Living through the Watergate scandals and the Constitutional crises they produced — and spending part of that time in Washington, D.C., working for the Senate — I got a wonderful view of how constitutional government works, why it is important that good people step up to make it work, and a glimpse of what happens when good people lay back and let the hooligans run amock.
Over the last three months it occurs to me that we may be living in a similar time, when great but latent threats to our Constitution and the rule of law may be halted or rolled back by one John Dean-like character who will stand up before a group of elected officials, swear to tell the truth, and then, in fact, tell the whole truth.
Teachers, are you taking advantages of these lessons in civics that come into our newspapers every day?
We live in interesting times, exciting times — we live in educational times.
You should be clipping news stories on these events, and you should be using them in your classrooms today, and saving them for the fall elections, for the January inauguration, for the new Congress . . . and for your future classes.
- Today, Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties issued a subpoena to get the truth from David S. Addington, an aide to Vice President Richard Cheney, and a key exponent of torturing captives for information. This is a man who has already confessed that he advocated the actions that brought shame on our nation — but he defendsd the advocacy as good for the nation.
The same subcommittee has already arranged to get testimony from former Attorney General John Ashcroft and John C. Yoo, a government attorney whose memos made torture a tool of U.S. foreign interventions.
- The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its series of stories documenting how the vice president had insinuated politics, perhaps illegally, into countless decisions of the bureaus whose fair operations are assumed by businesses and citizens as being necessary for the just execution of the nation’s laws.
- A second Pulitzer Prize came to the Post for its series of articles that alerted America that its government disrespected the men and women who fought for our nation and were seriously wounded, with sub-par health care.
What other opportunities for great civics lessons come to our doorsteps every day?