Friday, December 10, 2004

The War On Checks and Balances

Democrats are desperately in search of a narrative, everyone seems to agree. Okay, well, here's the story I think we should be telling about the Republicans. (It has the particular advantage of being true.)

It's the oldest story in government: they want power, and they'll do anything to get it. They hate checks and balances. They hate accountability. They hate the rule of law, because it stands between them and more power. They want to destroy any institution they can't control.

Hence all the meaningless garbage about "activist judges"--the judiciary has power over the President, and they can't stand it. Hence "tort reform"--juries are not under their control, so their power must be limited. Hence their interest in destroying Senate procedural rules like the filibuster--anything that can check executive power is a threat. Hence their loathing for universities and intellectuals--universities teach students to question the beliefs of those in power. Hence their weird triumphalism over the Dan Rather scandal, and their bizarre insistence that the whole media is against them.

And, in today's news, hence their vehement opposition to the international rule of law. The U.N. and the international legal structure which the US fought so hard to build only works if the US follows the rules it advocates. For the right, this idea is poison. Even if the rules clearly benefit us (like the Geneva Conventions, which protect our soldiers), they are rules, so they have to go.

This is why we hear lawmakers like Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), laser beams shooting from their eyes as they swat helicopters away from their scaly snouts, saying things like:

"To me the question should not be whether Kofi Annan should be in charge. To me the larger question is whether he should be in jail at this point in time."

You can hear the pain in his voice, can't you? It hurts him, to have to say these things about Kofi Annan. Either that, or the amphetamines are wearing off.

Over at the National Review ("Barking Mad, Feeling Good"), Andrew McCarthy is stirred to righteous anger by the Red Cross' daring to suggest, in private meetings with US officials, that the US shouldn't be abusing prisoners at Guantanamo.
It is high time for the American people to ask: Just what is international law? Is it a body of obligations, rooted in the principles of consent and comity, that provides sovereign nations with a path toward avoiding provocation and bloodshed? Or is it a subversion by which foreign entities and their activist nongovernmental organizations trump democratic choices and sovereign self-determination?

Guess which one he thinks it is. Hint: after finishing his article, you may find yourself worrying that international human rights organizations are trying to poison our food supply.

Presumably it's this kind of brilliant work that leaves Michelle Malkin so outraged that Andrew McCarthy is not a candidate in Legal Affairs magazine's on-line poll, asking people to select the greatest living legal thinkers. Inexplicably, Malkin does not seem outraged that they omitted Bozo the Clown, a legal thinker of comparable distinction.

You know why? Because Bozo, like all funny people, represents a potential threat to Republican power. Humor is the last, best weapon of the little people against power that takes itself too seriously.

Watch out, clown, your day will come.