There’s an old Toby Keith song that numbers among my guiltiest pleasures. It begins:
Granpappy told my pappy, “Back in my day, suh-uhn,
A man had to answer for the wicked that he done.
They call a rope in Texas, find a tall old tree,
Round up all of them bad boys, hang ’em high in the street.”
For all the people to see.
That Justice is the one thing you should always find,
You gotta saddle up your boys, you gotta draw a hard line…
Has a sort of late Roman Republic ring to it, doesn’t it? Crucify ’em all, and line the Via Appia with their remains?
Catchy song, though — and it stands as an anthem to the conservative notion that Justice should be swift, brutal, and unburdened by a surfeit of procedural protections, pre- or post-conviction. Let’s see how that stacks up against the modern GOP’s anti-populist, neo-Lochner respect for corporate “liberty” above all:
Let’s be honest. The White House meeting with British Petroleum was a shakedown.
The White House threatened criminal prosecution of BP, the President gave a miserably received speech, then he hauled BP into the White House and put the Attorney General in the room with the CEO to stare at him, then the President demanded $20 billion.
It was a shakedown.
Poorly. RedState’s Erick Erickson continues:
Had British Petroleum affiliated with Al Qaeda and tried to blow up an airplane, it would have gotten due process rights, a court appointed lawyer, and miranda warning while avoiding Henry Waxman.
Obviously, this is an unfair characterization. The criminal presumption of innocence is a much stronger shield than the civil fact of, “I saw your company flout safety regulations, flood our shores with oil, and not do a damn thing about it.” And there’s nothing improper about threatening a company with prosecution for crimes and civil wrongs it did in fact commit. In fact, it’s the very definition of fairness: compensate our citizens and our country for what you did to us, or we will gut your company to the fullest extent of the law. The last caveat is key, but Erickson never even attempts to argue that BP hasn’t committed a wrong that would justify prosecution, to the tune of $20 billion or more (including legal fees).
Has the GOP so far abandoned populism, and a decent respect for the dignity of this nation and its people, that we’ll shed tears over the plight of a megacorporation, and not the citizens of the Gulf, whose lives will never be the same? Well, when John Boehner has to remind his ranks — unsuccessfully — not to appear “sympathetic” to the oil industry, yes. So much for “draw[ing] a hard line.”
How is this, too, not a homeland security issue?
For your, ah, enjoyment, Toby Keith & Willie Nelson’s music video, below the line: