On CNN's "State of the Union" program today, John Podesta of the Center for American Progress took a seemingly middle-of-the-road position on the torture memos: He indicated that he thought pursuing potential prosecutions of the torture-regime architects was a bad idea -- but at the same time, called for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee for his role in authoring them:
Podesta: The one thing I disagree with you and David [Gergen] about is I do think there's a distinction between going back and prosecuting in criminal courts the actors who were involved in these memos and letting Judge Bybee continue to sit on a court one step removed from the Supreme Court. He's acting and listening to cases, making judgments of others, and we know he authorized things that were illegal under U.S. law and violated the U.S. obligations under international treaties.
If he would do the right thing, he should just simply resign. If he doesn't, I think this is one matter where he continues to sit -- he doesn't have the moral or legal authority to continue to do that. And I think a simple matter would be to remove him from office.
King: We need to move on, but do your friends at the White House agree with you on this?
Podesta: You'd have to ask them. But I suspect they don't.
The Village may shake its collective finger at Podesta, but this is just the beginning of the effort to remove Bybee. As DDay reports, the California Democratic Party is preparing a resolution calling for his impeachment as well.
Still, it's amazing how the Beltway Villagers -- particularly the political-media pundit class -- seem to have wholly absorbed the Rovean idea that the fight over the torture memos and the calls for investigation are about "revenge" and partisan recrimination, that this is about "criminalizing politics."
That was the entire context of the discussion of the memos in this show, not to mention most of the discussions I've seen on Fox and MSNBC too. It's the context of David Broder's recent blatherings on the subject.
You have to wonder when these people will wake up to the reality that judging these kinds of political endeavors by the ostensibly dark motives of the people behind it is simply blithering nonsense. It's also worth noting that, within the confines of the Village, this kind of judgment is only ever to be raised against liberals and the Left generally. It's "partisan" to do that with the Right, you know (see, e.g., the Clinton impeachment brouhaha).
These are, of course, the same people who dismissed those same Dirty Freaking Hippies when they warned that invading Iraq would turn into a disaster -- because, of course, they only opposed the war out of Bad Motives (i.e., they reflexively hated Bush).
Of course, this narrative -- liberals proceed from knee-jerk, visceral motives -- constantly repeated is also a very comforting and self-serving one for the established classes of the Village. It's also been repeatedly proven wrong -- to very little notice inside the Village.
This isn't about Right and Left. This is about Right and Wrong. Not that the Village would ever get such alien concepts.