Saturday, October 2, 2010

Outpost from the Enthusiasm Gap

I don't speak for all liberals, much less for all Democrats, but I can say that my share of the so-called "enthusiasm gap" will not be closed by hectoring. Emotional states arise from circumstances and perceptions, not verbal demands to inhabit the emotional states. Worse, hectoring gives rise to annoyance, exasperation, and eventually anger, all of which are miles away from enthusiasm.

Here's a circumstances-based suggestion for Obama or any other politician seeking to increase my enthusiasm: follow the law as we thought it was before the Bush-Cheney junta ravaged it. Make the changes necessary to ensure that formerly sensible observers like Andrew Sullivan aren't drawn into the kind of embarrassing contortions that make it necessary for still sensible observers like Glenn Greenwald to set forth arguments like this:

As for Andrew [Sullivan]'s claim that Awlaki "has committed treason," I'll say this: he may or may not have. But we have this document called "the Constitution," and it makes as clear as can be that no President has the power to simply decree that someone is guilty of that crime. Right in Article III, Section 3, it explicitly makes clear what must be done if one is to be punished as a traitor:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
What possible justification exists for ignoring that Constitutional provision? Even if we are at war, there is, manifestly, no "war exception" to the Constitution. "War" is not, and never has been, a cognizable excuse for disregarding Constitutional guarantees -- at least not in a republic that still adheres to the rule of law.
As Greenwald says more than once in the larger piece from which this is quoted, this argument should not exist. It should not be necessary to debate whether the constitution ceases to apply when the president invokes words like war, terrorism, and treason. The constitution still applies, period.

It is a filthy and damnable disgrace that the rule of law has been debased so profoundly. The people who brought it about, and those who further it today, whatever their party, deserve the public's scorn. Beyond that they deserve a trial under law, and the penalties are, I am given to understand, severe, and rightly so.

Fuck hectoring. Follow the law or resign.

1 comment:

solarjinx said...

If I agreed any more with this than I already do, They'd grab me and lock me up in a secret prison somewhere. Do you, by chance, listen to The Young Turks podcast? I highly recommend it.