Saturday, August 20, 2016

Whatever Works Is Right

When a culture abandons objective morality in favor of subjective relativism they usually wind up as pragmatists. That is, whatever works to produce the desired ends is right. Achieving the ends justifies whatever means.

Thus the liberal media supinely gave Obama all the latitude he needed to attain the goals they all shared whatever damage it may have done to the Constitution and the principle of the rule of law.

This is the message implicit in a recent column by Victor Davis Hanson in which he highlights an article by Peter Beinhart in the New York Times in which Beinhart expresses his fear that a President Trump may behave in the same above-the-law fashion as did Barack Obama, but in the service of causes disagreeable to liberal/progressives.

In other words, it's not flouting the law that upsets the Peter Beinharts of the world, it's the end for which one abuses the law that gives progressives like him anxious moments.

Hanson notes how, now that the Obama presidency is coming to a close, progressive organs like the NYT are belatedly, and rather weakly, expressing misgivings about his roughshod trampling of the Constitution:
I and many others, long ago in the pre-Trump age, cited the quite dangerous trajectory of Obama’s constitutional overreach. That worry is now shared apparently by the New York Times. Suddenly in year eight, its editors fear that someday another president, perhaps one less sensitive, more uncouth than Obama, might find his exemplar useful, but for less exalted progressive purposes.

Thus the Times has characterized Obama’s overreach as “bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency.” And more ominously it notes, “But once Mr. Obama got the taste for it, he pursued his executive power without apology, and in ways that will shape the presidency for decades to come.”
One wonders where this fastidious concern for executive overreach was seven years ago. Hanson follows with an adumbration of some of the ways in which President Obama has placed himself above the law over the course of his tenure:
Long before the arrival of Donald Trump on the current election scene, many noted with alarm efforts to circumvent the Congress with Obama’s “pen and phone” executive orders and nullification of existing law — whether the executive-order amnesties and non-enforcement of the border that he had warned he could not do before his reelection, given that they would be the work of an autocrat, or his allowance of sanctuary cities’ Confederate-like nullification of existing federal law, or his arbitrary reelection-cycle, non-enforcement of elements of his own Affordable Care Act, or virtual rewriting of laws in federal bureaucracies such as the EPA, or the quite dangerous politicization of agencies such as Lois Lerner’s activity at the IRS or the Eric-Holder/Loretta Lynch Justice Department or his divisive Chavista braggadocio (“get in their faces,” “punish our enemies,” “bring a gun to a knife fight,” “you didn’t build that,” etc.).

Obama understandably grew confident that he could nullify or ignore existing federal law, on the assurance he was doing so on transformative grounds and thus would be largely exempt from press scrutiny. And he was largely proven right in his reliance on media collusion.
Because the media and others accepted the ends Mr. Obama strove to achieve by his actions they remained largely silent about his means. Now, faced with the possibility that a Donald Trump might employ similar means to achieve very different ends, the left is aghast at the prospect and are just now discovering that they really do hold to the principles of constitutional democracy and the rule of law after all.

There's a word for this, and it rhymes with "autocracy." Here's Hanson's conclusion:
In sum, violations of our constitutional freedoms could arrive in the form of a crude and blustering populist on the 2017 horizon; but far more worrisome is the fact that the dangers are already here, having arrived insidiously in the form of a suave constitutional-law lecturer, who assumed that because he was stamped as progressive, familiar, and one of the cultural elite, a liberal press would willingly overlook the means he employed to obtain their shared ends. The press corps need not worry that their freedoms will be taken away by Trump, given that for some time they have been only too happy to give them up.
There's much more good stuff at the link.