By gum, New York’s U.S. Senator Charles Schumer must be reading The New York Crank, and yesterday's post here, just below this one, made him break out in a sweat!
Only kidding, of course. But clearly Schumer must be feeling the sting of a furious backlash from his former supporters, like me, for his endorsement of Michael Mukasey for U.S. Attorney General. Why else would Schumer feel the need to rush into print with a New York Times op-ed piece defending his support of Mukasey? Republicans certainly aren’t upset by it.
Mukasey, it’s impossible to forget, is George Bush’s U.S. Attorney General nominee who swore under oath that he doesn’t, umm, understand what waterboarding is or whether it’s torture. Schumer’s brief in his own defense and that of Mukasey is a masterpiece of verbal legerdemain. It's one of those I-was-against-it-before-it-was-for-it-but-now-I’m-still-against-it flip-flop numbers.
Schumer’s arguments are all easily refutable:
1. Says Schumer, the Justice department is in a shambles and has become an agency that prosecutes people for political reasons and allows ideologues to infect decision making, but Mukasey would fix all that. Oh yeah? And what do you think the White House would do if Mukasey started upsetting the setup? They’d whack his hiney and sent him back into judgeship emeritus, is what. Oh, pardon me. They wouldn’t actually fire him. They’d “accept his resignation.”
2. Says Schumer, if Mukasey gets rejected we’ll have a “caretaker” Attorney General who could function without the advice and consent of the Senate. You mean, the way the previous two attorneys generals have functioned under George Bush? There’s still a House of Representatives that could cut off funding, and strangle various Bush programs – including the Iraq war – in the bathtub. There’d still be your Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck, which still would have subpoena power, and the ability to stir up a hornet’s nest under the President’s chair, especially if you pass anti-torture legislation as your op-ed piece promises and the caretaker Attorney General defies it. Heck, some would say that would be grounds for impeachment.
3. Watch this Schumer Shuffle carefully: “I deeply oppose this administration’s opaque policy on the use of torture – its refusal to reveal what forms of interrogation it considers acceptable. In particular, I believe that the cruel and inhumane technique of waterboarding is not only repugnant, but also illegal…” Oh yeah? So if Chuck is so strongly against dungeon interrogations, how does he account for this contradictory statement (allow lots of time for it to load) heard on ABC Radio. Schumer offers a wild hypothetical supposition about an atomic bomb hidden, more or less, under somebody's bed that would be a justification for "fairly severe" torture.
And if Senator Schumer feels waterboarding is an unacceptable form of torture but he won't rule out torture what form "fairly severe" would he accept? Branding with hot irons? Yanking out fingernails with a pair of pliers? Raping a child in front of its parent? C'mon Chuck, give us a few specifics.
4. Says Schumer, “Even without the proposed law in place, Judge Mukasey would be more likely than a caretaker attorney general to find on his own that waterboarding and other techniques are illegal…” Right. The man who can’t seem to imagine what waterboarding is or whether it's illegal today would suddenly have a change of heart and turn against the President who appointed him.
He must think we were born yesterday
The Senator titled his op-ed supporting Mukasey “A Vote For Justice.” Please, I want to puke. Schumer began his career as a high school politician in Brooklyn. This stuff might still fool the freshman class. It isn’t fooling most of the rest of us.
But when even a few Dems fall for this stuff, thus almost assuring that Mukasey will be the next Attorney General, there isn't much left to do. Except maybe stand under Chuck's window and protest with a song about waterboarding. Maybe Paul Hipp, the composer, would be willing to rename it The Chuck Schumer Waterboard Shuffle.