Monday, November 3, 2008

more thoughts on The One

Voting will finish up today, and may present us with an American first: A president who has flouted the spirit of the law, proclaimed his intentions to undermine the Constitution and our notions of the law, and shown his disdain for the moral awareness that must undergird any genuine law.
First, all the lawbooks, judges and courts are useless if people aren’t willing to respect both the letter and the spirit of the law. One telling example of this is Obama’s ruthless switch on campaign-finance laws. For liberals have long bewailed the supposed evil influence of money in politics, and backed strict campaign-finance laws. Obama sang in the same choir — until it became clear he could raise far more money that the $84 million he could get from the federal system.
He opted out of that law as fast as he could. So he has raised $640 million. Sen. John McCain, who sponsored the key campaign-financing law, has stuck to the $84 million limit, and has been clobbered by a deluge of Obama ads.
Beyond that, moreover, Obama has shown his contempt for all that campaign finance laws tried to address. Legally, donors under $200 don’t have to be disclosed. Obama’s campaign has kept those donors’ names under wraps — and they have given at least $218 million. Think about it: Obama has gotten two-and-a-half times as much from secret donors as McCain has gotten in total.
It gets worse. Obama accepts donations from prepaid credit cards, so the real payers may never be known. Some of the names that have come to light are obviously phony, such as “Doodad Pro” or “Es Esh.”
What other laws will he hold in contempt once he takes the oath of office? For the above is not a fluke. He has made it plain that he cares little about keeping the legal system fair for all people. He’s clearly stated that if he gains the White House, he wants to name judges with “the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”
Many people seem to think that sounds good. But only when the laws are clear and firm are people are free, because they can act accordingly. When the law becomes pliable, however, they can no longer predict what the judges will say; they must therefore shuffle meekly into court, and beg their black-robed rules for mercy. Arbitrary rulings from the bench, no matter how well intended, enslave us all.
This attitude goes as far as our nation’s fundamentals. In a radio interview that has recently surfaced, Obama lamented the “tragedy” that even the liberal Supreme Court of the early 1960s stuck to the traditional notion that “the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted.”
First, it shows an utter ignorance of the power and rightfulness of “negative liberty.” For that is real liberty: having a sphere into which government can’t intrude. If there are things government must do for you, then there are things it can do to you.
For example, the First Amendment forbids the government from infringing on your freedom of speech. Consider, however, what might happen if President Obama appoints Supreme Court justices and federal judges who believe with him that the Constitution must say what the government must do for us. Will that require the government buy books and newspapers for you?
Maybe to some folks that sounds like a good deal. But beware: When the government buys, the government selects. Landing on front doorsteps each morning may be the Obama Times. Turn on the TV, and all the channels might be showing “Good Morning, America,” with its new hosts — Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank. Flip on the radio, and you might find that Rush Limbaugh has been replaced, permanently, by Joe Biden.
If this above is a bit satirical, history paints of much sadder picture of what happens when a government expropriates too much power.
More troubling than all that, however, are the signs that Obama lacks a fervent sense right and wrong are basic realities of the universe — that we are truly “endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.”
The most revealing act is that as an Illinois state senator he fought against legislation to protect babies who survived late-term abortions because he did not want to concede that living infants, outside their mothers’ wombs, were in fact “persons.” When an identical bill came up in the U.S. Senate, it passed 98-0. Even zealous liberals in the Senate couldn’t stomach the picture of babies born alive being allowed to die in a hospital. But Obama could.
A human being who won’t act to protect babies lacks something more important that the recall of statutes or the ability to recite flowery phrases. He lacks some basic sense of right and wrong — of the moral law that must support humanity.
In all these ways, Barack Obama has showed his disdain for the law on all levels. By tonight, he may be set to become, as Abraham Lincoln used to say, the chief magistrate of the United States; in a few months, he may take an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
That’s as disturbing as anything else that faces our nation in these troubled times.

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