Payback: It Could Backfire [UPDATED]

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The WaPo reports that the Democrats, “increasingly confident they will seize control of the House in November,” are already planning “a legislative blitz during their first week in power” that includes not only a minimum-wage hike, homeland-security measures, and brakes on the deficit, but this:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week that a Democratic House would launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House’s first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, “You never know where it leads to.”

Now, besides the unwisdom of counting chickens before they’re hatched — especially for a party that’s laid so many rotten eggs in the recent past — telegraphing this blitz of partisan revenge seems like a really bad idea to me, both strategically and on principle.

Strategically, it will only confirm Republicans’ suspicions that not only their power but their very survival is at stake, and will turn this election into even more of a no-holds-barred steel-cage match than those Karl Rove is already notorious for running. You think you’ve seen dirt-digging and personal destruction? Just wait. There’s nothing a cornered beast won’t do to stay alive.

On principle, a sober assigning of accountability for mistakes and malfeasance may be important, but even if that was all the Dems were after (and it’s not), it would be far less urgent than finding a smart and sane way forward. The two parties are taking turns snatching the ball and whacking each other as the long shadows of real predators steal ominously across the playground.

cross-posted at AmbivaBlog

UPDATE: Callimachus concurs:

Accountability, yes, but not while the building is still burning.

Rather than spend the next two years picking over every clause and semi-colon of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, I’d spend it working to make Iraq better. To build on the success there, you have to admit that there is some. [ . . . ] Rather than crawling to European elites and the U.N. and begging forgiveness, I’d continue to build alliances with free peoples who are not afraid to stand up and fight, if pushed down, and to work for reform of international bodies, not submission to their current corrpution.

If there’s one thing worse than wherever we are now, it would be letting the next two years slip by while we do nothing but bicker about how we got here. [ . . . ]

And we all know there’s a huge chunk of the Democratic base that is completely fixated on Bush — the way some on the right were utterly rabid about Clinton eight years ago. Part of [Pelosi’s] job is to convince me these people won’t grab the tiller if the Democrats surge to power in November. I have no interest in electing a lynch mob.

Word. Listen up, Dems. And RTWT.

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