Thursday, November 11, 2004

Gonzo For Gonzo

I suppose I'm inclined to agree with Matthew Yglesias here concerning whether or not the Democrats should attempt to block Alberto "Geneva Is Irrelevant" Gonzales from becoming Attorney General. Even if they were somehow able to pull it off, the Dems would pay a big price and Bush's next nomination would be likely just as bad if not worse. The best thing to do is get it on record that Gonzales did indeed write the memo undermining Geneva, which some experts believe led to the Abu Ghraib debacle.

Blocking him from becoming Attorney-General, even if possible, would do almost no good. And there would be a political price to be paid. The thing for Democrats to do is to raise all the objections to him (practically speaking, Senator Salazar probably ought to take the lead here), note how unfortunate it is that the president has so little respect for the rule of law or for the safety of our troops, vote "no," and let him get confirmed.

Democrats need to closely horde their (very limited) capacity to actually prevent things from happening. Like a parliamentary minority, their main role is simply to raise objections and frame an alternative vision. They're not partners in the running of the government, not legislators in the traditional American sense. They're an opposition, that needs to be clear about what it stands for, clear about what it thinks needs to be done, and basically willing to let the party of government govern until they get a chance to contest the government's visions with their own on an election day.

But, just when you think you've got it all figured out, Mr. Oliver Willis.

I think that Matt Yglesias is suffering from what I call the DC-based approach to things. He opposes obstructing the Attorney General nomination of Alberto Gonzales because it may not work out great for Democrats politically.


How about the Dems oppose Gonzales because he WROTE A LEGAL OPINION RATIONALIZING TORTURE? I believe in being as politically calculated as the next guy, but I still hold on to this throwback notion that our politicians should do all they can to PROTECT AMERICA. Somehow, an attorney general that uses the Bible as his law book and one that considers the Geneva convention "quaint" don't strike me as PROTECTING AMERICA.