Monday, September 03, 2012

Executive Decisions

Actor John Cusack interviews Jonathan Turley, a renowned constitutional scholar who I've always respected, for an extremely insightful, extremely sobering chat about the state of the Constitution under President Obama. If nothing else, it serves as a very important reminder that, for all the substantive policy differences between the two parties that this election may well hinge on, one area they're completely in lockstep on is in support of the truism of human nature that once a power is assumed, it's not easily given back. Here's a particular highlight that stuck out to me:
CUSACK: Obama is far more of an imperial president than Bush in many ways, wouldn't you say? 
TURLEY: Oh, President Obama has created an imperial presidency that would have made Richard Nixon blush. It is unbelievable. 
CUSACK: And to say these things, most of the liberal community or the progressive community would say, "Turley and Cusack have lost their minds. What do they want? They want Mitt Romney to come in?" 
TURLEY: The question is, "What has all of your relativistic voting and support done for you?" That is, certainly there are many people who believe – 
CUSACK: Well, some of the people will say the bread-and-butter issues, "I got healthcare coverage, I got expanded healthcare coverage." 
TURLEY: See, that's what I find really interesting. When I talk to people who support the administration, they usually agree with me that torture is a war crime and that the administration has blocked the investigation of alleged war crimes. 
Then I ask them, "Then, morally, are you comfortable with saying, 'I know the administration is concealing war crimes, but they're really good on healthcare?'" That is what it comes down to.
It's been a real spur in my spine how the executive overreach of the Bush era with stuff like the Patriot Act has continued unabated through the Obama presidency, and has only been exacerbated further with things like the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year, which in some ways is even worse. One thing I can't stand about our polarized political culture -- not helped when we have two, and only two, binary options to choose between -- is the "When my guy does it, it's okay" mentality. Wrong is wrong regardless of who's doing it, and this is wrong. Be sure to read the rest of the interview.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Halfway through this (long, long, long) interview. It's a good elucidation of one of my major issues with the administration.

I worked on the campaign, my first vote in a presidential election was for Obama. One of my major reasons for supporting him was that he promised to roll back some of the security-state measures of the previous eight years. In particular, given that a lot of these programs had little basis in enacted law, he could dismantle quite a bit of it simply through his normal executive power.

Didn't happen, and as Turley says, it's more formalized and concrete. Bush's programs were ad-hoc and could have been dismantled easily- but they weren't, they were reinforced.

I'll conclude with two different instances in which principle was raised. If you believe in a principle- that US citizens, or any foreign citizens, deserve the due process of law- it doesn't matter who the party of the president is. Even if you like Democratic domestic and social policy, you can't treat the executive security apparatus any different.

And then there's the issue of voting. I went through a long process for this election- starting with Occupy in September and October last year. The end result is that I simply cannot vote for Obama. The lesser of two evils argument may be true, but only in a limited sense.

"You cannot pretend that your vote does not constitute at least a tacit approval of the policies of the candidate."- Turley

If you come across a guy trying to steal a car, you don't help him because the guy across the street is trying to murder someone. You don't help either. You fight against them because they both advocate things you know are wrong.

I don't advocate abstaining from voting. Vote for a party that actually believes in principles that can undo the harm our government has caused. Or turn in a ballot without a vote for president. But remember, the whole issue with the lesser evil is that the lesser evil is, well, evil.

Anonymous said...

Halfway through this (long, long, long) interview. It's a good elucidation of one of my major issues with the administration.

I worked on the campaign, my first vote in a presidential election was for Obama. One of my major reasons for supporting him was that he promised to roll back some of the security-state measures of the previous eight years. In particular, given that a lot of these programs had little basis in enacted law, he could dismantle quite a bit of it simply through his normal executive power.

Didn't happen, and as Turley says, it's more formalized and concrete. Bush's programs were ad-hoc and could have been dismantled easily- but they weren't, they were reinforced.

I'll conclude with two different instances in which principle was raised. If you believe in a principle- that US citizens, or any foreign citizens, deserve the due process of law- it doesn't matter who the party of the president is. Even if you like Democratic domestic and social policy, you can't treat the executive security apparatus any different.

And then there's the issue of voting. I went through a long process for this election- starting with Occupy in September and October last year. The end result is that I simply cannot vote for Obama. The lesser of two evils argument may be true, but only in a limited sense.

"You cannot pretend that your vote does not constitute at least a tacit approval of the policies of the candidate."- Turley

If you come across a guy trying to steal a car, you don't help him because the guy across the street is trying to murder someone. You don't help either. You fight against them because they both advocate things you know are wrong.

I don't advocate abstaining from voting. Vote for a party that actually believes in principles that can undo the harm our government has caused. Or turn in a ballot without a vote for president. But remember, the whole issue with the lesser evil is that the lesser evil is, well, evil.

Zaki said...

Thanks so much for thoughtful post...for some reason it got marked as spam by the blogger filter and I didn't see it until just now. Hope you'll continue to comment!