Of all the many egregious traits of the current administration, perhaps the most harmful to the nation is its consistent teen-aged cowardice and inability to face up to the way the world is and find a way to move forward in that world. Now:
The Justice Department’s decision to indict Jose Padilla is the latest example of how the Bush administration short-circuits any legal review of the expansive powers it has claimed in the war on terror, legal experts said Tuesday.
In the Padilla case, the administration wanted to prevent a showdown in the Supreme Court over whether the president legally can hold a U.S. citizen indefinitely without criminal charges by declaring him an enemy combatant.
So, instead of getting a ruling from the Supreme Court, and then figuring out how to defeat our enemies and protect the nation within the bounds of the constitution as interpreted by the Court — for instance, the way FDR and Truman defeated Hitler and the axis powers, and the way all the presidents from Ike to Bush the Elder defeated Soviet communism — the administration slimes around the Court.
As if David Souter, John Paul Stevens, and Anthony Kennedy would even for a moment consider issuing a decision they thought risked endangering the nation militarily, and as if they were not lifelong establishmentarians and Republicans. I have little doubt that these gentlemen have at least one Korematsu decision in them, and no doubt that the others on the Court, including the two lily-livered Clinton Democrats, have in them as many Korematsus as George Bush needs for his War on Terra.
Why should we be surprised at any new weaseling out by the administration? The administration uniformly seeks the easy way out whenever push comes to shove. This easy-way-out program started in Florida 2000, when the GOP went to federal court to short-circuit the perfectly good constitutional mechanism for deciding disputed presidential elections in the House of Representatives, an especially indefensible tactic given that the result in the House was pre-ordained.
And easy-way-out has continued ever since: cut taxes, but don’t cut spending; attack Iraq, but do it on the cheap and without a draft; acquiesce to a Medicare drug benefit, but make it hard to use, and make sure that huge, needless amounts of waste go to supporters in Big Pharma and the insurance industry; and on and on.
Why do they do this? David Rivkin, “staunch defender of the administration,” has the answer:
“I think this is a sign of fear that they would lose,” said David Rivkin, who has worked in the Justice Department for Republican administrations. “But there is no way the Supreme Court was going to order the release of someone like Padilla.”
“Fear that they would lose.” I think this unintentionally captures why more and more Americans are turning away from this administration in real disgust: Americans in general have confidence that we can win within the rules, and it turns our stomach to be under the scared, chicken-shit reign of people who in a bone-deep way believe that we will lose unless we cheat.