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October 26, 2006

*sigh* the rule of law

This year the GOP mantra has been "the rule of law, the rule of law, the rule of law." People are expected, by the GOP, to abide strictly by the "rule of law" no matter their desperation or need (to which unjust laws have certainly contributed). But anyone watching Colorado's gubernatorial race has seen the contradiction in recent headlines.

GOP candidate Bob Beauprez' campaign is under FBI investigation for material in a campaign ad that could only have been accessed through a national law enforcement database by an authorized law enforcement officer for non-law enforcement purposes. Rather than supporting the rule of law over the informant, Beauprez has touted him as a courageous whistleblower.

You see, Bob wants it both ways. Here is a quote taken directly from his website -- in regard to "illegal immigration".

In fact, the rule of law--the idea that whether you are rich or poor, powerful or famous--you are subject to respect and abide by the law, just like everyone else (emphasis added). And the rule of law--that contract that we all enter into as citizens--is what distinguishes America from the rest of the world. If we send the message that the rule of law no longer matters in America, we risk losing the very essence of who we are as a nation, what has made us a beacon of hope to those that seek freedom throughout the world. Source: Bob Beauprez' official campaign website

Yet a recent Rocky Mountain News article shows us that Bob doesn't mean really mean everyone must "respect and abide by the law":

Bob Beauprez described the federal law enforcement agent suspected of leaking confidential FBI data to his gubernatorial campaign as a courageous "whistleblower," outraged by his Democratic opponent Bill Ritter's plea-bargains for immigrant offenders as Denver district attorney.

At a press conference today, Beauprez said the agent was justified in breaking the law to exposed Ritter's "obscenely lenient" practice of allowing immigrant drug traffickers to plead to felony trespass on farm land, which the congressman claims allowed them to avoid deportation.

"Our source, in my opinion, performed a great act of courage and public service in bringing this story to the public domain," Beauprez said.

The next day Mike Littwin had this absolutely brilliant commentary on the whole ugly scene:

In the shocking news development of the day: Apparently, it's OK with Bob "Black Hat" Beauprez if you break the law.


The man who would be your governor - the state's lawman-in-chief - says law-breaking is more than OK with him. It's fine with him. It's dandy with him. In fact, you can be his personal hero if you do it.

Not always, presumably. Not, say, if you're an "alien " - even a whistle-blowing "alien."

From what I was able to learn at Beauprez's please-stop-the-bleeding news conference Friday, to qualify as a heroic law-breaker, you have to be an American citizen and have a "belly-full." You have to be "fed up." It's the Alka-Seltzer defense.

And you have to come to his people with possibly illegally procured information - don't worry, no one at the Beauprez campaign will even ask - but only when the Beauprez campaign is 15 points down in the polls and especially desperate.

Well, Beauprez didn't say anything about being desperate Friday, although he could have.

He also didn't say he hopes Cory Voorhis, the ICE agent reportedly at the center of the investigation, broke the law in Denver, so at least he could plea down to ag trespass.

And he didn't say anything about moral relativism or how many other laws you can break heroically. And whether it's legal now for federal agents to torture you for it.

What he said instead was that it was all Bill Ritter's fault. Yes, Ritter's fault for exposing the fact that the Beauprez campaign may have come upon information illegally. (Follow the logic: Beauprez bashes Ritter for blowing the whistle on someone Beauprez claims heroically blew the whistle.)

It's strange, this sudden tolerance for lawbreaking, because Beauprez's entire campaign has been built around his contention that ex-DA Bill Ritter lives to put criminals back on the street - like someone, say, who illegally hacked into a federal database.

At the news conference, I asked Beauprez if he really thought that the guy was a hero if he broke the law to provide information for a political attack ad.

Q: "Do you still find him a hero whether he broke the law (or not)?"

A: "I think he did the right thing."

Even if the broke the law?

"I think he did the right thing."

Now, I'm not saying anyone broke the law. No one has been charged with anything. But I am saying Bill Owens put the CBI on the case, and the CBI brought in the FBI. And I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere the NSA is listening in.

And I'm saying there are heroes and there are heroes. And this guy got to be Beauprez's hero having a belly-full about a case that's three years old - which is a long time to nurse an upset stomach - and got that belly feeling better only by helping with a last-minute attack ad.

There are those who will accuse me of hypocrisy for hammering Beauprez. It's the press after all that loves to print leaked material and then insist on the right to protect sources.

I would protect a source. And like reporters I know, I might even go to jail to protect a source, although it's not, I admit, my first choice. I prefer accommodations with 24-hour room service.

I had to laugh, though, to hear Beauprez actually comparing himself to Judy Miller, who spent nearly three months in jail. Beauprez, by the way, has never mentioned the possibility of him actually doing any time.

Beauprez did, however, say the source might have to face the music. He also heroically put responsibility for meeting with the source onto his 28-year-old campaign manager, John Marshall, who may not see the humor two to five years from now.

I'm not sure how exactly you get to be heroic for disingenuously attacking plea bargains. Or for charging a 12-year DA with being soft on crime when everyone knows you become a prosecutor to put bad guys away. It's like accusing a firefighter of not wanting to put out fires.

It's a feeble attack, but it's the best Beauprez has. And, at the news conference, he says this controversy is really about revealing Ritter's "dirty little secret."

Here's the real dirty little secret: It's almost impossible for any Republican to be running 15 points behind against a Democrat with no legislative experience, who is himself running an unexciting, take-no-risks campaign that basically comes to this: I'm not Bob Beauprez and he is.

And, in case you had any doubts, here's the latest boffo ad from the Beauprez campaign: Beauprez is wearing, stunningly, a black hat. Wearing the black hat, he is standing on the wrong end of a horse, saying - and, remember, the ad appears just as this scandal has broken - "There's that smell again."

Hold your noses. Because there's something, finally, we can all agree on.

And now you know just what xenophobia smells like.

Posted by almamia at October 26, 2006 9:58 AM


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