Friday, March 07, 2008

A Delegate Balance

The events of the past week got me thinking about a comment to my piece, "Why were they fired," which appeared on The Huffington Post earlier this week. The comment agreed that "all the President's men" should be held accountable for their infractions, and subversions, against the Constitution, and democratic process; but how? when Congress appears to have reached a stalemate.

While the meter is running, and the president's term is quickly approaching the finish line, accountability doesn't come with an expiration date. And, with the certain nomination of Senator John McCain to fill his cowboy boots, it's even more important now to consider that George W. Bush isn't just McCain's paradigm for so-called "national security," but he also provides a template for abuse of power.

While I don't profess to have the answer to the commenter's question, it isn't too late to appoint a special prosecutor to hold the Department of Justice liable for obstruction of justice in their failure to enforce subpoenas against Miers and Bolten, as well as to consider holding Attorney General Michael Mukasey in contempt of Congress and, as importantly, to hold the president and vice-president responsible for making a mockery of their oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This is not just about attorney-generals, sui generis, it is about the attorney-general, in particular, insofar as Mukasey is deliberately following on the coat-tails of his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, as well as willfully collaborating with the executive branch to impede a congressional investigation. Were the attorney general to be a private citizen, would he not be liable for indictment on charges of obstruction of justice?

More importantly, while the current gang, on Pennsylvania Avenue will be mostly packed, and on their way back to Dodge in January, if the recent elections in Russia and Cuba are any indication of a global trend, if the people and their elected representatives don't speak up now, we may yet have another eight years of Bush redux in the form of President John McCain.

There are those, in this election, who say there is little difference between the positions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but consider that Hillary is the candidate who gets a big thumbs-up from both the president and Rush Limbaugh. Consider, too, that apart from the posturing with respect to being strong on national security, as demonstrated by her red phone ad, Hillary, Bush, and McCain share one common denominator: the desire to prolong the war on terror, and refuse to back down on their wrongheaded assumptions that Saddam Hussein, or the sovereign state of Iraq, had anything to do with the events of 9/11.

Think about the doublespeak inherent in the claim that she will use diplomacy over the military option and, at the same time, call Obama "naive" for suggesting that it might just be possible to get somewhere the old-fashioned way, with round table diplomacy. So, in the coming weeks, when you hear pundits say that there really is no difference between Barack and Hillary, think about the judgment thing, and think about this, too.

There is a difference between the Democrats and Republicans, regardless of who gets the nomination. For, among other things, the next president will not only decide which battlefield to vacate, and which one to occupy, but who to appoint to the Supreme Court. Consider, too, that we're still suffering from the policies of another Republican president, Ronald Reagan, whose strong suit, like McCain's, wasn't economics.

We have yet to see anything "trickle down" from the economic policies espoused by the great Republican ideologues of the past fifty years, and the only part of our economy that has benefited from their notion of a strong defense are the war contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton. In the month of February alone, this country has lost 63,000 jobs, its greatest loss in half a decade.

We must move past the antiquated notion of divine right of delegates, away from an electoral hierarchy in the form of super delegates, and toward economic equity that is reflected not merely in true representation of the will of the people by popular vote, but in hyper focus not on the horse race that is presidential nomination, but on the underlying issues.

It will take a delicate balance to foist the media scrutiny away from the photo op and toward the flawed, rapidly depreciating democratic process. Similarly, dissembling the apparatus of privilege won't happen overnight, but in the meantime, delegates, pledged and super, must recognize and openly acknowledge the link between obscene corporate wealth and the unnecessary, criminal, cost to human life in Iraq, and elsewhere, as well as how corporate profiteering can only result in the unfair balance of power in this country, and globally.

What's more, few need to be reminded that not since Richard Nixon have we seen such wanton, reckless abuse of power, and disregard for checks and balances. We need leadership that is not merely willing to talk, but to listen, too.

While it is not readily apparent if either of the Democratic candidates will be ready, on day one, to meet the challenges of an increasingly ominous world, it is clear that it is no more the domain of super delegates than the Supreme Court to decide who is best equipped.

Yet again, we have a presidential candidate who is at risk of getting slammed by back room brokering, and he is the one who now appears closest to winning the popular vote. He is also, importantly, the candidate who best addresses the need to heal the damage arising from the politics of pre-emption, reaffirm bonds with the the international community, and best contain nuclear proliferation through diplomacy.

Moreover, the "domino theory" of Communism appears to apply more to the past half dozen or so presidential elections. We seem to have descended further and further into the abyss of campaign irrelevancy and untruth, as well as abnegating whatever notion the framers may have had about representational democracy. Frankly, I think Thomas Jefferson would be asking for his money back by now.

If it is the will of the people that that the nomination go to Obama, then it will be up to the delegates to balance that will against the wrath of the world should the power brokers attempt to wrench it away from him.