In a series of sessions in the main exhibit hall, the pervasive theme running through nearly every speaker’s contribution was how the Bush administration has perverted the entire American system of government to achieve an agenda that pre-existed Bush’s inauguration, and used tactics that are in stark opposition to the basic principles envisioned by our founders.
John Dean (left above) led off a discussion of the role of the president under the law by pointing out that the Republicans had a longstanding plan, dating back to the aftermath of the Nixon years, to seize every opportunity to move toward “monarchical” executive power.
Cass Sunstein (center above), introduced as a “short-lister” for a Supreme Court nomination under an Obama presidency, reminded us that the court is in need of “straightening the keel” back toward the left, and that the best way to keep it straight is to govern with the advice of a “team of rivals.”
Michael Waldman (right above) discussed the politicization of the justice department, with a drummed up focus on voter fraud that enabled him to uncork the quote of the day:
Firing US Attorneys for not prosecuting voter fraud is like firing park rangers for not finding Sasquatch!
This was followed in the next session, most appropriately, by a discussion with Don Siegelman (right, with Sam Seder), in which he laid out the circumstances of his false imprisonment on charges manufactured by associates of Karl Rove, and announced a new website, matching the unanimous crowd sentiment, ContemptforRove.com.
After lunch, Paul Krugman discussed how the mainstream media largely enabled the Republican strategies described earlier in the day, pointing out that columnists fall into two categories: the partisan conservative and the carefully even-handed (meaning they feel an obligation to criticize and praise the Bush administration in equal measure.)
In his most intriguing comment of the day, Krugman predicted both an Obama win in November, and the return of “the confrontational media” (such as we saw during the Clinton administration) “within about three months.” Since Krugman has been routinely “confrontational” to the Obama campaign throughout the primaries, I was dying to hear his view on whether he would feel compelled to provide balance by defending a new Obama administration against unreasonable attacks.