Monday, March 15, 2010

Rahm to Constitution: Drop Dead

While the country is absorbed in "HCR" -- health care reform -- are we ignoring a patient that's dying on the emergency room table? I'm talking about the U.S. Constitution.

"We the people . . . "
The U.S. Constitution: still a priority?

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a long piece on Rahm Emmanuel and his role in the Obama Administration's progress (or lack thereof) in advancing its agenda. I have to confess that I'm not savvy about the complexities of advancing major legislation, and all the talk of arm-twisting and back-room deals left me at a bit of a loss.

And besides, I wanted to know about Rahm's role in holding back the Administration's promised actions to close Guantanamo, conduct civilian trials for accused terrorists, and take other steps to reverse the rights debacle of the Bush era. I waded through paragraph after paragraph about party strategy and special election headaches, until I got to the part about the Justice Department.

The article said that Rahm found himself pitted against AG Eric Holder (which I already knew) and White House counsel Greg Craig, who eventually resigned (which I didn't know). And then it said something about these issues that made the world stand still for me:
"Emmanuel is not particularly vested in the substantive merits or drawbacks of the specific plans. He sees them as politically problematic, wasting scarce capital and provoking unnecessary fights on what he regards as second-tier issues that distract from higher priorities."
Wasted capital? Unnecessary fights? Second-tier issues? Is this how we describe the fundamentals of government power and individual rights?

In other words, the U.S. Constitution has become a second class citizen in 2010 America; at least while there are more important things like health care reform to accomplish.

Health care reform is an important and vast and fascinating undertaking. But care and feeding of the Constitution has got to be our national leaders' No. 1 job. It's a matter of priorities.

President Gerald Ford rejects NYC pleas for aid.

Related posts

The story of the past decade-plus has been the story of the assertion by some that the conception of law that our society has is not sufficient.  Simply put, there are those who say that there is a third, "in-between" category of behavior -- and legal status -- that is not civilian (subject to criminal law) and not military (subject to military law and the laws of war). And since there are no rules about how to deal with that third category . . . .

(See Using the Good, Old Criminal Justice System: Worth a Try?)

We are allowed to know all about these killings, provided we're prepared to believe the statements of a person we can't confirm exists about a program which is not acknowledged to be happening. We are living in a nightmare that makes Philip K. Dick's dystopias look cozy in comparison.

(See Drones and Zero Accountability Government)

We all wish to be judged by our good intentions. But the way people know us is through our actions. So ... what do people in the Muslim world know about us here in the United States?

(See They'll Know Us By Our Actions)

Rahm appears to be turning what was supposed to be a prime Presidential Moment -- the May 2012 Chicago summit of NATO and G8, at which Obama will preside, in the President's own "home town" and headquarters of his 2012 re-election campaign, no less -- into a fiasco.

(See Does Obama have a Rahm Problem? )