The president's advisers insist that, though their party controls Congress, the White House doesn't really have the ability to stop lawmakers from going down that path, only the ability to influence how they might do so. The broader question is what that distraction might do to the president's agenda -- driving, as it would, even bigger wedges between the parties in Congress.One who has dealt with that dilemma is Tom Korologos, a former U.S. ambassador who worked in the Ford White House on legislative relations. Mr. Ford, Mr. Korologos says, "smelled what could have been a horrendous Washington event" in a Nixon trial. He decided it would be better for the country to forgo that event.More than that, he adds, Mr. Ford concluded it would be better for his own agenda: "We were in the middle of an inflation fight. We were in the middle of a lot of international issues. It would have sucked the air out of a whole lot of goals he pursued."That is the danger Mr. Obama faces as well.
Dear Mr. Seib,
Perhaps if President Ford had allowed a trial to go forward instead of worrying about his political agenda and worrying about comforting an establishment that wanted the status quo protected then we might not be where we are today.
Maybe if President Bush and VP Cheney had seen a president hauled into court, just like any other citizen, then maybe they wouldn't have found it so easy to torture - maybe they would have thought twice about it.
Maybe now we need to rectify the mistake made by President Ford, in order to deter future executives from thinking that when the president does it, it's legal.
Blocking criminal investigations for political reasons is definitively corrupt -- period. That's true whether Democrats or Republicans do it.
Punishing politically powerful criminals is about vindicating the rule of law. Partisan and political considerations should play no role in it. It is opponents of investigations and prosecutions who are being driven by partisan allegiances and a desire to advance their political interests. By contrast, proponents of investigations are seeking to vindicate the most apolitical yet crucial principle of our system of government: that we are a nation of laws that cannot allow extremely serious crimes to be swept under the rug for political reasons. That's true no matter what is best for Obama's political goals and no matter how many Democrats end up being implicated -- ethically, politically or even legally -- by the crimes that were committed.