So let's get this out of the way up front: as you might have noticed, I haven't been writing as much about politics here lately, and it's my hope that I won't be writing as much about politics, or at least national politics, going forward. (This does look like it'll be a pretty interesting political year here in NYC, and I'm sure I'll want to opine a bit.) And it's almost pointless for me to write anything about the final night of George W. Bush's presidency or Barack Obama's pending inauguration. The former is the worst president of my lifetime, and in my view the worst and most destructive we've ever had; the latter is the first Democrat I've ever supported from the jump who even made it to the general election, let alone won. Not much suspense about what I'd say.
But I'll allow myself one quick point. Annie and I were making tomato sauce tonight and watching the Keith Olbermann show, which I've done maybe an average of once every two months the last few years: I mostly just wanted to see him do the happy dance for an hour. And, as Olbermann generally does, he went so far overboard that I found myself turned off from views I basically share--just not to that extreme. (See here, number 37. Read the whole thing, actually--it's the tits.) Olbermann closed his show with a "Special Comment" about the need to prosecute Bush administration officials who engaged in torture, and the various reasons why Obama should not be deterred by either the inevitable accusations of partisanship or the illusion of a clean slate.
Of all the misdeeds of the Bush administration, the embrace of torture as a matter of policy is the one I find most reprehensible. It seems fated that this choice will come back to hurt us as a country in ways we can't even imagine today, just as the overthrow of Iran's government in the 1950s begat the mullahcracy there now or the support and subsequent abandonment of the mujaheddin a quarter century ago helped pave the way for the Taliban and al Qaeda to do so much harm years afterward. The embrace of torture alienates our friends and hardens the resolve of our enemies. It will make the work of American soldiers and diplomats vastly more difficult for a very long time to come. And, as Olbermann correctly asserted, we all did it: we all must own it.