Seamans: Excess and accountability

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(HOST) President Obama is setting a new agenda for the nation, and veteran ABC News correspondent and commentator Bill Seamans is wondering if one particular item of old business will be included.  

(SEAMANS) It was an inauguration that will stand above most of the others since 1789, when George Washington was sworn-in as our first President.  And now our 44th President, Barack Hussein Obama, must make good his promise to repair the damage ascribed to the Bush regime.  

Frank Rich, the noted New York Times political observer, said in his column that "after eight years of battering by Bush, the nation has been rendered half-catatonic" therefore we the people have virtually given up complaining.  But some of those people emerging from their "catatonic" condition are asking "Where is the rage, the public outcry?" – will the Bush administration’s alleged wrongs be investigated and will the perpetrators be punished?  A Times editorial said, "You cannot fix something before you know exactly how it was broken."  

Meantime, a debate is growing over whether probing Bushism would be worth diverting Congressional energy from our crucial national  problems.  Democratic Representative Henry Waxman, known as "the scariest man in Washington"  because of his tireless investigations of the abuse of power surprisingly said, "I don’t see Congress pursuing it.  We’ve got to move on to other issues" – it would look too partisan.   But another Democratic Representative, John Conyers argues that we should not move forward "without documenting and correcting the presidential excesses that have just occurred."   

President Obama, when asked his opinion said, "I don’t believe that anybody is above the law – but we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards."  Now that statement sounds like Obama is straddling the issue but I expect he’ll get a push toward investigating from Dawn Johnsen, his nominee to head the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.  Johnsen is a law professor and former Clinton official who is a passionate critic of constitutional abuses.  She has said we must "resist Bush administration efforts to hide evidence of wrongdoing through demands for retroactive immunity, assertions of state privilege, and implausible claims that openness will empower terrorists – and she added – our country’s honor and our own cannot be restored without full disclosure."  Paul Krugman, the noted Nobel Prize winning New York Times pundit, summarized pro-investigation opinion when he said "If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again."  

Thus it’s evident that the question "Where is the rage, the public outcry" is simmering in the background and will bubble up more and more as President Obama settles into what has been called the most difficult job in the world.

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