I know all of us in Liberallandia are eagerly awaiting Abramonukkah, when America's Dirtiest Lobbyist That Anyone's Heard Of rats out everyone he dodgily paid off - but what I'm thinking about now is what happens next. Just how many Republicans is he going to finger, and how will they react? Will they resign in tearful disgrace a la "Duke" Cunningham? Will they serve out their term but decline to run for re-election? Or will they try to bluster and brazen it out like Tom DeLay?
Here's my thinking: That it will come down to two factors, which have nothing to do with character or principle (the fingerees will have neither). I believe that if they're in a state with a Republican governor, they will resign, or be quietly pressured to do so, so the Republican governor can appoint a less obviously tainted replacement to serve out their term and benefit from some sliver of incumbency in 2006. Otherwise, I think they'll either step aside for re-election or try to brazen it out, based on just how solidly and irrationally red they believe their state or district to be. Again, I suspect the Republican party might be whispering in some ears that now is the time for all dodgy men to take a dive for the party. Better an (apparently) untainted unknown than a name-brand criminal.
But regardless of the Republican strategy, if Abramonukkah produces mass indictments, it's going to weaken Republican election prospects terribly in 2006 and possibly 2008. Which brings me to my next thought: What would happen if a Democrat gets elected in 2008, and the imperial presidency has not been dismantled?
Naturally, the Republicans and their creatures would go into full froth about the evils of unchecked government power, and demand that those powers be pared back - for the good of the Republic, of course. So here's my thoroughly impractical, naive, and optimistic thought: The Democrats should graciously accede to these demands because, in point of fact, a super-powerful executive is bad for the Republic. But on one condition: that all the Republicans sign statements swearing their undying opposition to unchecked presidential power (especially in times of war, when it is most tempting), and vowing to either oppose it or resign (or at least not seek re-election), regardless of which party seeks to wield it. Hell, all the Democrats should sign them too, just for good measure.
Do I think any of them would actually abide by those statements? Not really, no. But it would raise the stakes of their hypocrisy, and give the Democrats something concrete to wave in their faces the next time they cravenly enable a power-mad Republican president. It would be concrete proof of their fundamental self-serving dishonesty, and carry more weight than recycled quotes (i.e., Republicans expressing opposition to Clinton's police action in Kosovo). Sure, they'd lie and spin about how the ability to arrest and detain someone indefinitely for "looking like a terrorist" isn't really an expansion of executive power, but I don't think too many people would buy it.
Of course, I can't really imagine this happening, but I'm desperate for some way to hold the Republicans accountable for their peekaboo principles. I'm sure there are lots of better ways, but I can't think of any, not when the media is solidly in the tank for the Republicans, and the blogosphere is barely a blip on most people's radar.