Senator John Cornyn -- "Big John" -- is circulating a petition demanding that the Obama administration come clean about its "conspiracy" to smear Rush Limbaugh.
Seriously.President Obama owes the American people an explanation.
His staff should apologize to the American people for supporting these tactics and diverting attention to the hard work that needs to be done to get America’s economy back on track.
Please join me in signing this petition and calling on the Obama White House to come clean on this matter.
For the full text of Cornyn's letter about this "outrage," go to Ben Smith's blog at Politico. (The Cesca link comes via John Amato, who also made a "Leave Rush Alone!" video.)
If you're keeping track, this builds on the "Suck-up to Rush" movement by the Republican party, the op-ed by John Boehner claiming Rush is being persecuted as a distraction, and the GOP talking point spread by Ari Fleischer and others that Obama has betrayed his words about a more mature approach to government - by responding to Rush Limbaugh.
This would also be the same John Cornyn who opposes a Truth Commission to look into torture and prisoner abuses by the Bush administration. NPR did a short piece on that, and the AP ran with Cornyn's key sound bite: "The idea that this so-called Truth Commission would somehow resolve the good-faith disagreements ... is just asking us to believe in the tooth fairy."
Cornyn also issued a formal statement:
I oppose the creation of a so-called ‘truth commission’ because it is a redundant and politically divisive exercise that would distract the Executive, Congress, and the American people at a time when we should be focused on reinvigorating our economy and winning the war on terror. This roving, unaccountable inquisition into each and every grievance with a Bush Administration policy is a backward-looking proposition that is directly at odds with President Obama’s stated goals of unity and moving forward...
The proposed ‘truth commission’ would do little more than duplicate years of congressional oversight—not to mention the numerous Executive Branch investigations and related litigation, investigation and prosecution.
I believe that reasonable-minded proponents of this legislation will digest these facts and numbers and conclude, as I have, that Congress has done anything but shirk its responsibility to perform oversight over the past eight years...
President Obama has stated that he is more interested in looking forward than looking back. I would urge my colleagues on the other side to consider the precedent that would be set by creating such a commission—and what it implicitly says about the institutional competence of Congress. Now is not the time for government to waste more of taxpayers’ money by outsourcing a core congressional responsibility.
Read the full piece for fuller context. Cornyn's fellow Republican Arlen Specter favors a Justice Department investigation and possible criminal prosecutions (Specter and other Republicans may be counting on the Democrats not having the stomach for it, as usual). Cornyn claims he supports Congress investigating, but that doesn't square with his arguments that Congress provided adequate oversight of the Bush administration, his claims of "good faith," and the notion that it's important to 'look forward and not back.' Seriously, who exactly buys that Cornyn wants any further investigations at all, by anyone, or welcomes criminal charges for any and all guilty persons? The idea that any of the decisions made to torture, abuse and indefinitely detain prisoners were "good faith" disagreements is particularly laughable with the "ignore all warnings, proceed in secret" Bush administration approach described in Angler, The Dark Side and other sources.
Cornyn speaks of "distractions" and blames Obama regarding both Limbaugh and a Truth Commission. However, the bottom line is Conryn doesn't want any of his buddies held accountable for torture, but wants Obama to pay a price for responding to Rush Limbaugh's attacks. Cornyn has previously tried to defend water-boarding. Apparently, torture is not an "outrage," but replying to Limbaugh's partisan attacks is. That's a pretty fucked-up moral compass.
Unsurprisingly, Cornyn doesn't mention the "nine previously secret legal opinions" of the Bush administration which claimed they could suspend the Constitution and the president had all the unchecked, absolute powers of a dictator. He doesn't say anything about the conclusions of the bipartisan Senate report on the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody, which indicate that further investigation and probably criminal investigations should proceed.
On economic matters, Cornyn is pretending, like many conservatives (and many in the media), that somehow, the 'change in Washington' chosen by the American people in November didn't mean a change in policy, in governance, and who gets to set the agenda. Republican policies have been disastrous, yet Cornyn and his party are still defending almost 30 years of the Reaganomics model of "starving the beast," doubling the national debt, deregulating everything possible, increasing defense spending and waging class warfare on the poor and middle class to give still more money to the richest Americans. Check out DDay, Jamison Foser, Eric Martin 1, Eric Martin 2 and John Cole, among others. Or let's turn it over to Paul Krugman, commenting on Cornyn's fellow Republican John Boehner, who continued to complain about Rush Limbaugh's treatment while offering more crappy policies:
I’m as cynical as they come. Even so, I’m shocked by the total intellectual collapse of the Republican Party in the face of this economic crisis.
I suggested a little while ago that the GOP has become the party of Beavis and Butthead, reduced to snickering at line items in legislation that sound funny. And we’re not just talking about the usual crazies: we’re taking about Saint John McCain, cracking jokes about “Mormon crickets” and “beaver management” when a minute or two on Google reveals that these are, in fact, serious issues.
But it’s getting truly serious when the House minority leader [John Boehner] — essentially, the nation’s second-ranking Republican (after Rush Limbaugh) — declares that the answer to the economy’s downward spiral is a spending freeze. That’s not a retrogression to Herbert Hoover; even Hoover knew better than that.
I’d really like to see some genuine bipartisanship in America. But that can’t happen until we start having at least somewhat sane partisans.
On the intellectual and policy front – the Republican party apparently can't provide a single figure who can make an argument without lying, gross distortion, immaturity or insanity. Bobby Jindal's train wreck of a speech was merely the most prominent and worthy of mockery, but while his delivery was poor, it was the shallow, disingenuous content that was the bigger problem. And what about Rush Limbaugh? Are we supposed to believe all of sudden that Limbaugh argues anything in good faith and factually? Rush Limbaugh is horrible person, who shills the Reagan myth and constantly lies and offers bullshit.
Why does their party warrant any respect whatsoever? Has the Republican party ever not thrown a temper tantrum over not getting everything their way during the past twenty years? And somehow, pointing out the Republican obstructionism exemplified by Rush Limbaugh is a "distraction," and breaking with a "spirit of unity," but GOP attacks and obstructionism aren't? This is a very old conservative game, from Ann Coulter to the current hacks – Republicans argue they should be allowed to say anything they want, no matter how outrageous or inaccurate, but if Democrats respond, they're intolerant or prickly. Even if Republicans are out of power and their policies and leadership have been repudiated, somehow they should get to run the show. Their response to our war of choice in Iraq, our torture and detention policies, and the current economic crisis show there is simply no situation too dire or important for them to drop the bullshit and act for the greater good of the country.
I wish that wasn't the case, but it is. And I have little to no patience for the cognitive dissonance or hackery of our media figures, who pretend the GOP should somehow be taken seriously no matter what crap they offer. Even worse, the press often takes the GOP side. We currently have yet another round of millionaire journalists complaining about Obama raising their taxes and ignoring the benefits of his plans for the middle class, all the while pretending to be objective. It would be wonderful if sane, honest, intelligent Republicans could take their party over. (It'd be great to have an honest, responsible press corps, too.) The Democratic leadership certainly isn't stellar, and Timothy Geithner's approach to economic recovery for the Obama administration is far too invested in protecting power for the greedy incompetents who created this mess in the first place. Still, the Democrats at least occasionally do something positive. John Cornyn, John Boehner and the Republican leadership are using their power to try to shut down any investigation of or accountability for one of the most shameful affairs in our nation's history, the torture and abuse of prisoners in our care. Meanwhile, they're going to great lengths to suck up to, and defend, one of the vilest hacks in the nation, a man who like them wants the Obama administration to fail so the Republicans can retake power - and inevitably screw things up even further. I hope moral outrage fatigue is not so pronounced among people of conscience that these scoundrels are robbed of the utter contempt they deserve.
(Cross-posted at Blue Herald)