Last time, we talked about the need to bring light to the festering skullduggeries that were rife, during the last eight years -- either through official malfeasance or private turpitude that was fostered and enabled by a general atmostmere of lawlessness. Many people are frothing for a time of comeuppance. For a fierce and ferociously determined version of this drive, see -- Justice after Bush:Prosecuting an outlaw administration, by Scott Horton, in Harpers. Nice to see folks out there who make me seem mild and moderate. forgiving.
Of course, much of the tone will be set by President Barack Obama. I have no private window to the President-Elect’s inner thoughts. Having discussed, last time, the curing benefits of light, let me admit that he might choose a different tack -- to quash some scandalous revelations about Bush era travesties.
One can picture the lowest of reasons -- in order to gain leverage with many of the top players in the New Aristocracy. Yes, BHO seems to have the smallest list of IOUs of anyone ever elected to the presidency. Still, he’s human and that means keeping a corner of our minds skeptical.
Or, perhaps, some members of his circle have already been suborned, either by direct corruption or by the kind of blackmail trap that I caution against in another place. (If I could grab the lapel of every single young idealist, now heading for Washington, and force them to read one thing, it would be this desperately urgent warning!)
Or else -- more likely -- Barack Obama may go to the opposite extreme, and justify downplaying the full extent of recent crimes, with the highminded purpose expressed by Frederick March, when he played President Lyman in Seven Days in May... preferring that the American people never learn how terribly they were betrayed, in order to maintain the beneficial illusion that we truly are a blessed nation, somehow above the dismal and fetid cesspools of corruption that spoiled Rome and so many other empires.
(Part of a 12/08 series of “unusual suggestions for America and the Obama Administration.)”
Indeed, we already have some evidence that this kind of thinking is at work. Certainly much more went on than the public ever knew, a couple of years ago, when a large number of generals and admirals must have staged some kind of work action or warning that forced George Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Robert Gates, as Secretary of Defense, prying immature fingers off the tiller of national survival.
Anybody else -- any other group -- would have blabbed or bragged afterward, but not the flag officers. Their subsequent stony silence over what happened may represent their loyal effort to preserve a sacred image... that of total and perpetual subservience to civilian authority. A supremely honorable, if frustratingly mysterious event, for which (if it really happened) we owe the officer corps, a lot. (See#9)
President Obama may decide to not to pursue Bush-era dirt, for some reason like that. And, if so, I suppose I can understand...
...but no. I am author of The Transparent Society. So which side of all of this do you expect me to come down on, in the end?
Judge Louis Brandeis said that “light is the best disinfectant.” It is also the one great advantage of an open society. People find it all too easy to come up with rationalizations not to step under the glare. It is a trap of human nature, and even decent leaders are tempted by secrecy. But there comes a point when sunshine becomes our only hope
Steady progress toward light is what makes us healthier, when all other forms of government shrivel under the naked sun.
--Continue to Truth and Reconciliation Addendum: How radical might it all get?