For all of my fifty years on the planet the Republicans have been the party of crime and punishment. Republicans were tough on crime, Democrats were Soft on Crime. From Nixon onward, this has been a major line of attack against all Democrats. Democrats coddled criminals like Willie Horton, for instance, while Republicans would have locked him up for life….or put him to death.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the administration of Republican President Richard Nixon continued the full-on attack against crime begun by Johnson — but with an emphasis on law and order. Nixon’s policy, however, came under attack, largely from liberals, who saw Nixon’s law and order campaign as attempts to put down civil rights activists and antiwar demonstrators. President Nixon, on the other hand, used the rising public sentiment that criminals were out of control and city streets unsafe to assail members of the Democrat Party as being “soft on crime.”
Though many Liberals support it too, the Republicans have always been the party of the death penalty as well. By far the most used argument being that facing the ‘punishment’ of death will deter people from killing others. The death penalty deters murder. Stiff sentences deter crime. Three Strike laws deter career criminals. It is not inaccurate to say that ‘Soft on Crime’ and deterrence through harsh punishment and penalty was one of the Right Wings great themes of the late 20th Century.
Republicans are tough on crime. Because being tough on crime….prevents future crimes. If you do not harshly punish crime, it just leads to more and greater crimes.
Which brings us to George Bush….and the various and sundry crimes that he and the officials of his administration have committed. And make no mistake, crimes HAVE been committed. From outting an entire CIA network, to the 269 War Crimes that have been documented to the outright confessions of Bush on Domestic Spying and Cheney on authorizing the torture program and the resulting homicides, there can be no doubt left that there is plenty of cause for, at the very least, a thorough investigation. In fact you see very little if any questions as to whether Bush and company have committed crimes. The debate now is over what to do about them.
Virtually none of the comments I have seen opposing the idea of appointing a Special Prosecutor to even investigate the crimes of the last eight years have centered on guilt or ignorance. Every piece of punditry, comment and column has centered not on the criminality and the crimes themselves….but on the politics of the situation. Not the crimes…not the victims. And certainly not what it means to be an American in an America that tortures. They do not want to think about that….they do not want to know. And so they dimish it to a “political matter” and refer to the false meme of “criminalizing politics” ….rather than as the politicization of a War Crime.
Some say it is revenge, not justice, that is the motivation for a Special Prosecutor. Is prosecuting crime, any crime, and punishing crime, any crime….just revenge? What about merely investigating whether crimes have been committed or not, is that revenge too? Or is it being….tough on crime?