Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I will give you something to fear.


It was painfully predictable from the start that the GOP would impede Obama's agenda no matter what he did, which is what made all those "post-partisan" proclamations nothing short of sad. Where is this vital GOP cooperation that would have been lost had Obama fulfilled his campaign pledges to "change" these Terrorism and civil liberties policies? It's almost as hard to find as the secret weapon Lindsey Graham possesses for single-handedly preventing the closure of Guantanamo if he's angry. Independently, Rahm Emanuel is the absolute last person who ought to be exerting influence over the Attorney General's decisions regarding where and how to try Terrorist suspects; remember when all Good Democrats agreed that Karl Rove's attempts to influence the DOJ was really bad because prosecutorial decisions are not supposed to be politicized?
I do remember when all Good Democrats -- and others of whatever party who bothered to understand, embrace, cherish, and defend our constitutional system -- agreed to that, and to various other binding, foundational principles. No more. It was a pretty nice constitutional arrangement we had so long as we had a critical mass of political figures and jurists with the courage and wisdom to uphold it, but two straight administrations, one Republican and the next Democratic, have thrown it out because, I gather, people are terrified that someone with a foreign-sounding name will set fire to his underwear, sneak a box-cutter onto a passenger plane, or stand trial within a day's drive of home.

Or perhaps they are merely pretending to be terrified, telegraphing it in public so as to validate those who feel it genuinely; it's never quite clear when we're only skating along the surfaces created by rapid news cycles and poll-driven politics. It doesn't matter -- whether genuine or fake, alarmism succeeds when cowardly fools are asked to reject it.

When candidate and then president Obama regularly declared that "we reject the false choice between our security and our ideals," he failed to add the qualifier -- but we grasp at security and drop our ideals if opinion polls favor it and/or a senator from a small state says boo.

Those who wrote and ratified the US Constitution clearly understood that the thing to fear is a legal and political system under which those in power reinvent the law in response to stunts, rhetoric, momentary exigencies, public sentiment, groundless perceptions, and other forms of ephemeral whimsy. No one is safe or free under the de facto constitutional system recent administrations have imposed.

No comments: