Friday, November 02, 2007

Maybe He Could Try It

This post's topic is precisely the sort of nonsense that makes me not want to comment on the Bush administration: I'm writing political and logical analysis but know that I should probably be writing a review of absurdist theater.

Anyway, Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, just finished telling Congress that he couldn't say whether waterboarding constitutes torture but that, if it does, it's unconstitutional. His explanation for his inability to give an opinion was that he hasn't been briefed on what waterboarding involves.

Where exactly is the fairy kingdom that all these lawyers live in before being nominated for office and what magical properties does it have to keep them from knowing basic information about and giving thought to Roe v. Wade, torture, warrantless government surveillance, and other such questions familiar to tens of millions of people who aren't being offered high level positions based on our knowledge of the law? Can I move to that kingdom? I bet the trees are made of gumdrops and the skies are made of love.

It's pathetic enough that Supreme Court nominees pretend that they've never given serious thought to the hot-button issues of the day. They at least can claim that they might be called upon to rule on them someday and must therefore maintain their neutrality. Attorneys General, though, have to make policy decisions that necessarily eliminate the possibility of neutrality. It will be the next AG's job to say whether waterboarding constitutes torture. If Mukasey doesn't have an opinion about it, he's not taking the job offer seriously enough to deserve the job.

And, Senators, what's wrong with you? You knew about these hearings weeks in advance. What stopped you from sending him a registered letter and an e-mail saying, "We take very seriously the threat both to democracy and to America's reputation abroad posed by allegations of torture. We will be asking you whether you think waterboarding is torture. Please look into what it is so that you can offer informed comment." C'mon. Try harder.

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