If you want to know why Michael Barone belongs on the Olympus of punditry, read his latest, a column on the alacrity of many on the left, including leading Democrats, to prosecute Bush Admin officials:
It’s tough trying to please people who crave vengeance almost as much as Madame Defarge, the unsparing French revolutionary in Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities.” That’s what Barack Obama found out last week — and will find out next week and for weeks to come unless he settles once and for all that he will follow the practice of all his predecessors and not prosecute decision-makers in the previous administration.
The Madame Defarges of the Democratic left want to see the guillotine flash down and heads roll. Specifically, they want to see the prosecution or impeachment of officials who approved enhanced interrogation techniques — torture, in their view.
That sage columnist goes on to outline the details of the past week, with the President releasing the Bush Administration memos considering using enhanced interrogation techniques against terrorists as a means to learning their targets and so preventing future attacks.
First, the President said he opposed prosecuting the officials who wrote these memoranda, then changed his mind and said maybe they would be, then he changed his mind again and said, no, they wouldn’t be. Seems he realized he couldn’t appease some of his fellow Democrats out for blood, including the disremembering Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She wants to see heads roll.
Barone wonders why Madame Pelosi and her colleagues are so angry:
Whence cometh the fury of these people? I think it arises less from revulsion at interrogation techniques — who thinks that captured al-Qaida leaders should be treated politely and will then tell the full truth? — than it does from a desire to see George W. Bush and Bush administration officials publicly humiliated and repudiated. Just as Madame Defarge relished watching the condemned walk from the tumbrel to the guillotine, our contemporary Defarges want to see the people they hate condemned and destroyed.
Why do they hate so?
Why aren’t they willing, as David Harsanyi asks, to have an honest debate on torture? Why do they wish to use this debate not as a means to defining just how far we should go to protect innocent civilians, but to “getting” George W. Bush and his team? Why must they vilify their adversaries?
Perhaps, we might find that answer not just in listening to their rhetoric, but also by reading great authors like Dickens whose very stories offered insight into the human psyche. For what drove Madame Defarge may well also be driving our Madame Speaker, some deep-seated animosity towards one’s adversaries, political and otherwise.