A reader writes:

I understand exactly how you feel on this and feel the same way. But, I want to express that I see the situation as being even worse than your dissenting reader states. A clear eyed assessment tells me that Obama/Holder are not only doing the right thing but the ONLY thing that can possibly avoid or at least lessen the consequences you are worried about. Not only when you say "betrayal" but when you say "pragmatism" you are under the very badly mistaken assumption that a political fight to hold Cheney responsible for war crimes is one that could be won but it's more convenient not to have. In my view you are simply dead wrong about this.

Imagine the consequences if they went after the war criminals and lost politically, legally or both. Look at the way Cheney and his flacks and lackey's have been chomping at the bit for this fight since Obama took office. Sure Liz Cheney says that Dick was worried about being prosecuted but why on earth would you believe anything she says? These are the "war is peace" people and everything they say is carefully worded strategic propaganda. Cheney wants a platform and a reason for all eyes to turn to him and listen to his mad ravings. Giving him and by extension the larger far-right that platform would be a very bad idea.

I came of age during the pre-FOX Reagan era watching with disbelief as the odious criminal Oliver North was turned into a hero. His crimes were of a lesser but still serious nature and were also quite stupid and incompetent. Nonetheless, in the popular imagination he ran circles around old-school, rule-of-law Republicans like Warren Rudman. Now look at how the right-wing media apparatus from FOX to talk radio has been able to convince a critical mass of people of bizarre untruths about something as clearly in their own interests as health care reform. What the heck do you really think would happen if that fight turned to what would appear to the average person as the best interests of foreign terrorists suspects?

The fact of the matter is that Cheney and his cadre would almost certainly win the fight, so they want to have it. Their "struggle to protect American from the terrorist supporting Obama administration" would be lionized every minute of every day and night on cable TV and the all those radio stations you pick up driving cross country. It wouldn't be a civil war it would be and egregious, populist slaughter with our constitutional order. We are "right" about this but the ideas are too abstract to work in the sound bytes that pass for political dialogue now. We would simply be crushed.

The only way to not lose this fight is to not have it on the populist terms that the war criminals want. The Obama administration has to untwist the the government functions that Cheney twisted quietly from the inside in such a manner to obscure it from FOX and their friends. Cheney needs to keep sounding like a crazy old man with no particularly good reason for his much publicized mad rants. He needs to go the way of MacArthur while Obama gets on with the business of running the government and fixing what Dick did.

When push comes to shove the mob almost always wins and they know it. We have a tall, skinny, constitutional lawyer who just happens to be one hell of a poker play on our side. Its not much but its all we got. Let's let him play his hand.

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