Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obama is right to be reluctant to investigate Bush admin officials and the torture issue

I am a strong proponent of the Rule of Law as a basic element of the American nation, since without the Rule of Law the Constitution itself, the basis of all American law, is nothing by a fanciful piece of fiction. So I strongly support investigation of the high government officials and prosecution when necessary. No one is above the law. Ever. That is an absolute necessity in America if America is to continue to exist as a democratic form of nation.

That said, Harry Truman considered the need for national health care to be critical back in 1948. It was seriously discussed when Social Security was passed in the 30's. It's been two generations now, and the need has only gotten much worse in the intervening years of conservative obstruction and delay. I also see what appears to me to be a concerted effort by Obama and his administration to clear the decks of anything and everything that would interfere with passing universal national health care in some form this year.

Obama is gathering allies and neutralizing opponents at every step of his administration, and I'd guess that even includes the sacrifice of some things he otherwise considers very, very important. To me that appears a likely explanation for many of the decisions, actions and statements that Obama has been making which have infuriated Progressives. One of those items is, I think, Obama's reluctance to be seen supporting investigation and the potential prosecution of Bush/Cheney officials for their crimes in office. I think that every action, decision and statement out of the Obama administration has to be considered in the light of the question of how it will effect Obama's effort to pass universal health care by October of this year.

My guess is that the Obama effort to avoid a divisive battle over investigating and possible prosecution of Bush/Cheney administration officials is one of the otherwise extremely important things that is being sacrificed to get the health care bill passed. Any such prosecutions will unavoidably be highly divisive and will completely consume the media, sucking wind out of the health care issue. Prosecutions of ex-government officials is "sexy" and easy reporting to the media, just as dead blond girls or the J.R. murder trial are. Health care legislation is not similarly easy to cover. Obama has a unique opportunity to pass health care at long last, and the investigation/prosecution issue threatens that greatly.

That's the kind of balancing act that Presidents must perform. There are two absolutely critical issues that have to be dealt with, and to deal with either means sacrificing the other. If I'm right, then Obama's choice of putting all his effort into the health care fight is, I'd say, the correct decision. Not one I like and not a pretty choice, but certainly the one that I think needs to be made for the long term good of America.

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