|Mitt Romney and Barack Obama|
The two major candidates for the U.S. presidency proved themselves to be world-class hypocrites in last night's debate on foreign policy.
Time and again, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney said our country needs to promote "civil societies" overseas, especially in hot spots such as the Middle East. Not once did the candidates mention that our own civil society is rotting at its core, mainly from a justice system that creates political prisoners and tolerates grotesque corruption in its courts.
As the campaign winds down toward election day on November 6, I don't recall either candidate making a single substantive statement on matters of justice. The silence comes as former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman sits in a Louisiana federal prison for his conviction on a "crime" that does not exist under the law. It comes as Mississippi attorney Paul Minor sits in a Pensacola federal prison for his conviction in a case where the trial judge gave jury instructions that are almost 180 degrees from what the actual law says. It comes after Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin, Cyril Wecht in Pennsylvania, and more than 100 public officials across the country--almost all Democrats--endured investigations or prosecutions that smelled of political motivations during the George W. Bush years.
And that does not even count the U.S. attorneys, all Republican appointees, who were fired in 2006 for refusing to engage in political prosecutions.
Do either Obama or Romney care about justice issues in the least? Based on Obama's inaction through four years, including the appointment of the moribund Eric Holder as attorney general, the answer for him clearly is no. And Romney has given no indication that he would do anything other than coddle financial and political criminals.
Perhaps worst of all, these candidates are so shallow on justice issues that they don't even recognize the irony in their own words.
Romney said it is important to establish the "rule of law" in the Muslim world. What about in the American world? Has Romney visited a court lately, in either a federal or state jurisdiction? Is he aware that hundreds of Americans are denied due process and equal protection of the law every day? Karl Rove, "the architect" of erosion in our justice system, is raising millions of dollars for Romney's campaign. Can we seriously expect that Romney, as president, would be serious about the rule of law on our shores?
Obama emphasized the importance of promoting opportunities for women in the Muslim world, correctly noting that those countries cannot move forward when half of their populations are held back. But what about women in the United States? Lori Siegelman and Dana Siegelman have seen their husband and father incarcerated on utterly bogus grounds. Paul Minor was not allowed a release from prison to even attend his wife's funeral. These prosecutions came under Bush, but the sickening aftermath has come on Obama's watch. If the president really believes in dignity and respect for women, his justice department has a funny way of showing it.
Perhaps the most ironic moment in last night's debate came about 32 minutes into the give and take. On the subject of America's role in the world, Obama said we can't hope to rebuild other countries if we don't address our weaknesses at home. He talked about the need to rebuild our own economy, strengthen our schools, develop clean energy.
All excellent points, but the president said nothing about the need--no, the necessity--for a justice system that upholds our constitution, that undergirds our belief in right and wrong.
Both presidential candidates seem to think we can move forward at home, and on the international stage, while our justice system rots at our feet.
On that, they are sadly mistaken.
How much damage has injustice heaped upon our society? The answer best can be found in a three-part documentary titled "The Political Prosecutions of Karl Rove," which was produced by Project Save Justice. You can check out all three parts of the 2009 documentary at the following link. The piece ends with a scroll of names, spotlighting public officials who were targeted during the Bush years. You've probably never heard of many of these people or their cases. But watching their names scroll past, and listening to some of their voices and those of their family members, is one of the most sobering moments ever captured on film: