Sunday, August 6, 2017

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence.
In a perfect and disinterested world, when Washington, D.C. is deluged in scandal, a nonpartisan investigator or prosecutor should survey the contemporary rotten landscape. He would then distinguish the likely guilty from the probably falsely accused—regardless of the political consequences at stake.
In the real cosmos of Washington, however, the majority party—the group that controls the House, Senate, presidency, and U.S. Supreme Court—if it were necessary, would de facto appoint the government’s own special investigatory team, and then allow it to follow where leads dictate. Its majority status would assure that there were no political opponents in control of the investigations, keen on turning an inquiry into a political circus. That cynical reality is known as normal D.C. politics.
But in contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry—a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.
Is naivet√© the cause of such laxity? Do Republicans unilaterally follow Munich rules because they hope such protocols will create a new “civility” and “bipartisan cooperation” in Washington?
If so, they are certain to be disappointed. Plus:
The salvation of both the Trump Administration and the Republican congressional fate in the 2018 elections is to reestablish political deterrence—accomplished by going on a full-fledged offensive against real, not merely perceived or alleged, political scandals. Only that way will the accusers feel the predicament of the accused, especially as there is real merit to Democratic liability in a way that charges of Trump collusion have largely proved a political fraud. Only when deterrence is achieved, will the Democrats be forced to concentrate on agendas, issues, laws, and messages, not on ambushing the president.
The Republicans should announce far more forcefully to the media that Vladimir Putin may have been funneling via shady third-parties millions of dollars to anti-fracking groups. Such collusion, if proven through investigation, really is treasonous—given that the crashing price of oil, brought about solely due to North American frackers, is about the only check on Putin’s ambitions that the West enjoys. So, to take one example, did the San Francisco-based, family-controlled, and hedge-funded Sea Change Foundation receive laundered Russian money to help enhance its anti-fracking messaging? If so, when, how, and who?
Secondly, Republicans should go full bore on the most explosive scandal of the age, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into the surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of American citizens by key members of the Obama Administration, likely done for perceived political advantages.
Rather than envisioning the ethical Devin Nunes as a liability to be controlled, the House leadership should see him as an asset to be encouraged to uncover inconvenient truths—especially given that progressives see the unprincipled Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as a resource in hiding a scandal. After all, what in the world was the self-righteous and self-described civil libertarian and humanitarian Samantha Power doing, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in allegedly reading, unmasking, and leaking intelligence reports on conservative private citizens during a national campaign?
What, indeed?

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