Monday, October 02, 2006

By Our Fears You Shall Know Us

Given the incalculable damage that the Republican party has done to our Republic in recent years, I share the grim cheer of all people of good will about the recent Foleygate scandal. (Ongoing coverage can be found at Talking Points Memo and Unclaimed Territory; good contextualization from Publius.) At this point, anything that hurts the Republicans helps the Republic: it's that simple. (A terrible place to be, really, for that level of partisanization is extremely dangerous and in the medium term will corrupt the Democrats too. But it's true.) So the developing scandal is, to repeat, something that will give a cheer -- grim cheer, given the actual lives damaged by these men -- to all people of good will.

But I must admit that my other reaction is: for !@#$%'s sake, this, this, this is what we're upset about?!?

Last week the Congress of the United States passed a bill to legalize torture and end habeas corpus, the most fundamental legal right in our legal system -- the Military Dictatorship Act of 2006 -- and we're worried about some !@#$%ing sex scandal?!?

And the sex scandal is not even the second biggest news of the past few days -- that honor would be the revelations in Bob "Stenographer to Power" Woodward's new book about the process by which we were led into Vietnam 2: This Time It's Desert Heat.

For that matter, the House's passing of an act to encourage unconstitutional violations of the separation of Church and State probably would come in third in any honest accounting -- at least of any people fundamentally concerned with liberty and decency and human rights.

I'd say that Foleygate is a solid fourth, but I'm probably forgetting something -- or there's probably something that I didn't even !@#$%ing hear about since I was too distracted by the above three -- and, of course, Foleygate (I too am an American: I too find it fascinating). (One candidate for fourth would be the passing of the Let's Go To War Again Iran Freedom Support Act by a voice vote...)

We desperately need some balance in our Government -- some check against a political party "whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant" and which "is unfit to be the ruler of a free people". If Foleygate can help provide that, it will have been something important for our country.

But if all we care about is a sex scandal -- however many Congressional leaders covered it up (and are still covering it up), however much it can serve as a symbol of how the Republicans have abandoned any concern save for their own power -- then I fear our days as a "free people" are numbered. If we can't bring ourselves to care, to truly, deeply care -- at least enough to throw the bastards out and begin to reverse the damage they have done -- about the destruction of our most central liberties and rights, and about the horrific way in which malevolent people led us into an odious war, then I fear we no longer are a free people. A free people would be far, far more shocked and horrified by the Military Dictatorship Act of 2006 than by any sex scandal; far, far more horrified by the truths about the Iraq war.

We won't always be saved by the private evils of freedom's enemies. Sooner or later, we need to stand up for freedom -- and against the tyranny of unnecessary and mendaciously-created war -- on its own terms.

We will only be the land of the free if we care about freedom. Do we still?

Update: Just to be pedantically clear, I hope that everyone gets that I find the actions not only of Foley but also of the Republican Congressional leadership in response to Foley's actions "deplorable, reprehensible, unforgivable, intolerable, contemptible", to quote Digby's list. It's just that authorizing torture, ending habeas corpus, blowing off the Al Queada threat and then lying about it to the 9/11 commission, getting us involved in horrific wars and attacking the separation of church and state are each far more deplorable, reprehensible, unforgivable, intolerable, contemptible, because they affect far more people, and because (for most of the above) they attack the foundations of the Republic. They are -- simply -- bigger deals. That the Congress (and the Republican party, and weak-spined Democrats) have done far, far greater evil in the past week does not mitigate their foul actions in this other context. But it does suggest we ought to be more outraged about the larger evils -- and that we are not says something ugly about us as a people.

Second Update: Tonight Josh Marshall mentioned "maybe four or five stories, each of which could totally dominate the national political news on their own." And this was without mentioning the legalizing of torture and the abolition of habeas corpus (which to be fair, hasn't been dominating the political news -- which was my whole point).


Jeffrey Klineman said...

Stephen --

I do think you failed to note (except in the form of imploring people to please, please, throw the bastards out) that the chief reason the Foley story is number one -- regardless of whether or not it should be -- is that it comes right during the first election season in some time when it has actually seemed conceivable that the bastards could, indeed, lose their craggy grips on the reins of legislative power.

Contextually, that's bound to give it a boost.

Not that that's right -- these scandalous acts of legislation are indeed all more important than the pedarasty of a lone politician, even factoring in the garden-variety coverup and a denoument that rivals only a choose-your-own-adventure book in predicability (oh, no, the speaker is gone, how will we replace the speaker, oh, wait, new speakers are easier to find than replacement parts for a blown subwoofer) that follow -- but the opporutnity people recognize to change the authorship of some of these bills rather than take a doomed stand against them is what's propelling the story onto the far right column, above the fold.

Stephen said...

Hey, Jeff, thanks for dropping by!

I basically agree with everything you say -- I sort of thought I said that, too. I'd meant too. I absolutely agree that it's crucial to throw the bastards out -- and if the Foley scandal is what does it, then I'll applaud.

I just wish it was the other things. I wish that we, as a people, were more concerned about them than this. But definitely, I'll take what I can get!