Friday, May 15, 2009

Being realistic, cold and clear-eyed

Steve Benen points to a comment on Andrew Sullivan’s site which does a good job of spelling out my take on the whole torture prosecutions debate:

Imagine what such prosecutions would entail: years of courtroom drama, depositions, lawsuits and counter-suits; the long parade of powerful and high ranking ex- and current members of government, including a goodly number of Democrats, being called on the carpet and having to testify against one another; the enormous rancor and bitterness. This would be Watergate on steroids. And imagine the shot in the arm this would give the zombified Limbaugh Right.
The prosecutions you are asking for would simply swallow the Obama presidency whole. It is the kind of energy draining, oxygen consuming drama that is the nightmare of every president. It would come to define his presidency in the same way the Hostage Crisis defined Carter’s and there is zero chance he will opt for this.
President Obama is making a realistic, cold, clear-eyed cost-benefit analysis. This is the choice: Does he fix the economy, fix healthcare, get a handle on the two wars he’s dealing with, or does he prosecute Bush era war crimes? He has chosen his agenda and is asking us to choose that to.

I agree. Obama can’t allow his agenda to be sidetracked by the inevitable media circus that would result from launching such prosecutorial pursuits. I don’t care if Congress conducts its own investigations - which they are already doing - but Obama needs to keep his focus on the problems at hand. There will be plenty of time later to deal with this. Heck, we’re still deporting Nazis from WWII!
But the last thing I want is for Obama’s efforts to fix the economy to be impeded and have him not be able to accomplish the things he needs to do during his first term. The worst thing that could happen is to have Obama get bogged down in something like this, accomplish nothing and then we end up with a Republican Congress and President Mitt Romney in four years.

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