Sunday, October 02, 2011

Demo Dissent

This isn't exactly a town that's famous for cars. Of course, there are plenty of old guys with too much money who sink it into antique vehicles which they rebuild and then show off at certain events. But that happens in lots of places.
Anyway, last week I noticed, parked a few blocks from our place, one of those Chrysler 300 cars, the kind I associate with "gangstas". This one seemed unique, in that it was painted dark purple, a color I came to appreciate back in high school, but had never seen on that model.
I knew my Sweetheart would have seen the car, and asked what she thought of it. This has been the start to many short conversations over the years. "What do you think of that color. You like it?" The response is almost always negative, because, for reasons I don't get, she usually just wears shades of black and white. Think I'm going to argue? No sir.
I don't recall every word she used in describing the car in question, but I'm pretty sure the word "pimp" came up. Maybe this was not its original color anyway, but I learned my lesson. No purple cars, Dude. For the record, I do own a purple necktie or two.

Before diving headlong into this week's subject, let's recall for a minute,....George Washington. Of course, Washington had no predecessor, but, much more than later presidents, he took the long view of the future. He knew that both things he did and, perhaps more importantly, didn't do would be regarded as precedents. Being someone who felt no need for heavy-handed government and with no personal goal beyond that of helping the new nation get off on the right foot, he governed carefully, deliberately and lightly, and was correct, in his time, to do so.
Other presidents have used power differently, not always successfully. The problem in being the first to do something is that your political opponents, when given the chance, might use your tactic against you or your allies. Nixon, for instance, was not the first president to use offices of the executive branch of government against his personal enemies, but he did it in such a ruthless manor that he caused public faith in American government to drop, perhaps never again to hit the high numbers enjoyed by Eisenhower or Kennedy.
So I'm not crazy about the reported assassination last week of the radical Muslim cleric, Mr al Awlaki. It's not that I will grieve over Mr. A's loss. The man was no angel, and given certain tools, might have found a way to do real harm to innocent people. I can't pretend that these guys are just movie stereotypes, or that they don't deserve plenty of attention devoted to stopping them.
But that's not the whole story, either. Mr. A. was born in this country. He was a US citizen. He hadn't been convicted of a crime, was not a prisoner, had had no judgments against him. He was killed pretty much on the say so of one man - the president.
And that last part makes me uncomfortable. It's not that I think Barack Obama is a cold-blooded thug, or that ruthless things can't be done during a war. Sending an unmanned drone after someone? I'm all for it IF it protects innocent people, and is aimed at aomeone who's not.
There's the politics, too. A Democratic president is under more pressure to whack a would-be enemy, lest someone from the other side (and, of course, they'll do this anyway) labels him as "soft on (name of whatever terrifies you)". But what about when the Republicans regain the White House? Would you trust Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry to only go after a real enemy?
And, sure, the cold war brought to death to people on both sides in large numbers, with totals that we'll probably never know. Does that mean it was right? All of it?
I'm normally with Obama on his decisions, and I expect I'll be with him more often than against him in the future. A president, as I have written before, makes so many decisions that they can't ALL be right. But the precedent concerns me. All I can say is that this is one time a Democrat has to dissent.


Post a Comment

<< Home