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What's the Big Deal?

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I understand that while I was uploading old photos onto Facebook, some joker was on All Things Considered, going on about how we can't afford to take the time or the money to investigate tortures committed by the Bush administration. Have to move on, I suppose. This is like deciding that it isn't worth while to find out why little Dickie hung the neighbor's cat by its ears from the clothesline, or why little Donny shot out the neighbor's windows with his twenty-two, because it's more important to make dinner or to watch Lost. Pretty soon, Dickie and Donny are stealing cars and tormenting nerdy kids out behind the gym at school, and then they get to be real criminals.

Because make no mistake about it, if we as a nation sweep the Bush crimes, committed both here and abroad, under the rug because we're too lazy or afraid or "poor" to investigate, our criminals will be back with bigger plans, and the fact that they got away with it this time will set the same sort of precedent that was set in the Reagan administration, when Cheney and Rumsfeld found out that if they could just get back into power, no one was going to stop them from doing whatever they felt like.

This is how Republicans operate. They want power and they take it if they get a chance. They either don't understand laws or they don't respect them, so those of us who want to live in a lawful, decent world have to make sure that they feel the weight of the law. Those gun-toters at the town-meetings demonstrate what I mean. Their plan is not to discuss universal healthcare, it's to demonstrate power. They don't want to inspire respect in the unarmed crowds, they want to inspire fear. And they don't inspire respect -- there are lots of comments on blogs about gun-toters, and a good portion of them comment on the size of the weapons a man packs relative to his natural endowment. But they do inspire fear -- in their Congressional representatives and in the other people at the town hall meetings.

Respect and fear are two different things. The thing about Republicans is that they don't care so much about respect, but they love fear, at least in others. So the rest of us have to communicate with them in a language that they understand, and until these torturers, especially those at the top, stand in the dock and look the law in the face, and know that they broke it and are going to be punished, they will not learn what they can and cannot do.

But, you say, our effort will be wasted. They'll get in their lawyers and their lobbyists and their apologists and roll us over once again. Maybe so. But I say even that is worth it, because we have to confront, once and for all, the question of whether this is a law-abiding nation or just another out-of-control oligarchy. The founding fathers would expect no less of us.