The lesson, of course, was not to allow financial institutions to grow like tumors until they depart the mortal realm and become “too big to fail.”
Or maybe more precisely, the lesson we should have learned is that to go ahead and let them grow as much as they want, as fast as they want. Let them take all the risks they want with money provided them by gullible and/or greedy investors. Then, when they get in trouble -- as they always do -- let the bastards fail. Doing so would deprive these losers of their final and most valuable tool of extortion.
I don't mention this in order to launch into another diatribe about the inequities of Washington's Wall Street/bank bailout. Rather I was musing over my morning (mourning) coffee about the similarities between the damage done by institutions consider “too big to fail,” and the constitutional/moral damage America faces now that we've apparently adopted another "too big" class -- those in this country who are “too big to jail.”
“...Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, made a pretty unequivocal statement that these lawyers should not be targeted...."Those who devised policy, he believes that they were -- should not be prosecuted either," Emanuel told ABC's George Stephanopolous.”So, it's come to this; to quote from the very lips of Richard Nixon, “If the President does it, it's not illegal.”
My, my, my.
But wait, there's more.
Among the crimes the previous administration is accused of committing is one that strikes at the very heart of our legal system – politicizing the Department of Justice. The White House told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who should be hired, who should be fired, who should be prosecuted and who should be left alone.
Those comments by the new White House Chief of Staff, coming as they did even though the stench of Bush administration corruption lingers at DOJ, shocks and saddens those of us who thought last November, we'd voted for “change we could finally believe in.”
Apparently not. Because, here again, was the White House speaking for the Department of Justice. No, they will not prosecute former Bush administration officials for authorizing torture, Emanuel said. Implicit in that unequivocal pronouncement was that they won't even investigate those alleged mega-crimes. This. not our top cop, the new Attorney General, but from the White House -- again.
As a former professor of constitutional law, President Obama should know that the White House is NOT supposed to meddle in DOJ's decisions over who, what, where or how to investigate alleged crimes. Period.
"You have to firewall politics out of the Department of Justice. Because once it gets in, people question every decision you make," the former U.S. Attorney from Arkansas, Bud Cummins, told the Los Angeles Times in March.”I know Barack graduated from Harvard, but there's also a pretty good law school over at Yale, as well. Apparently Yale's teachings on executive branch obligations under the constitution were a bit more precise:
“...there is something about the modern presidency that overwhelms the rule of law. That something is the White House staff, hundreds of bright and ambitious loyalists constantly struggling on the president’s behalf. This ongoing struggle has sometimes generated an “us against them” mentality that supported the repeated assaults on legality over the past generation...Eric Holder.. must take effective action to restore the professionalism of his badly demoralized department. He must insulate the department’s Office of Legal Counsel from political pressures..” (Restoring the Rule of Law to the White House ---- Bruce Ackerman. Yale Law School, Class of 1967)Nevertheless, we are where we are. And here's where we are: The concept of “too big to fail,” rather than of fixing the system, is simply feeding and keeping alive the very tumor-like institutions that landed us in fiscal intensive care to begin with. And that in turn simply sets the stage for another future round of taxpayer-funded chemo. (It's feels like being mugged then finding out the mugger bailed himself out jail on your credit card.)
But I guess we can live that. I mean, it might kill our 401ks but it won't kill us. Much more dangerous though than "too big to fail," is the creation of a class of individuals in America who are considered virtually untouchable, more equal than others, and therefore effectively “too big to jail.”
At least Nixon left one positive legacy. His rock-hard conservative credentials allowed him to open the door to Communist China. And history has recorded that deed.
Will history now record that it took a liberal Democrat, President Barack Obama, to close the door on 200 plush years of equal justice for all?
That ball is in your court, Barack.
P.S. Oh, and Eric Holder – here's a proposition for you to meditate upon as well; will you go down in history as another Alberto Gonzales? If so, at least you'll have the peace of mind knowing you too have transcended the mortal realm rendering yourself too big to jail.