For anyone who has been paying attention, one of the most striking political phenomena of the last six years has been the degree to which the Left, and over time the Democratic Party, has been swept away by a current of hate. The liberals’ animus has been directed largely, but by no means exclusively, at President Bush and his administration. Vast numbers of words have been consumed in trying to diagnose the reasons for this outburst of often-hysterical vitriol, but that topic is far beyond the scope of this post.
Many thought that the liberals’ venom would abate with the end of the Bush administration, especially since liberal Democrats now control all the levers of power in Washington. But that has not been the case. Instead, the Democrats’ base has howled for “investigations” of alleged Bush-era malfeasance. The party’s office-holders needed little encouragement; as Paul has noted, those who refer to President Obama being “pressured” by the left wing of his party fail to appreciate that Obama is the left wing of his party.
So we had the “torture” story–intended by the Democrats to be the torture scandal. The Democrats tried to vilify President Bush and his administration on the ground that they approved the waterboarding, and other relatively rough treatment–the dreaded caterpillar!–of a handful to top-level terrorists. It appears that the Democrats originally intended this agitation to lead to Congressional investigations and, perhaps, criminal prosecutions.
In addition to lacking any merit, the “torture” theme was always stupid from a political perspective, for a number of reasons: 1) the Bush administration’s aggressive efforts to root out terrorism were popular, not unpopular; 2) at the time, the Democrats’ leaders in Congress were fully on board with being tough on terrorists; 3) the Obama administration, notwithstanding its grandstanding on matters like Guantanamo Bay, has actually kept the bulk of the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies in place, and no doubt would be hard on terrorists, just like the Bush administration, if it was necessary to prevent an attack; and 4) by promising a kinder, gentler attitude toward terrorists, the Obama administration virtually guaranteed that it would be blamed, and bitterly so, in the event of a successful terrorist attack.
Which brings us to where we are now. The Democrats’ attack on the Bush administration, with respect to “torture,” has fizzled out. There will be no criminal investigation or prosecution; Nancy Pelosi is on the defensive due to a CIA leak of what everyone already knew, that she approved of waterboarding when she was on the House Intelligence Committee; polls show that most Americans approve of waterboarding, etc., and the Democrats are trying to forget the whole thing.
The public is left with two conclusions: 1) the Democrats’ main indictment of the Bush administration is that it was mean to terrorists, and 2) if terrorists pull off an attack between now and 2012, the kinder and gentler Obama administration will be to blame.
This is a terrible position for the Democrats to be in, and the wound is entirely self-inflicted. We’ve been waiting for a while for the Democrats to pay a price for their orgy of hatred, and it looks like they finally have.