Monday, March 16, 2020

Brazen acts of Presidential incompetence - a fond look back

By Scott V. Sandford
Justice Correspondent
with Larry Lowell, Cambridge Correspondent

In these dark fear clad days with normal life as we knew it on hold, we think it important to continue with some of the Spy's longest and proudest traditions, if only to show that not everything has to change.  Constant readers know that the Spy has a never-ending fondness for making what it had thought was an obvious point, but one that seems to elude even the keenest intelligences and Harvard Law Professors (to be clear, overlapping but not identical groups): that the brazen lies, cruelty, stupidity, and corruption of the current Republican Administration bear a remarkable resemblance to, and continuity with, over 40 years of Republican Presidential horses***.

Today, from his no doubt pleasing 14-room Queen Anne off Brattle Street, please welcome the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard, one Jack Goldsmith.  Jack, when not thrilling us with tales of his days mixed up with Jimmy Hoffa's gang, Tweets.  What's on your mind, Jackson?

Well, when a Professor at the Harvard Law School starts thinking, who knows what might happen next?

Is he missing anything? Is this one of those crackling scenes set in a stark old-fashioned lecture hall in Langdell when the great Professor Smoot stares eagle-eyed at the young thirsters after money and power [Surely, knowledge? – Ed.] before turning to his class list and saying something like. “Mr. Roberts [or Mr. Pompeo, or Mr. Cruz, or any other distinguished alum], what am I missing?”

If that's what you thought, you've been stuck watching too many 80's TV shows on channel 38.72 or whatever.  His question is meant in the faux-humble professorial way as “I'm not missing anything, you churls.”

Of course, a man who has spent his entire life in the legal academy might be forgiven for, um, missing anything, like the previous Republican Administration.  So let's not be too hard on this Sage of Langdell.  After all, how would he know what went down during the Administration of George W. Bush?  You there, in the back row, reading the Harvard Law web site, what do you have to say?

Before coming to Harvard, Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, from October 2003 through July 2004, and Special Counsel to the General Counsel to the Department of Defense from September 2002 through June 2003.  

Oh,  That's different then.  Cancel one act of forgiveness.

Prof. Goldsmith missed that one
Could it really be that Jack Goldsmith missed President George W. Bush's failure to protect our country from al-Qaeda terrorists whom his own CIA told him were “determined to strike in the U.S.?”  We suppose that's barely possible, as in August 2001 Professor Goldsmith was planning to resume teaching alongside his colleague Professor Obama at the University of Chicago Law School.

But years later could it really be that Jack Goldsmith then missed W.'s brazen efforts to cover up all inquiries into his Administration's sorry anti-terrorism record, up to and including refusing to provide full sworn individual testimony to the 9/11 commission?

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have placed strict limits on the private interviews they will grant to the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that they will meet only with the panel's top two officials and that Mr. Bush will submit to only a single hour of questioning, commission members said Wednesday. 

In fact from September 11, 2001 through – this morning, Jack Goldsmith's old boss and client has never fully and candidly accounted or sought forgiveness for his Administrations contumacious incompetence in the months leading up to 9/11.

But it's not as if the former Bush Administration mouthpiece and critic of the current Republican President missed just one thing.  He missed the other even bigger thing: the planning and execution of a needless war on Iraq conceived in lies and carried out with wanton disregard for human life and international law.

Today we still have only the haziest idea of why George W. Bush decided, or had decided for him, that the most appropriate response to the terror attack of 9/11 was to invade and lay waste to a country that had – nothing to do with it.  Nothing.  Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.  Everyone knows this, even those among us whose buns are not resting comfortably in the Henry Shattuck Chair.

Nor have the architects of and apologists for the brutal war and the concomitant attack on basic norms of American justice and international law, like Jack Goldsmith, ever taken responsibility for their errors of omission and commission.   This isn't the time and the place to put Professor Goldsmith's hands under the UV light, but those interested can check out the Professor's own argument for covering up Bush Administration war crimes here.

You might even call such a brazen effort to wipe away the past like a dirty iPhone screen a “remarkable combination of gutlessness and weakness,” to borrow a catchy phrase we learned recently.

But it's not just that, as we have said repeatedly ad or very likely trans nauseam.  Rather, the efforts of Jack Goldsmith and his merry but tiny band of anti-U Bum ex-Bush functionaries and hacks are not just cowardice and weakness.

They are the result of ambition.

If you remember the Bush Administration's
lies and war crimes, join the pile!
Jack, Billy, Toronto Dave, Max, Ana, Ricky, Steve, and all the others currently languishing on op-ed pages and cable news panels are all positioning themselves for the day when the Tangerine-Faced Grifter is permanently sitting on his golden throne in paradise and they can attach themselves to whatever spineless Republican follows.  When that day comes, they'll be looking to reoccupy all the cushy jobs they enjoyed during the last Republican nightmare administration and they'll be ready to embark on new rounds of bloody war, perhaps directed towards Iran.

And to return to the levers of power, or at least the ones that open the bomb bay doors, they have to pretend that the Tangerine-Faced Grifter's flaming clown car was an isolated stepchild on the waters of government, when in fact lies, incompetence, greed, and bigotry have been the sum total of Republican politics since 1964.  No wonder they are trying to pretend the Bush Administration never happened.

If you can't see them coming, perhaps you're missing something.

Now follow Professor Jack's example with respect to his own culpability for past Republican excrescences and wash your hands.

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