Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Unsupportable Commentary

by shamanic

I really respect Andrew Sullivan and read him throughout the day, but today he's got a bit of commentary that deserves to be called out.

In his post Haynes: "Take the Gloves Off", he discusses a recently-made-public memo from the trial of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh that suggests that Rumsfeld's office authorized interrogators to torture Lindh. (Full write up at TPMmuckraker)

Sully and I have basically the same position on many of the related issues: torture, executive overreach, America's moral strength, and so on, but I take issue with this statement in his post: "...it is a sign of American decline that the American people have simply accepted the end of their most basic liberty with a shrug of indifference."

Have we now? Because it seems to me that in 2006, people voted in a way that was anything but indifferent. The current anger towards the Congress has everything to do with the fact that a fed-up populace didn't send them to Washington to rubber stamp Bush's agenda, but nothing substantive has changed.
Bush hasn't been convincingly above 50% in polling since shortly after his second inaugural, and public approval of his presidency is scraping against constitutional crisis lows.

During Bush's tenure, millions of Americans have taken to the street to protest the very policies which provide cover for the imperial overreach: the war in Iraq and the post-9/11 belligerence that Sullivan--like a great many Americans--once rallied behind. But as recently as January, Sullivan dismissed those who protested the war as merely sporting a "reflexive hostility to American power, partisan hatred of Bush, and blindness toward Saddam's atrocities".

You don't get to have it both ways, Andrew. You can't simultaneously cite a supposed indifference as a sign of American decline and disdain those who are anything but indifferent. Would you have us burn our country to the ground in our anger? We have processes in this country that the great majority believes in and electoral mechanisms to make our voices heard. We have regular elections, and though many of us have grave concerns, we also have patience and faith in our system of government.

Is America at its strongest today? No. I stand by the idea, as you do, that Bush's regime has weakened us considerably. But in the age of Howard Dean, Barack Obama, MoveOn, the blogosphere, and the vast sums of small dollar contributions flowing from ordinary people, to say the public is indifferent to these infringements on our basic liberties is unsupportable.

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