masthead-highres

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Professor Bainbridge: I Dissent

It seems to me that Professor Bainbridge is failing to take something to account: Specifically, the degree to which political disputes and rivalries are becoming criminalized.

In other words, it is increasingly common in Washington now for lawmakers and others who disagree with someone to call for -- and obtain -- a criminal investigation of them.

Professor Brainbridge, a great blogger and one I read very often, nonetheless is a professor at UCLA and not (to my knowledge), particularly close to DC political circles (apologies to the Professor if I am wrong about this). As such, I assume he may not be aware of the extent to which this is happening. Few are. It is the nature of the beast. The minute an investigation starts, a target's lawyers immediately urge them not to talk to anyone -- and that includes telling the press and allies what one has been accused of, even if the charge is laughably bogus. By the time a subject has been cleared, the matter is old news. Plus, there is a natural reluctance to go public with the news that one ever was investigated in the first place.

When the House GOP caucus originally approved the rule saying a party leader should step down if indicted, I agreed with it. I no longer do. I've seen too much use of the criminal justice system as a political tool here over the last ten years, the vast majority of the cases never receiving media coverage. Keep in mind, too (as I suppose most of you don't know), that I've been running a DC think-tank for 22 years, so I have some basis for comparison. There are good, honest people in town you've never heard of (let alone the high profile targets) who could probably wallpaper a room with copies of subpoenas. And put their kids through college on the legal fees they've paid.

Is there corruption in Washington? You bet there is. Is it possible to become the target of a criminal probe just because of the position one holds on a public policy issue? Regrettably, this is true as well.

Wait 'till the blogosphere starts getting subpoenas -- and not just the big guys. I wish I didn't think it will happen, but I do.

With this in mind, do you think, fellow bloggers, that if you become a target, that you should give up your day job before the verdict comes in?

Addendum: Professor Bainbridge has kindly responded to my thoughts. I'll reply a little later today, after I think about how appropriate it would be for me to reveal some of what I've seen in this town over the last few years. And, maybe, if I take the time to write thoughtfully, I can make a stronger case.

Meanwhile, thank you, Glenn, for mentioning this discussion.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:12 AM

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