On some level, they totally deserve it. After all, they have engaged in a purely political process over the serious issue of national security. So, it is pure karma, that the whole thing will wind up blowing up in their faces. So, get ready for a political civil war inside the Democratic party over how to proceed with the investigations into alleged torture by the Bush administration.
There are some simple political rules. One of the most simple is that the party that presents the more united front is the one that wins most political issues. Here, the Republicans win. The Republicans have circled the proverbial wagons. Even those that are against waterboarding and any other enhanced interrogations believe that any investigation now is not only wrong but compares to a "banana republic". Meanwhile, the Democratic party is struggling for a common narrative. Struggling most is the president himself.
There are at least three narratives coming from the Democratic party now. The most extreme is the so called "truth commission" championed by Pat Leahy. Then, there are those like Dianne Fienstein who want the Senate to continue its investigation. The president has endorsed the Department of Justice to investigate any potential crimes. Then, there are those that want 9/11 type bi partisan investigative body. Then, there is Joe Liberman who agrees with the Republicans. (there may be more like Liberman but they aren't talking yet)
So, what we have is all sorts of powerful Democrats all with their own agenda, and each of these agendas is playing out in the media. More than that, no one knows how far this will need to go. So far, the designated sacrificial lamb of the day of all Democrats is Judge Jay Bybee. Currently, he sits on the 9th circuit but he worked in the Office of Legal Counsel when this issue came up. He wrote several of the now published memos giving legal opinion for the legalization of waterboarding. While everyone agrees that Bybee must go, there is likely to be little agreement over just how far it will go. Those like Leahy and John Conyers who would like to take this all the way to the top. Once again, the opinions within the party will vary and their varying opinions will be displayed in all the media.
This was the sort of thing that happened to the Republican party on immigration. The Senate, lead by John McCain, favored comprehensive reform while the House favored more hardline enforcement first. This all played out in a bitter summer of 2006 debate that did no one in the party any favors in the next election. Now, the Democrats find themselves in a similar position.
What will play out over the next weeks or even months is high profile disagreements over the nature and scope of investigations of the Bush administration. The reason that such a disagreement is so corrosive is because it means the party won't have a coherent message. With this becoming a front page story, the party will be off message on a major story. The only redeeming part for the Democrats is that all of this is happening early in the election cycle. That can turn into a negative if all of this is still going on next November. Either way, we can all sit back, enjoy some popcorn, and get ready to watch the political civil war in the Democratic party.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"