Friday, September 04, 2009

More Political Wisdom from Doug Wilson

The Obama saga continues. It does not look like he is going to be able to retrieve any kind of recognizable win out of the health care debacle, and thanks to God on that one. But because he is going to have to put some kind of happy face on whatever bill does get through Congress, he will have to say it is basically what he wanted. Because it isn't anything of the kind, this will alienate his base, which is on the hard left. In order to placate them, he will have to throw them some kind of bone, which is what Eric Holder's investigation of CIA interrogators appears to be. Couple this with his new HIG move (High Value Detainee Interrogation Group) which is not under the CIA, not under the FBI, and not under the Justice Department, it is beginning to look as though we might have established ourselves a torture czar.

Now don't get me wrong. Given the exigencies of the current debate, if we captured Osama tomorrow, the new HIG questioners, armed with feather dusters, might be able to find out what Osama's favorite color is. I don't think that Obama has established an office, behind the current closed doors of which we might imagine snarling OGPU agents, breathing things like, "Just let us at those town-hallers."

The genius of our founding fathers is that they knew how to think downstream. They knew what certain things would look like when they came to maturity. They knew what cute little baby tyrannies would do when they grew in size and tasted their first blood.

But before I get to that, one other comment. This one is not offered in a spirit of advocacy at all, but rather as a simple observation. In this paragraph, I have my pundit hat on. Given the structure of the American right, Obama surprised them all by being relatively moderate (in their terms) when it came to foreign policy. His radicalism came out in what he tried to do on the domestic front. With the stimulus bill, and then the health care thing, he mobilized the opposition, and he did so to quite a surprising extent. Because he did that, and will likely have to give way to them, he now needs to placate the left. But if he prosecutes CIA interrogators, "who kept us safe for eight years," he will do in foreign policy what he has already done in domestic policy, which is to alienate middle America. Obama tried to placate the left with a domestic policy initiative, to make up for his continuation of Bush foreign policy, and now that that has come a cropper, now he is going to try to placate them in foreign policy to make up for the domestic failure. But I think the same thing is going to happen to him again. He is going to blow his eyebrows off for the second time in ten minutes, just like Yosemite Sam.

But in the meantime, he is going to do a lot of damage to the nation, and so I would like to lay the full responsibility for this current mess at the feet of Bush/Cheney. In the aftermath of Holder's decision to investigate some of the CIA interrogators, Dick Cheney said that their administration had kept us safe for eight years, etc. But here is the problem with that argument. They didn't keep us safe.

They kept us safe from another attack from Osama, sure, but they did not protect us from Obama. They helped to sustain, create, or grow monstrous government mechanisms that are being used to destroy the nation, and all that was necessary for the destruction to begin in earnest was one election. The mechanisms of big government, which were not rejected or dismantled during the Bush years, were just sitting there, waiting (Ecc. 10:14). They were sitting there invitingly.

Obama has already done more damage to the economy than Osama did. Maybe not on purpose like Osama, but trillions down the drain are still trillions down the drain. And Obama was able to do this damage by doing the same sort of things that Bush/Cheney did, only on a grand scale. And he was able to do these things because Bush and Cheney helped establish in our minds that this kind of governmental swollenness is "just the way it has to be."

But here is a governmental rule of thumb. If you have to create mechanisms of coercion, which is a good, working definition of what civil government is, then you ought to do it not knowing beforehand whether the winners of the next three elections will be honorable or dishonorable men. This is what our founding fathers did. They assumed that American rulers were every bit as capable of being skunks and graspers as rulers throughout the rest of history had been, and they shaped the form of government accordingly. There is a proportional relationship (and a necessary one) between what a government can do for you, and what a government can do to you. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. Our modern big government "conservatives" are as muddled on this point as anyone, and it is long past time for us to stop listening to them.

Obama is able to do what he is doing because he is employing the same mechanisms that Republicans used to steer the ship of state the way they liked when they were in power. The Republicans like to steer us nor' by nor' east, while the Democrats want to just do nor' east. Gehh.

Left, right, and middle, our politicians express their "faith in the American people." We return the favor, expressing our basic faith in them (provided the "them" concerned belong to the "right" party). Which, given the facts on the ground, is a crazy thing to do. Jesus did not entrust Himself to men. Why should we (John 2:24-25)? Our particular liberal democracy needs to recognize that humanistic idolatry has us by the throat. We need to return to basic Christian worldview thinking in politics. Losing our faith in mere men is the first step.

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