05-31-2011, 08:40 AM
A Slippery Slope |
I find all this quite frightening for a variety of reasons. Once the moral high ground is claimed, then legality is constructed as some sort of reactionary impediment in the way of egalitarian “fairness.” The process works geometrically: each time the federal government rules by fiat instead of following the law — for reasons of humanitarianism abroad, ecological responsibility, worker fairness, gay rights, or empathy for the alien — it becomes a little bolder the next time.
The Left simply disregards its former purported role as guardians of constitutional law, and grows quiet, again on the apparent logic that the rare progressive presidency is simply too precious a commodity to endanger by maintaining any consistent criticism in the manner it once went after the Bush administration.
Imagine the reaction of the New York Times, NPR, or a Senator Obama had a President Palin decided to bomb Iran off and on for 70 days without congressional consultation, or had she decided to throw open the U.S. border to any from Europe who could fly in, or had she violated union contracts to favor junior Wall Street creditors, or had she demanded that an Al Gore organization plop down several million in a contingency fund for the damage it had done oil workers by obstructing efforts of companies to gain oil leases.
Where does this end, this effort by Ivy League lawyers and civil libertarians to substitute supposedly enlightened progressivism for purported reactionary law? We easily and rightly condemn the crime when the Right tries to overthrow legality in the cases of a Franco, Hitler, Greek colonels, or Pinochet, who are easily identified as autocrats and dictators openly subverting constitutional government. But the assault from the Left is more insidious, given that the miscreants do it in self-declared high-minded fashion for “us.” I think here of the frightening trial of Socrates in ancient Athens, the ascendency of the Jacobins during the French Revolution, or Hugo Chavez’s thuggery in Venezuela — not coups as much as overdue punishment of “them.”
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