Politics

05.22.13

Message to Bill Keller's Psychiatrist

It's a hearty competition out there for most insane thing ever written by an educated person (and I understand that some of you might nominate me), but as of last night we have a new, thundering, hands-down winner in Bill Keller of The Times, who actually appears to have written the following words:

Republicans are howling for President Obama to name a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party groups. The president should call their bluff.

The president should announce that he has told the Justice Department to appoint an independent investigator with bulldog instincts and bipartisan credibility. The list of candidates could start with Kenneth Starr, who chased down the scandals, real and imagined, of the Clinton presidency.

As an idea, this doesn't rise to the level of deserving a serious parsing. Did Starr's actions in 1998 really suggest to Keller than he can an impartial and reasonable prosecutor? He was so drunk with prosecutorial power that he shouldn't have been allowed to drive.

Beyond Starr, the idea of Obama appointing a special prosecutor is absurd. I don't care if he appointed Al Sharpton. There's just no evidence here on IRS or Benghazi that anything rises remotely to that level. All this would do would be to set in motion a series of pseudo-events that would lead ineluctably to an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Maybe that's what Keller wants. If so, he ought simply to say so. But I doubt that's what he wants. He seems to be more liberal than not, but he's one of those liberals, as the old jokes goes, who won't take his own side in an argument.

If you are reading this, Bill Keller's psychiatrist, I implore you to work this through with him. He needs your help in a major way. He was obviously scarred as a youngster by some seminal event that made him think that Democrats must engage in constant self-scrutiny and doubt while Republicans should just swashbuckle their arrant way through life (Keller was a major liberal hawk, supporting the Iraq war).

There are a lot of those types around. But Obama should give Ken Starr power? That's not self-scrutiny. That's self-proctology.