Political rudeness, continued

The Limbaugh prescription abuse allegation deal brings to mind yet another onslaught of abuse where propriety and responsibility and civility seem to be taking a back seat to political allegience and ideology.

This is the matter of prosecutorial zeal tainted by political behavior. On the current agenda of potential cases is DeLay, Libby, and Limbaugh.

The DeLay procesutor has a history of political behavior including dropping a case only when push came to shove and he had to explain to the judge he didn’t have a case. For DeLay, the process has thrown out indictments made for violating laws that didn’t exist at the time of the alleged crime among other prosecutorial errors. The struggle to maintain some semblance of sanity is on the part of the prosecution. The expense, of course, is on the defendant.

For Libby, it is a matter of tying perjury to a contradiction between witnesses when there is no clear evidence of any motivation for the crime. Again, most of the explaining in pre-trial processes has had to be done by the prosecution. The pattern is the same: the struggle to maintain some semblance of sanity is on the part of the prosecution and the expense is heavy on the defendant.

For Limbaugh, the judge told the prosecutor that browsing medical records was off limits. But the prosecutor did get his processing for mug shots of the perp. This, despite a deal that essentially sweeps the issue under the rug as a matter of financial expediency. Same pattern. prosecutor doesn’t want to look silly but the defendant pays the price.

The contrast and comparison often used to rationalize this behavior is the Clinton impeachment. That effort to rationalize current political prosecution tends to ignore the fact that federal employees generally get fired for harassment of interns and that perjury to hide such behavior is not just a matter of figuring out whose version is true. It is the contrasts that give light to the truth of the matter.

The legal system is not the only arena showing abuse of propriety and responsibility and civility. The judicial nominations process also has mudthrowers trying to figure out what they can make stick, no matter the reality.

And then there is question about why this should be a worry. What is the value of propriety, responsibility, and civility in public discourse? For that you have to contrast what happens where you don’t have it. And there are plenty of examples available to inspect that should provide a rational person good reason to worry.

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