Friday, January 16, 2009

Questions of Inquest

Paul Krugman is displeased with Obama's apparent unwillingness to investigate the Bush Administration:

I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly, that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies.
I'm torn on this subject--truly torn. I can't see any fault with transparency, with holding those who occupy our highest offices accountable, perhaps even more accountable than any others. But if we are to go into it with Krugman's presuppositions--basically asserting that there was abuse even before it's been proven--than aren't we waging a political vendetta more than seeking justice?

Krugman declares that "the fact is" the Bush administration committed various abuses, though really, sans the inquest, how can he possibly know what any of the facts are? This isn't necessarily meant as a case against an inquest, but it certainly reveals Krugman's argument to be more emotionally based than anything. The fact is, we don't know anything. I think this is a pretty good argument in and of itself to do an inquest. But until that time we should be asking questions, not stating opinions as though they were facts.

Krugman's a smart guy. He should know better. A far better case could be made from a more nuetral standpoint. Hell, I think the case should be made that all outgoing administrations will be wihout fail investigated thoroughly by an independent inquest upon their departure from office. We should set precedent that regardless of a President's popularity or perceived honesty or dishonesty he or she, and the men and women in their cabinet, will be investigated for wrong-doing while in office.

We should keep all our elected officials honest. But honesty doesn't necessarily equate with popularity, and Bush's unpopularity should not be reason enough to investigate him, no matter how politically opposed we may be to his decisions. This should simply be status quo. Take the politics out of it, and demand the rule of law above all else.


Wellsy said...

The fact that we don't know anything when things are supposed to be transparent should be reason enough for an inquest, no?

E.D. Kain said...

Exactly, which is the point I was trying to make. I get too wordy...