For the first time in nearly a decade, we have a chief executive who isn’t a raving coward.
And not a second too soon. President Obama made it clear on Tuesday that America is no longer in the business of selling-out the legacy of our Founders and the mandates of the Constitution for the sake of a little bit of extra security. From the president’s inaugural address:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. [...] Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
In short: the national security of the United States is no longer going to be conducted by raving cowards. Not anymore. Contrast those historic words against the viral cowardice — the frightened pee-pants dance of the men who somehow infiltrated our highest levels of political power:
“You have no civil liberties if you are dead.” –Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS
“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.” –Senator “Big John” Cornyn, R-TX
“Our civil liberties are worthless if we are dead! If you are dead and pushing up daisies, if you’re sucking dirt inside a casket, do you know what your civil liberties are worth? Zilch, zero, nada.” –Rush Limbaugh
Never mind that you can’t “suck dirt” if you’re dead, either. But we’ll let that one slide because it was a figure of speech, and because Limbaugh was probably stoned at the time and hallucinating a trio of dirt-sucking zombies named “Zilch”, “Zero” and “Nada” wandering through his studio in search of brains. Regardless of how the remarks came about, they fully exemplify the national security policy of the old crowd: the guiding theory that a frightened population will and should acquiesce to the slow dissolution of civil liberties in the face of ambiguous threats from faceless (and mostly brown-skinned) villains.
As we’ve all observed, the easiest solutions — the most “expedient” solutions, as the president underscored in his inaugural address on Tuesday, are the most despotic ones. One of the most disturbing trends of the Bush years was the pervasive willingness at all levels of American life to abandon not just our liberty, but also our national reputation, in exchange for the illusion of safety.