Whatever happened to the concept of the “loyal opposition?” What that meant was that the two-party political system we entertain here in the United States was composed of both Democrats and Republicans, who more or less took turns running the country. The percentage of Rs and Ds varied at different times. The “loyal opposition” meant that when members of one party had control of the governing bodies, the other party cooperated and supported the system and the Chief Executive–the President.
That is not to say that there has never been wiggle-room on major issues on which the representatives of the various fifty states disagreed…or more specifically on which their constituents had strong feelings one way or the other. This political form allows for differences in campaign rhetoric…and for situational platforms for argument and regional points-of-view.
Recently 47 members of the United States Senate acted on their own to basically go over the head of the President and threaten a foreign power with possible political ramifications. The key point here is that all but a handful of Republican Senators signed the obnoxious–if not treasonous–letter to Iran, warning that they could reverse any agreement or negotiations of President Barack Obama concerning Iran’s nuclear program.
The huge number of signers indicates that there was a significant volume of political pressure on Republican Senators, so pervasive and strict that only a handful–less than ten–dared to go against the party sledgehammer. Vulnerable members of the Senate apparently had little choice, and not much to lose because of the sheer number of participants who signed the letter to Iran. The others, the old-timer big-shots of the party and the Tea Partiers and axe-grinders, could well afford to join the vast majority and sign the letter. No doubt these people thought that their action was a bold definitive statement, and would be accepted by the general nay-sayers and Obama-haters among their constituents.
In some quarters–such as major national newspapers–are calling these 47 Senators “traitors.” That’s going pretty far, as obviously most of the Signers of the infamous letter to Iran are not traitors, and may have looked upon the matter as inconsequential, and a harmless thorn in President Obama’s side. One that would cause a commotion, and attempt to somehow diminish the President’s standing by building their own reputation as out-spoken and heroic firebrands.
In my opinion it was a stupid move, and illustrates just how far from common sense and good government our Senate has advanced.
Remember a few decades ago when the huge scandal that would be known forever as “Iran Contra” broke? Hmmm… Iran again… when the CIA sold guns to Iran to make money to finance the tragic yet silly fiasco of trying to fight the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. It could be argued I suppose, that then-President Ronald Reagan actually did have authority to approve the complicated Iran-Contra operation…and of course there was the added attraction which provided the Democrats a platform for beating the drums against the Reagan administration.
But that’s another story…
Often the” tattle-tale” gets in more trouble than the actual culprit. The kid that breaks the vase while showing off baseball prowess in the living room gets less flack than the sibling who tells on him. The gang-banger who reports a robbery to police will be permanently ostracized by peers, while the robber gets off with a slap on the wrist. This is one of the truisms of childhood, and honor-among-thieves is often admired, at least secretly.
So in the current news circus–particularly the round-the-clock “spinning of yarns” news channel CNN–the cry of “kill the messenger” screeched onto the television screens immediately upon the bomb-shell reading of the Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA following the attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11.
We may have been softened up or prepared for the report by the fictitious Jack Bauer. of 24 fame…who was on the television series the primary “interrogator” of enemies, and when he was forced to resort to torture techniques he “reluctantly” rose to the occasion and performed his talents for the good of the agency. Unfortunately, sometimes the people Jack Bauer was forced to torture were not always guilty of anything. Darn! Jack always felt appropriately bad when that happened.
So now there are the inevitable cries of “political propaganda,” and a scramble to soft-peddle or excuse terrible occurrences that we, as a nation under God, are not supposed to do. Shock and awe!
Hopefully the fall-out of this revelation of disaster will reach back into the time of the Central American wars…Nicaragua and El Salvador, and throughout South America. Iran-Contra is a good place to start. As a historian of Latin American History, the familiarities of our government involvement “down there” are understood. Of course then it was the Soviet Union that was the big enemy and any illicit activity was excused by Washington as “anti-Communism.”
The same loud voices against the “tattle-tales” who are revealing the information about torture in the new Senate report are from those who would be in the front lines denouncing such atrocities committed by leaders in other countries.
Killing the messenger is not productive. Sometimes telling the public what is really going on in our name is not anti-American or political propaganda–it’s just the right thing to do.