Last week I wrote to tell you how proud I was that my state’s Senator was standing up to George Bush in defense of the Geneva Conventions. That was an easy letter to compose, written in a glow of pride. This week, I’m having a much harder time finding the words to explain just how deeply disappointed and disillusioned I am now. I’m heartbroken and still having trouble believing that my country’s Congress has passed a law leaving torture up to the President’s discretion and eliminating habeas corpus for detainees. Our Constitution is *not* a guideline, though the current adminstration appears to regard it in that light; it is intended to be the bedrock upon which we build our country. I hope the Supreme Court will agree with me and strike this law down, though given the recent change in the Court’s makeup my hopes are not high.
There’s not even the usual excuse. Generally, one can say, “Well, we’ll leave the matter to the President’s discretion. We elect good people so certainly no American President would condone torture,” while another might argue that the rule of law is necessary on the slight chance that we do get someone in office who is less trustworthy. But right now we *have* someone in office who has shown no sense of the common humanity of those who are not just like himself, who has proven time after time that he will choose expediency over principle, and who appears to be living in such craven fear that he lashes out at perceived enemies without ever stopping to check whether they are indeed the ones providing the menace he fears.
If we can’t rely on Congress to protect our government from sinking to the level of our enemies, and to protect our people from a branch of our government that seems to be running amok, then where is our hope for the future?
I know it’s not the first time the reed of McCain’s integrity has blown in the winds of party politics, but this is the most disturbing. I did not expect, ever, to be living in an America that failed to pay attention to principles dating back not only to our own Constitution but even to the Magna Carta. I may be out of the country until after the 2008 election, but that most of the people I care about will stlll be here. Also, the US still has enough influence that if it falls away from its own principles, other countries adherence to their own may be weakened just that much.
I have a new theory, that Bush learned all his civics and politics from Schoolhouse Rock. In general I’m a big fan of SR, but if you take its words literally and don’t learn anything more about its topics, the results can be distressingly familiar. For example:
“And they put those principles down on
paper and called it the Constitution, and
it’s been helping us run our country ever
Is that not the President’s view in a nutshell? That the Constitution, far from being the bedrock principles on which all our laws rely, merely “helps us run our country”. And then there’s Elbow Room, the one on Manifest Destiny:
But if there should ever come a time
When we’re crowded up together, I’m
Sure we’ll find some elbow room…up on the moon!
Or as it was less catchily put in the recent Air Force Space Command Strategic Master Plan:
- ‘Ensure the ability to apply space forces when and where we need them and that our adversary understands the advantage we possess.’
- ‘Use our space capabilities at our discretion while at the same time denying our adversaries access to space assets at their disposal.’
Pity he seems to have paid less attention to the one on energy. (Did you hear they’re shutting down the EPA library? Without running the idea behind Congress or making any plans or budgetary allotments to digitize its holdings? True.)