Stampedes

Democratic Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton held a telephone conference call to announce his opposition to Social Security reform: “Dayton opposes Bush’s Social Security plan.” He should have been working from a slightly more articulate script than is reflected in this quote:

“Social Security is far too important … to be reduced to a political campaign or a rush to stampede Congress to a hasty decision,” Dayton told reporters on a conference call.

I wonder how long it will be before some Star Tribune columnist salutes Dayton for his courage in placing himself in harm’s way before the “rush to stampede” Social Security reform.
Today Dayton showed his courage by voting against the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. Last week he took to the floor of the senate to explain his opposition. The Star Tribune article on Dayton’s opposition to Gonzales quotes his concerns regarding the “stampede” in favor of the congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq war. Here is the Star Tribune report:

Dayton said Gonzales’ work as White House counsel created a climate that made it easier for the U.S. military to torture Iraqi prisoners. “The actions of both Secretary Rice and Judge Gonzales fall beneath the standards that I believe Minnesotans properly set for the conduct of their public officials,” Dayton, D-Minn., said in an interview.
As the Senate opened debate on the Gonzales nomination, Dayton said he’s opposing President Bush’s nominee because Gonzales, a one-time Texas Supreme Court justice, reinterpreted the law in such a way that allowed the president to ignore international treaties governing the treatment of prisoners. Last week Dayton accused Rice of lying to him and other members of Congress about the threat that Iraq posed in 2002…
“I believe that the lies of this administration to Congress and the American people, and the consequences of those lies…go far beyond what occurred by the previous president,” said Dayton. He added that Republicans “have a responsibility to not just automatically approve and defend and justify everything that’s being done by an administration that happens to be of their political party.”
Dayton said he has no regrets about using what he called “the L-word” to describe Rice.
“It’s usually couched more softly, but I used it very seriously for very serious reasons,” he said. He said the consequences of the administration’s “lies” were “stampeding Congress into passing a war resolution and the public into supporting the invasion of Iraq, which has cost over 1,400 American soldiers their lives and over 10,000 more to be wounded.”…
Dayton said that Gonzales created a climate in which “long-standing standards [of prisoner treatment] could be altered or even ignored on individuals’ discretion.” He said the Bush administration, with Gonzales as the White House lawyer, has had the attitude that it can reinterpret existing laws “to suit their purposes.”

The Star Tribune omits any mention of the inapplicability of the Genevea Convention to the Guantanamo detainees or the war against al Qaeda. Professor John Yoo and Robert Delahunty have a convenient summary of the applicable law in their San Francisco Chronicle column “Geneva Convention isn’t last word.” See also Andrew McCarthy’s NRO column on the testimony against Gonzales: “Fatuous.”
Dayton’s fear of stampedes is telling. He may be wary of an impending stampede to roust him from office next year. In “Profiles in disgrace” I detailed the shilling of Star Tribune columnists Nick Coleman and Doug Grow on behalf of Dayton. I’m concerned about the stampede at the Star Tribune to find “courage” in Mark Dayton’s zany words and deeds.

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