I've mentioned before that, Fitzgerald notwithstanding, there are second acts in American political lives. Some people do it right — they come out and say "I was full of shit on this issue before. I was wrong. Now I've seen the light, and I'm prepared to try to right my wrongs." Take Bob Barr on the War on Drugs, for instance.
Sometimes, though, I find it impossible to swallow somebody's attempt at redemption. Take Reagan-era Attorney General Ed Meese. He's quoted extensively in this New York Times article about how thinkers on the Left and the Right are agreeing that the creeping federalization of criminal law is a problem.
Edwin Meese III, who was known as a fervent supporter of law and order as attorney general in the Reagan administration, now spends much of his time criticizing what he calls the astounding number and vagueness of federal criminal laws.
That's swell, Ed. But every time I hear your name, I think of this:
U.S News & World Report: You criticize the Miranda ruling, which gives suspects the right to have a lawyer present before police questioning. Shouldn't people, who may be innocent, have such protection?
Meese: Suspects who are innocent of a crime should. But the thing is, you don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect.
Take that, Wen Ho Lee and Richard Jewell!
Or I think about the Meese Report. Or about his efforts to ramp up the great War on Drugs.
Who am I to criticize? I could accuse me of such things, etc. etc. What irritates me about Meese is that he's not, as far as I can tell, doing what Barr did: he's not owning his past. Meese can have his conversion on the road to Damascus like anyone else. But bear and mind that Paul, after his conversion, owned up to having been a vigorous persecutor of Christians.
Would it kill Ed Meese to say "this over-federalization of crime has led me to realize that I have, for years, improvidently dismissed the and even scorned the procedural rights of suspects, and other hallmarks of the rule of law that is the foundation of our society"?
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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