My column on torture is up today. My opening point is about the Republican Party's rather inconsistent interest in the principle of holding members of the executive branch accountable for violations of the law. I refer to a couple of Wall Street Journal editorials, quoting the key passages, but the contrast is so amazing that it's really worth reading both in full. I'm not sure whether or not they're available without a subscription, so I'll post a couple excerpts.
Here's the Journal in January of 2001:
Mr. Clinton will leave office in a few weeks, but his campaign for exoneration is in full swing--in the face of history and in the face of an ongoing inquiry by Independent Counsel Robert Ray. Mr. Ray says he will move swiftly in deciding whether to seek an indictment for perjury in the Lewinsky matter after the President leaves office.
Mr. Clinton will soon be a former President and as such his fate somehow involves us all. It's hard not to have some sympathy with the sentiments the elder George Bush expressed when asked on ABC's "This Week" about the possibility of a Clinton indictment: "I don't want something bad to happen. He's been through a lot. The country's been through a lot. Let's heal and forget."
But as demonstrated in his Esquire remarks above, and elsewhere, Mr. Clinton is making magnanimity anything but easy. He is manifestly guilty of perjury in his Paula Jones testimony, but even today clings to the "what the meaning of 'is' is" defense. So consider Mr. Ray's dilemma: If he should decide to give the President a pass in terms of a larger public interest, the President will surely then claim his preposterous defense was vindicated, that he was the victim. This continuing corruption of our national discourse certainly serves no larger public interest. ...
President Clinton, impeached by the House of Representatives, now bids history to find that he had a little trouble in his personal life but did nothing wrong with or in the office of President. With tainted campaign finance figure Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton associate, installed as Democratic National Committee chairman and scandal-plagued Washington insider Harold Ickes masterminding Hillary Clinton's New York d