Answers Needed

Scarecrow at FireDogLake wants Obama and Clinton to answer some important questions before they take office.

1. Given that the Bush/Cheney regime has been the most lawless and destructive of Constitutional safeguards in our lifetimes, what do you intend to do to bring those who flouted the law to justice? If nothing, how do you expect to restore respect for the Constitution and the rule of law and restore confidence in the Department of Justice?

2. On repeated occasions, far too many Democrats have voted in Congress to enable or immunize lawless actions by the Bush/Cheney regime. What would you do as President to restore respect for the Constitution within your own party?

6. How do you intend to pay for the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and prepare the country to fund the public investments you think vital to our economic interests?

7. How do you propose to change the attitudes and mindset that led us into aggressive wars?

I think the first two questions are likely the most important for the health of our country.  I do not want to have a Democratic administration continue to use the powers the Bush administration has illegally seized simply because Congress has failed to repudiate Bush’s actions. Bush may not have succeeded in expanding the powers of the executive branch to the point of complete dictatorship, but he has undoubtedly moved our country away from the rule of law and from the checks and balances set forth in our Constitution. We need Clinton and Obama to confront these issues before either takes office. Not only would it serve assuage fears I have about the health of our democracy, it would provide a marked contrast with anti-Constitution John W. McCain, who offers only a third term for the Bush administration.

The questions Scarecrow poses on war policy play into the health of our nation as well. War and terrorism was the excuse that has shielded most of the Bush administrations expansions of executive power. The shadow of future aggressive wars still hangs over this country, as we’re seeing with the treatment of Admiral Fallon. Beyond timid promises to end the war in Iraq, Clinton and Obama need to speak directly to how they change conventional wisdom on the US of American power. In Obama’s case, this should stem from an explanation as to how he had the judgment to oppose the war in Iraq and what structural similarities he sees in the country’s attitudes in 2002 and now. In Clinton’s case, she would have to frame an explanation around what she has learned since voting for war in Iraq.

I do not expect answers to these questions to be forthcoming, which is a sad statement on the health of our democracy, our democratic process, and our capacity for thoughtful engagement of challenging, if unpleasant, questions.

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