-Chief by trying to prevent Obama from closing down that stain on the honor of the US known as the detention facility at Gitmo. I have to admit that this really burned me up this morning.

On the CBS show "60 Minutes" Sunday, Obama said closing the detention facility, which has generated criticism from human rights groups in the United States and abroad, is "part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world."

But Vitter, who chairs the conservative Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus, said it is not in the best interests of the United States to release detainees "suspected of engaging in terrorist activities."

"This is absolutely a path that we should not tread," Vitter said. "The detainees at Guantanamo are housed there because they represent a terrorist threat to America and, as activist judges continue to usurp our security measures through the judicial processes, we should lay the groundwork now to ensure that these individuals are not allowed to enter the United States."
Activist judges usurping our security measures? WTF! How 'bout pathetic activist legislators who continue to threaten our security by seeking to further ruin our badly damaged (possibly permanently so) human rights reputation throughout the world??? Gimme a friggin' break!

Some questions for Sen. Vitter: Where the hell were you when Bush/Cheney carried out the most brazen executive power grab in American history and made the most dictatorial claims of executive inaccountability to ANY other branch of government in prosecuting the War on Terror? What the hell did you ever do in your role as a "check and balance" against abusive executive authority in preventing the Bush Administration from asserting unchecked powers in wartime as Commander-in-Chief, powers to do whatever he wanted to do with impunity not only with prisoners at Guantanamo but with anyone he simply tagged as an enemy combatant? Including torture, indefinite detention, suspension of habeas corpus, ignoring the Geneva Conventions, etc. It's only now, when the prospect of Obama as President exercising his own rights and powers as Commander-in-Chief over Gitmo prisoner detention policy, that Vitter thinks the Legislature should usurp power that Vitter himself believes CLEARLY belongs to the executive.

Hey, Vitter, you want to play Commander-in-Chief? Then get your balls back from the hookers and run for President yourself. You and your fellow Republican legislators, who fell all over yourselves to defend the Bush administration's detention policies from any kind of legislative scrutiny, have ZERO credibility now. Give your President-elect the damn deference YOU argued is rightfully due the office. You sowed the seeds for this, you friggin' cynical hypocrite. It's your Frankenstein. Learn to love it. Learn to live with it.


Schroeder said...

Hmm -- strident. Yeah. I think you found your alter Huck.

Vitter loves to blame "activist": judges to deflect attention from his own inability to make a sound Constitutional argument.

He should stick to something he knows better: diapers.

Eric said...

I don't think Vitter's bill would have a chance in hell of passing, and Presidetn Obama, as C.I.C., would be free to ignore it anyway... but I would point out, the bill doesn't prevent Obama from releasing Gitmo detainees, it only requires that he first certify that doing so is in our national security interestes, effectively putting himself and the Dems on the hook if one of the released detainees walks into a school full of kids someday and blows himself up. My thinking is that if Obama releases them, he's on the hook anyway if one pops back up and causes trouble or death. I do think it is important that the American people realize he is talking about sending many of these detainees back home immediately, and releasing the rest of them into a civilian court system that was never designed to deal with military detainees.

At any rate, Vitter's bill is a form of obstructionism, and obstructionism is often the only real power held by the minority party in our government. The Dems wielded it like a club for 8 years, and the GOP is going to try to do the same. Republican Congressmen and Senators do still have conservative constituencies at home who expect them to do whatever they can to prevent the enactment of a liberal agenda. They aren't going to curl up in the fetal position just because Obama won. They should keep their rhetoric above-board, always being respectful, and they should work with the Dems in areas where they agree... but the GOP can, should, and will try to short circuit many of Obama's policies (more often than not unsuccesfully). Gitmo is just one of many.

Also, I'd argue that if we really want to do something about real and widespread human rights atrocities in America, the elephant on the table is our draconian drug laws that cause us to imprison more of our population than any other nation on earth. Compared to the millions of lives ruined by these laws, Gitmo is pretty insignificant to me.

Huck said...

All good points, Eric. Especially the one about draconian drug laws. We're probably more in line on this issue than we are apart.

I understand obstructionist politics. Especially for the sake of preserving ideological principles. But there is nothing principled in Vitter's legislative gambit. And it is the unprincipled nature of it that bothers me. It would be one thing if Vitter had expressed any reservations at all about executive privilege and authority when Bush enacted his agenda. But Vitter, like many other Republicans (and even some Democrats, for that matter), rolled over and thus sacrificed any credibility defending legislative checks on executive power, especially when it comes to conducting the War on Terror.

The question of principle is the following: Is it the conservative agenda to backtrack on principles (i.e. deference to executive authority in war/detention policy) simply in order to oppose a Democratic President? (i.e. I support unquestioned and carte-blance executive authority in prosecuting the War on Terror as a matter of principle, or do I only support this "principle" when the President is from my party? If the latter, then there really is no principle to speak of beyond pure partisan cynicism.) In other words, is the conservative agenga one that respects the principles regarding the proper functions of government branches that it puts forward? Or is it simply partisan obstructionism? If it's the latter, and not the former, as I suspect and as you seem to indicate, then it is pure, unmitigated cynicism and hypocrisy. It's government by partisan obstruction simply for the sake of partisan obstruction, and not really for the sake of any principled understanding of the proper roles of the separate branches of government.