I am going to take a short break from writing the Desirism wiki to address this request from the studio audience.
Would be interesting to see how you think the “moral compass” of the Obama administration stacks up to your criteria for judging the Bush administration.
The comment came as a follow-up to an article I wrote during the Bush Adminstration objecting to the fact that 31% Americans still supported an administration that had done so much evil. I argued that our nation's moral compass must be broken.
A fair question.
I want to premise my remarks by noting that the last President I actually admired was George Bush senior. I consider him to have been a committed public servant who was willing to take advice and to work with others for the benefit of the country.
I am quite impressed with the Obama administration, but it tells us that the moral compass of the American people themselves has not improved much, if at all.
He has had some difficult situations to work with. To illustrate the problem, imagine a case in which a villain has broken into a man’s home and taken him and his 10-year-old daughter hostage. He tells the man, “Either you have sex with your daughter while I watch, or I will take this small butane torch and slowly burn every inch of skin on your daughter’s body.”
We are assuming that the father cannot overpower the villain – that his choices are exactly those listed.
I cannot condemn the father who has sex with his daughter – even though it is a contemptible act under normal circumstances.
Obama tried to shut down Guantanamo Prison and give the prisoners there civil trials in the United States. That was remarkable and more than I actually hoped for. Unfortunately, the Congress prohibited all funding for this option, and a substantial portion of the American people sided with Congress. The Administration ultimately backed down, but even here asserted that they were right in principle.
The fault lies with a substantial portion of the American people have come to believe that the whole idea if a right to a fair trial is un-American. Real Americans prefer a presumption of guilt followed by a quick lynching. The lack of support the Administration got on this issue taught them an important lesson - supporting judicial rights in America is a waste of time.
This lesson applies to many of the injustices implemented by the Bush administration. I wrote, even before the 2008 election, that no Democrat would be able to repeal those laws. Attempting to do so would make him or her a one-term President, with the Republican replacement putting those laws right back in place the instant the President got into office. Furthermore, any successful terrorist attack under a Democratic president will guarantee a Republican President at the next election. These facts describe the context in which a Democratic President must operate.
If we want these laws removed – seriously – then what we have to do is to go the people and restore their respect for civil rights. As long as the American voters condemn a right to trial by jury as some sort of liberal sissy pandering to criminals, we cannot expect a sitting President to successfully push for a right to trial by jury.
As long as voters demand that a sitting President be willing to kill American citizens shown to be working for enemies of the country without a trial, then that is the type of President we will have. The only way to compare the moral character of a President is in terms of qualities other than those that the people themselves are demanding.
I hold in moral contempt those who condemn Obama because of the continuing of these policies. It is like holding the father in my example above in moral contempt for the rape of his daughter. Yes, it’s a horrible situation. Yes, something should be done to change it. However, the President is not all-powerful in this country. The voters are. These evils are not to be blamed on the President. They are to be blamed on the American voters – or, at least the those that support these policies (including those who claim to oppose them but who would refuse to vote for any President who “makes me feel safe”) and are willing to fight for them, and those who oppose these injustices but are unwilling to fight against them.
Another example of this misguided judgment comes from those who condemn the Obama administration for a law allowing the US. MIlitary to detain US citizens without a warrant. This provision was attached to a Defense Spending bill that Obama could not have vetoed. Coming right after the fiasco after the national debt, vetoing the bill would have taken a wrecking ball to the economy. I saw a lot of idiots blame Obama for this without even mentioning the names of those who endorsed this amendment. Democrats would eat their own young if the Republicans served them up with a good sauce.
On another point, after 3.5 years, I know of no major official in the Obama administration involved in any sort of political corruption. There is nothing at all like Cheney’s secret meetings with energy company executives in writing an energy law, or hundreds of billions of dollars of no-bid contracts that allowed cash to go straight from the Federal treasury and into the pockets of those corporate donors.
I could be suffering from confirmation bias – simply blocking from my mind any evidence that contradicts my hypothesis. I will leave it up to others to potentially identify some major scandal that I might have missed. “Fast and Furious” – the only major scandal I am aware of – provides some hints of incompetence but no hints of corruption.
On the fact that the government appears to be deadlocked, we have a situation where Group A is willing to go 75% of the way towards a compromise, while Group B refuses to go even 10% of the way. This leaves a more-than-15% gap that prevents any type of agreement. Yet, it is absolutely insane to say that both parties deserve equal blame for the deadlock. That's the message we get from the press that has abandoned sense for the illusion of fairness. What they call fair is not even, actually, fair. Is it fair to hold those willing to go 75% of the distance deserve equal blame for the lack of compromise?
Ultimately, I am an economic conservative. I think that the welfare of the people of the United States depends on getting an economic conservative in the White House. However, an economic conservative is NOT somebody who thinks that a corporate leader has a right to poison people for a profit. An economic conservative does not think that corporate executives must be kept in their multi-million dollar jobs and multi-million dollar houses while their fraud is the cause of regular people losing their home and their jobs. An economic conservative does not believe in an open and unregulated public warehouse but, instead, a warehouse regulated by a pricing system that prohibits the use of force, fraud, and deceptive manipulations such as “bundling” garbage loans together in such a way that they hide bad loans in a package with a AAA credit rating. All of those executives should be unemployed and homeless.
However, disagreeing with Obama on matters of policy is quite different from the moral corruption of the Bush administration.
I long for the day that economic conservatives in general will simply recoil at the filth that they are politically allied with.