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After Bush II

One interesting post-Bush question is this. How can a President Kerry scale back some of the more egregious abuses of power Bush has committed without getting blamed for being "soft" on terrorism. Simply rescinding the "enemy combatant" orders isn't good enough, since the viability of that strategy depends on the Democrats winning every election ever which isn't realistic. Plus, it makes Kerry "soft." But what if he were to order the entire Republican congressional caucus to be arrested, shipped to Gitmo, and held imcommunicado? Then he could tell the GOPers that they're free to go as soon as they produce a bill putting some limits on, and oversight of, executive authority in this regard. It's be a Veil of Ignorance sort of thing -- what rules would you want in place if you knew that you were just as likely to be the victim as the beneficiary of the rules you create.

October 31, 2004 | Permalink


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Another thing that concerns me: in a Kerry Administration, there would be large parts of the bureaucracy (notably, Homeland Security and civilians in Iraq) that have been staffed with GOP partisans.

Kerry will face a hostile bureaucracy in both places that he will have to weed out some of the partisans -- at the same time that these disgruntled appointees will leak anything and everything unfavorable to Kerry to GOP-friendly news organizations.

Posted by: Chris Rasmussen | Oct 31, 2004 1:00:42 PM

Do it all in one fell swoop on January 21. Presidential decrees, fait accomplis, and get the congressional Repubs quickly onto the battlefield of defending W's tax cuts and resisting military reform.

The day of the permanent campaign is here. January 20 is the start of the '06 campaign season, and Delay's (hopefully) pending indictment will help throw the Repubs back on their heels...

Posted by: Fred Arnold | Oct 31, 2004 1:16:52 PM

Made my day. Yes. Seriously. We need a bigger island.

Purges on turnover were very common during the late 19th century gridlock. The Republican bureaucrats cannot be trusted.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 31, 2004 1:18:30 PM

Slight modification to Matt's idea: Kerry announces a "date certain" -- 60 days out, say -- for beginning the detention of Congressmen at Gitmo. Each week there are three lotteries -- Republican House Caucus, Democratic House Caucus, and Senate -- with one from each group getting an all-expenses paid, indefinite vacation at Gitmo. Loop, repeat until Congress passes reform legislation.

While we're at it, there should be only one military draft lottery: for draft age children and grandchildren of Congressmen and the Cabinet. If there's a war vote -- Iraq Resolution-style or World War II-style -- a 10% draft lottery automatically goes into effect for that group.

Posted by: Chief Pilot | Oct 31, 2004 1:18:45 PM

I read both left wing web sites like this one and TPM and right wing ones (NRO, etc.). The interesting thing about this election is that both sides believe they are going to win on Tuesday. This is unlike previous elections. The GOP thought it would win handily in 2000, and would have, but for the DWI disclosure and the network screwup that told panhandle Floridians that Bush lost the state when they still could have voted. There was no suspense in 1996 either, or 1988. I frankly cannot recall 1992, but I believe that everyone expected Clinton to win. The problem with this is that unexpected loss is more traumatic, and less accepted, than expected loss. In other words, whoever loses on Tuesday is gonna be mighted pissed and the interparty warfare will get only worse.

By the way, I disagree completely about supposed Republican dominance of the bureaucracy, at DHS or elsewhere. The higherups are republicans but they all must resign effective Jan. 20. Bureaurcrats are overwhelmingly liberal everywhere, for obvious reasons. DHS wasn't staffed out of whole cloth, but existing government workers were transferred there.

Posted by: Abadaba | Oct 31, 2004 1:42:40 PM

Sorry, but the moment you blamed Florida on the Panhandle and the DWI, you marked yourself as a partisan hack.

Posted by: Hank Scorpio | Oct 31, 2004 2:16:53 PM

Krugman wrote a piece awhile back about the necessity for investigations and recriminations. I think he's right that Clinton made a big mistake by taking the high road on that sort of thing, and he certainly learned that it doesn't pay to treat Republicans as though they were decent human beings.

I think that the Kerry administration -- this is still an "if", let us remember -- should practice Rovian message control and should try to ruin the careers of the most egregious media people by denying them access and feeding them disinformation. This is a brave new world we live in.

It seems to me that it should also be possible to use the powers of the president (favoritism, graft and corruption) to break DeLay and Frist's control of their caucusses. It's time for the moderate Republicans to show that (like Santa Claus and the unicorns) they actually do exist.

However, I think that Charlie, Al, and Crusader Rabbit should not be sent to Guantanamo, but instead to Egypt, whose corrections and rehabilitation professionals are more effective and persuasive than ours.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 31, 2004 2:23:02 PM

Nice substantive response Hank. And you are wrong; Bush was up at least 5 points in the final polls in 2000 before the DWI story, and dropped like a rock immediately thereafter. Oh, of course, since in your mindset only Rovian Republicans are responsible for dirty tricks that didn't happen.

Posted by: Abadaba | Oct 31, 2004 2:37:25 PM


Yet another recruit to the 'what do believe? GOP talking points or your own lyin eyes', crowd - truly pathetic!

Posted by: postit | Oct 31, 2004 2:46:02 PM

You guys are deranged. See ya.

Posted by: Abadaba | Oct 31, 2004 3:14:43 PM

"But what if he were to order the entire Republican congressional caucus to be arrested, shipped to Gitmo, and held imcommunicado?…"

I keep having this dream where Kerry does exactly that, and with top administration officials included. But the dream doesn't let them out. They're still there when I wake up.

I hope Rove, DeLay, Cheney and Dubya have been having the same dream…

Posted by: Andew Smith | Oct 31, 2004 3:21:16 PM

Shrug. Jefferson removed the Alien and Sedition acts by simply no longer recognizing them, not anything to take them off the books permanently. We really can only do the same, and hope the country is at a saner place by the time a Federalist... I mean, Republican is in office again.

Posted by: Tony | Oct 31, 2004 4:10:24 PM

Maybe it's a matter of style, but if
someone is apparently unthinkingly using hack talking points, isn't it better to call them on the points, rather than going argumentum ad hominem on them?

Posted by: Bill Arnold | Oct 31, 2004 4:57:40 PM

Ad hominem is more fun and more more useless. Talking-points trolls are impervious to argument.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 31, 2004 7:03:41 PM

Bush was up at least 5 points in the final polls in 2000 before the DWI story

presidents aren't chosen by polls.

Posted by: cleek | Oct 31, 2004 7:23:49 PM

I really hope Kerry recognizes that he's not going to get any decency out of the Republican Congress and comes out guns blazing. His history with respect to BCCI, Iran-Contra, and other scandals has me very hopeful in this regard.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Oct 31, 2004 7:40:29 PM


Its not really much of a veil of ignorance if they're *already* in Gitmo, is it?

Posted by: Patrick | Oct 31, 2004 8:04:59 PM

"Another thing that concerns me: in a Kerry Administration, there would be large parts of the bureaucracy (notably, Homeland Security and civilians in Iraq) that have been staffed with GOP partisans."

Like Norm Minetta? LOL

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Oct 31, 2004 8:25:01 PM

Bush was up 5 points because polls are flawed. Polling methodology can skew results. Bush was up a lot in 2000 in gallup polls (and is in this election too). He was neck and neck in zogby polls. Polls miss certain people regularly. I am a teacher in rural (poor) NC, and when I try to make phone call homes to my students' parents, it is amazing how many do not have a working land lines. People move a lot as situations change, phone service gets cut when there is not enough money to pay the bills. Furthermore, people working 2 jobs are not often home to take calls. Also, many people have only cell phones. Zogby talks a lot about the challenges of polling.

Furthermore, to say that Bush would have won in a landslide if it wasn't for the DUI thing or the panhandle thing is just silly. Gore supporters could just as easily that Gore would have won in a landslide if it wasn't for the butterfly ballot, dirty tricks in West Virginia, Nader, etc. Things happen.

They polled people about whether the DUI thing had any impact on their vote, and the answer was definitively NO. The panhandle thing would not have changed anything because if you recall, Bush ultimately won Florida, so it would have still be neck and neck in electoral college if more people voted in the panhandle. And the popular vote would still have been close, because just how many more republicans than democrats do you think stayed home because of the news?

Many of liberals did not think we had a chance to win in 2000. This was not because we did not have a chance to win, but because the media was extremely (and unfairly) hard on Al Gore, so we believe their anti-hype that no one like him. This time we are on to their game a little more, and just ignore them. That is why we are more confident this time around.

Posted by: J.B. | Oct 31, 2004 8:56:25 PM

J. B., that was all very nice, but I still think that ad hominem abuse is more fun. It's not like the piece-of-shit troll is going to learn anything, or shut his filthy mouth either.

Posted by: Zizka | Oct 31, 2004 10:27:16 PM

Simple: Re-classify the Guantanamo detainees as POWs. Release Padilla unconditionally unless they have enough to charge him with.

Neither will result in Kerry being labelled soft on terror. Declaring the Guantanamo detainees to be POWs allows us to hold them as long as we want and puts an end to the controversy except among the small minority of dumbasses who actually are soft on terror.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Nov 1, 2004 4:18:45 AM

So Kerry should consider continuing to perpetrate injustice in order to avoid the political consequences of appearing 'soft' on terrorism?

So Kerry's popularity is more important than truth and justice? To hell with that justice clap trap, Kerry needs to win re-election.

I mean you spend 4 years righteously whining that Bush puts politics before truth and justice and on the eve of 'Kerry's victory', at a bare minimum, you skate right up the edge and muse that maybe Kerry should put politics before truth and justice.

No, You didn't come right out and say it. You left yourself wiggle room. Yes, a long term solution would be needed.

But if Kerry waits one minute to rescind those orders, because of the obvious political fall out of appearing soft on terrorism, you, MY, should be leading the charge against Kerry's vile subordination of justice to his political fortunes.

You should not be 'cleverly' arguing that Kerry's hesitation is due to something other than political calculation or worse recommending such a course of action as justified by the greater good of electing Democrats or anything like that.

Rather you should be righteously whining that the President trashes justice in order to further his political fortunes.

After which pigs will fly.

Posted by: BigMacAttack | Nov 1, 2004 11:03:49 AM

I'm with you on incarcerating the Repuglicans, but given the voting on both the Iraq Anschluss and the Patriot Act, oughtn't you to urge a bracing encounter with Gitmo for both parties? And in view of said voting, perhaps you should rightly call your operating principle "The Veil of Ignoramuses."

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