Monday, March 19, 2007

New Rule

Sometimes Partisanship is OK

Here's my new rule, and I especially mean this to apply to the dismissed prosecutors case that is sure to dominate the news this week, and may lead (if there's even a vestige of justice left in the world WILL lead) to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto 'Abu' Gonzales. - The Repuglicans don't get to use the word 'partisan' in any of its forms to describe Democrats any more. And I'll tell you why.

Democracy cannot function without partisanship. In order to have a choice, the electorate MUST have at least two, and preferably more options to chose from. Therefore it is not only appropriate but desirable and even essential that a political party present its policies in a clear and distinct voice, ESPECIALLY when those policies differ from the opposition. For the last few years, it is exactly this type of 'partisanship' that the Republicans have been criticizing the Democratic party of at every possible opportunity. The portable public chorus of the mainstream media has seen no reason to object to this totally unworthy ploy.

There is a kind of partisanship that is completely unacceptable, in many countries criminal, and that type of partisanship can only really be carried out by the party in power. That is partisanship from within the government apparatus. Even though an appointment to the civil service may be a political reward, once in office, the appointee has an obligation to serve not only the party and/or individual who appointed him or her, but the whole country.

In Canada, I daresay we have as many political appointees serving in government as you do in the US. There are a couple of differences though. First, there are fewer, short-term patronage appointments of the type that seem to beg for an increase in the index of corruption. Most civil servants in Canada are long-term professional bureaucrats. They are sworn to be apolitical, and the vast majority do an admirable job of maintaining an arms length relationship with the government currently in power. One could hardly avoid the mention of Canada's Auditor General, Sheila Fraser in this context. A Liberal appointee, she nonetheless led to that party's ouster from government when she uncovered the federal sponsorship scandal - a scandal which centered on some other Liberal appointees who illegally used government resources and money to further an agenda that was not aimed at the good of the country, but at the success of the Liberal party. This scandal and the way it played out does our system of government proud, in my opinion.

The outing of Valerie Plame is an example of unacceptable partisanship. The removal of perfectly good federal prosecutors for not abusing their positions to further a Republican agenda is another good example. Contracts to Halliburton, Diebold, ES&S, The Carlyle Group, Blackwater, etc., etc., etc., are all examples of partisanship corrupting government in an unacceptable and harmful way. A way that threatens democracy itself.

Not surprisingly, the issue of partisanship and the strange use of that word by the Republican party and their media parrots came up today in this New York Times article about Patrick Leahy demanding answers from the White House. While this whole story is redolent with bullshit as it is, one statement from Senator John Cornyn (R - Texas) has a fetid pungency acrid enough to overwhelm the general stink.
None of the Republicans who took to the airwaves on Sunday offered a spirited defense of the administration, but Mr. Cornyn and others did take exception to the Democratic vow to subpoena White House officials and accused some Democrats of trying to turn the issue to their political advantage.

“I’ll join Senator Leahy in getting to the facts and following the facts where they may lead,” Mr. Cornyn said. But he accused some Democrats of crossing a line “into basically a political witch hunt,” citing the role of Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as head of the subcommittee running the investigation into the dismissals of the prosecutors.
Yes, Mr. Cornyn, if the Democrats reap a political advantage by exposing Republican corruption, that is not partisanship - it is just the Democrats fulfilling their obligation of governmental oversight. An obligation, by the way, that has not been carried out by the Republicans in the Senate or House of Representatives for over six years now. Any political advantage accrued by the Democrats is an advantage your party handed to them.

Corruption within government and covering up for corruption are partisan acts, Senator. Exposing corruption is not. Got it?

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