Monday, November 15, 2004

Specter's spectre

There's a big brouhaha growing in DC about Arlen Specter's comments about what will happen when Bush II should nominate a pro-life judge for a federal or even Supreme Court position. He is now being attacked right and left, or rather Right and left, for being "disloyal." This increasing notion that Party loyalty trumps every other consideration is beginning to disturb me.

Arlen Specter wasn't elected by his consituents to do what's best for the Republican Party. He was elected to look after Pennsylvania's best interests. And the idea that he and, presumably, every Republican is expected to rubber stamp any action by the President is dangerous.

It's been said many times that politics is about compromise. Hundreds of Senators and Representatives come together from many different states, with many different competing interests, and try to hammer out aggreements and make laws that are good for the country as a whole. Not to implement Party doctrine. And, lately, it seems that the Republicans are treating this election with the attitude of, "Ha, ha, we can do whatever we want now."

Similarly, the CIA has begun a purge of those similarly "disloyal" to the president. The linked Houston Chronicle article reads in part:

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."

Let me make this very clear: it is not the CIA's job to assit the President's agenda. It is the CIA's job to provide intelligence to the government. Period. If the administration can not spin that intelligence to support their policies, that's their problem. They have no business firing people because they might tell the Emperor he has no clothes. Dissent is not disloyalty.

These two things taken together bother me greatly. Now, I don't say this lightly --- I am not a conspiracy theorist and I don't want to sound shrill -- but I think these could be the baby steps toward an authoritarian state. We are seeing one branch of the goverment acting more and more to secure, not the ability to serve the electorate, but it's own power. There is a fine line between no one being able to speak the truth for fear of reprisals to no one being permitted to speak without punishment.

Just a further note about the Specter situation: the right-wing press machine is already starting to spin him as a "liberal," and even an "extreme liberal." He's not. He's a moderate Republican. He is reasonably pro-choice and pro-stem-cell-research. The Christian Coalition gave him an 81% rating in December of 2003.

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