How to Bring them to Heel?

Gonzalez’s testimony this week really was breathaking. I’ve never quite seen anything like it. Eve Fairbanks has a good, if depressing, sketch of the proceedings here. She makes the point, accurate, I think, that with Gonazlez’s fuck-all attitude, he’s drained the drama from the whole show-down and thereby robbed the scandal of the fuel it needs to keep burning. I think that’s true, but it’s dangerous stuff. I keep coming back to a line Ezra Klein wrote a few weeks ago in which he called Bush the love-child of the Buddha and Machiavelli, totally liberated by his utter unpopularity. We’re in dangerous territory.

As Josh Marhsall put it yesterday:

Without going into all the specifics, I think we are now moving into a situation where the White House, on various fronts, is openly ignoring the constitution, acting as though not just the law but the constitution itself, which is the fundamental law from which all the statutes gain their force and legitimacy, doesn't apply to them.

If that is allowed to continue, the defiance will congeal into precedent. And the whole structure of our system of government will be permanently changed.

Whether because of prudence and pragmatism or mere intellectual inertia, I still have the same opinion on the big question: impeachment. But I think we’re moving on to dangerous ground right now, more so than some of us realize. And I’m less sure now under these circumstances that operating by rules of ‘normal politics’ is justifiable or acquits us of our duty to our country.

I share Josh’s jaundiced view of impeachment, but you wonder exactly how the opposition should proceed in the remaining 16 months of our long national nightmare. That’s a lot of time to do a lot of damage.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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