What Are They Thinking?

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM
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Looks like being Obama’s attorney general requires putting your manhood in a blind trust.

Let me just make one point on the politics of this decision, since politics is clearly what’s driving it. If the White House retreats from a civilian trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the others, not only is it terribly weak optics in the short run, but it cements in the public mind for the long term all the worst fears Republicans have not just been able to sow, but will continue to sow.

Think of the worst possible scenario for what would have happened to New York City, no matter how remote, then insert that into a campaign ad. There’s no way to disprove what might have been. Human nature will be to focus on the bullet that we supposedly dodged. Whereas if you actually suck it up and proceed with the trial, it takes all the wind of out that sail. People still go to work, buildings don’t fall down, the ground doesn’t open up and swallow Manhattan. Democrats show they’re strong and resolute and the issue goes away.

That’s the real politics of this. Not that it should be decided on the politics. But since the White House is already going there, let’s be honest that it’s a terrible political misjudgment, in addition to the layers and layers of damaging legal precedent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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