Friday, April 24, 2009

Walk on - McGwire/Noonan edition

Not to keep beating on Peggy Noonan (oh, why not?), but her unconscionable remark of last Sunday about prosecution of those who condoned illegal torture ("Some things in life need to be mysterious. Sometimes you need to just keep walking. ... It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.") seems to engender ever more thoughts. I wrote some here, and Andrew Sullivan continues to follow up, this time by quoting Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings:
If most people tried to make the case that prosecuting their criminal acts was just "looking backwards", or a sign that the prosecutor was motivated by a desire for retribution, they'd be laughed out of court. Imagine the likely reaction if your average crack dealer were to urge the judge not to dwell on the past, or if someone who used accounting fraud to flip houses told offered a prosecutor the chance to be "very Mandelalike in the sense [of] saying let the past be the past and let us move into the future", or if I were pulled over for speeding and, when asked if I knew how fast I was going, replied that "Some things in life need to be mysterious ... Sometimes you need to just keep walking." I don't think any of us would get very far.
And I'm reminded of Mark McGwire, baseball player. He is, famously, the player who hit 583 home runs (with 70 in a single season) who, after retirement, testified in a Congressional hearing investigating steroids in baseball:
I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject.
That testimony made McGwire the poster boy for all that's wrong in sports today, and has made it highly unlikely that he will have a serious shot at the Baseball Hall of Fame in the near term. His attempt to erase the past was seen as evasion, and called all his accomplishments into question.

And, if the world were fair, we would do the same to Peggy Noonan. The contrast between her status as a journalist and her unwillingness to discover the truth of American-approved torture would be seen as disqualifying, and we would not only not grant her the honors she continues to receive, we would efface her from her role as leading light pundit. Her name should be just as much a joke as is that of Mark McGwire.

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