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November 05, 2007

What's up, Chuck?

Sen. Chuck Schumer, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Pheonix Woman has a theory about why Schumer and Feinstein rolled over on Mukasey and torture.


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There's a far simpler explanation. They hope to be in power someday, so they won't do anything more than give lip service to rolling back the powers of the presidency.


Except, Feinstein will never be President. And heck, Schumer would probably be giving up a lot to run.

I think Schumer is way into the defensive crouch on foreign policy and civil liberties issues. If you read the relevant bits of this talk he gave to The American Prospect, it's clear he's very worried about the party being tarred as soft on terrorism. Watching Spitzer get his lunch handed to him over the license thing didn't help.

Great title, Lindsay. There is more, in my opinion, to Feinstein and Schumer than mere "auditing." But I will save my theory for another day. Hint: Noam Chomsky might agree with my opinion.

Can we stop pretending these people are motivated by any incredible deviousness, some sort of master plan, blackmail or anything like that?

This is entirely consistent with how Feinstein typically behaves. She was a big supporter of the FISA "fixes" as well. Feinstein supports Mukasey because that's the kind of person she is. Full stop. The fact that she is a Democrat doesn't make her an angel.

Feinstein will support telecom immunity, she'll support government e-mail reading without warrants. That's who she is and it's entirely predictable.

"Schumer -- a Democratic stalwart who had recommended Mukasey to the White House as a consensus candidate."

I don't know how Schumer originally got the idea in his head that Mukasey is better than other people Bush could have nominated.

But it's not surprising that Schumer wants to vote for someone he suggested in the first place, to look consistent.

In some ways, I don't see Mukasey's confirmation as so bad. While a case can be made for letting the AG's office go with a temporary appointment for 15 months, I would not be surprised if Mukasey finds a way to uncover and air-out the corruption and crony-packing in that office, perhaps in part by leaving an extremely detailed memorandum to his Democratic appointee successor after his year in office.

In the interim, we still have criminals to prosecute; the issue of torture, while morally compelling, is not likely to be swayed by who serves as Attorney General; the torturers are not sitting there with law books in their laps, just as they were not at Abu Ghraib. There is legitimate business for the Department of Justice to get done and the sooner that a non-hack takes the top position, the better. Mukasey's reputation for integrity and ethics are said to be impeccable.

Unlike Bush, Mukasey is a grown adult and appears to be of sufficient maturity that if the President of the United States told him to do something that he (Mukasey) thought was corrupt or illegal, he could tell this President to go to Hell and go back into the grandchildren and golf business. I won't claim to have looked into his "soul" but he appears to be a man who will not let a spoiled brat of a President ruin his own sense of integrity; Mukasey doesn't need the paycheck at the price of his inability to look in his own mirror, unlike Gonzales who is one of the weakest, most fawning and servile hacks ever to serve in the Cabinet. Maybe I am wrong.

What Bush won't do is hire Erwin Cherminsky or the head of the National Lawyers Guild to do the job. Neither would a President Kucinich.

I never underestimate the corrosive effects of ego, but if torture was the issue that stiffened the other Democrats' spines, then I'd guess that Schumer has a torture-related conflict of interest that he can't (or won't) resolve. Would Schumer have been in the loop if, say, a government agency contracted a New York aviation concern to operate rendition flights?

"Mukasey's reputation for integrity and ethics are said to be impeccable."

Why believe his reputation (you have no idea how deserved it is) when you can look at his behavior instead?

The man believes that torture is not torture and is also opposed to Habeas Corpus.

When people have a reputation for integrity and ethics in Washington that reputation is typically meaningless. What does it mean that people with no integrity and ethics claim you have some?

Remember that Scooter Libby also supposedly had a reputation for integrity, and virtually every "straight shooter" the media has produced as a total phony.

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