Monday, January 09, 2006

First the Law, then Elections

It may be one thing for conservatives to argue that law and policy should be more conservative. It's quite another to basically contend that law itself is irrelevant, which is what many of Bush's backers in the intelligencia think.

Steve Gillard picked this up from Glenn Greenwald, who picked this pro-Bush screed up from Harvey Mansfield writing in the Weekly Standard:

Enemies, however, not merely violate but oppose the law. They oppose our law and want to replace it with theirs. To counter enemies, a republic must have and use force adequate to a greater threat than comes from criminals, who may be quite patriotic if not public-spirited, and have nothing against the law when applied to others besides themselves. But enemies, being extra-legal, need to be faced with extra-legal force. . . .

To confirm the extra-legal character of the presidency, the Constitution has him take an oath not to execute the laws but to execute the office of president, which is larger. . .

Yet the rule of law is not enough to run a government. Any set of standing rules is liable to encounter an emergency requiring an exception from the rule or an improvised response when no rule exists. In Machiavelli's terms, ordinary power needs to be supplemented or corrected by the extraordinary power of a prince, using wise discretion..

In rejecting monarchy because it was unsafe, republicans had forgotten that it might also be effective. With one person in charge we can have both secrecy and responsibility. Here we have the reason that American society, in imitation of American government, makes so much use of one-man rule. Much present-day thinking puts civil liberties and the rule of law to the fore and forgets to consider emergencies when liberties are dangerous and law does not apply.

Greenwald writes:

Just to recap: The President is "larger" than the law. The "rule of law is not enough to run a Government." We must remember that monarchy is "effective" and therefore, in times of "war" (like now), we must embrace "one-man rule." In sum, in emergencies like the one we have now and will have for the indefinite future, the "law does not apply."

I do not believe that very many Americans, once they are made aware that this is really what is being done, will accept it. I posted a little bit about the article here, but the article on its own makes the case better than anything anyone can add.

It's difficult to overstate just how bizarre things are getting. If the "law" can be set aside or overridden, "elections" probably can, too. That's the next thing, isn't it? Diebold machines may not be enough to comfort the angst of right-wing politicians intent on creating a new order from the ruins of the World Trade Center buildings.

1 comment:

The Rogue Progressive said...

Conservative pundit hivemind: "What? The President just ordered the arrest of everyone who rooted against Texas in the Rose Bowl? Well, there's plenty of perfectly good reasons that he can do this..."