30 August 2009

The Cheney Doctrine: Partisan Immunity

The former vice president has denounced all moves that might be made to investigate the conduct of the CIA or anything to do with torture or illegal treatment of prisoners during the George W. Bush administration as "partisan" and "political." An echo chamber of Republican opinion will confirm Cheney in his opinion that a Democratic administration is looking into these things only because the previous administration was Republican. But the burden of proof ought to be on Cheney to prove the motive. The logic of the American Bipolarchy is such, however, that the mere existence of two major parties who monopolize the government between them is proof enough for a dedicated partisan that any move by one party that might reflect badly on the other is automatically partisan. In other words, the fact that the Justice Department is under the control of a party other than Cheney's is proof that anything it does while so controlled is "political." This is the basis of the unspoken concept of partisan immunity that allows each party to get away with numerous abuses of power or law on the assumption that the other party is less interested in upholding the law than in abusing power to destroy its opponent. Republicans try to obfuscate this point by accusing Democrats of hypocrisy. They contend that Democrats condemn policies carried out by Republicans that they would just as readily carry out themselves, or that they only question the legality of Republican policies out of partisan malice. Democrats don't make the same argument as often, but it can be argued that Bill Clinton benefited from the partisan immunity principle when he was spared removal from office after his impeachment despite Republican control of Congress.

The easiest way to refute the partisan immunity premise would be to break the Bipolarchial domination of the political sphere so that it would no longer be possible for one side to argue that a legal inquiry could only be meant to benefit one party. Once it can be shown that policies won't only benefit one party or the other, that kind of argument won't hold water any more, though partisans will probably still try to use it. If more people recognized how the two major parties enable one another in spite of yet because of their exclusive enmity, they might be more willing to support new parties to hold both present ones accountable to the law and the constitution, and maybe even the will of the people as well.


Anonymous said...

Although I agree that the bipolarchy must be brought down for the good of the country, in this particular case all it really needs is a democrat with an actual spine to stand up, investigate and make public his findings. And then have the guts to point the finger and let the public know "this person broke the law. He did not do so because he's a republican, he did so because he cared more about his personal agenda than about following the law and upholding the constitution."

Samuel Wilson said...

More than that: the Democrat (or whoever) would have to show that Cheney is using the "partisan immunity" defense to get away with stuff. I wouldn't expect a Democrat to say that such a defense is an outgrowth of a two-party system, but if some Democrats recognize the problem their party might actually survive the demise of the present Bipolarchy.

Anonymous said...

I doubt there will ever be a demise of the bipolarchy. The feeble minded are too many and too entrenched in their particular brand of (not) thinking. If anything, we are witnessing the first steps into the devolution into the American idiocracy.