Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time to grow up...

You know what the Bush administration reminds me of?

I just saw an article where Bush said that he considers his commutation of Libby's sentence to be "fair and balanced", and it made me think of this scene I heard attributed to Al Franken. Apparently he (or "a friend" - I don't remember the story, and it didn't rank high enough on Google to be worth pursuing) was talking to some Christian preachers. They were talking about moral beliefs and generally getting along great. Somewhere along the line, it seems appropriate to point out that Jews follow much of the same ideals as Christians... they just don't believe Jesus was the messiah[1].

The room went silent and there was an angry energy crackling.

"You callin' Jesus a liar?" one of them demanded.

That kind of reasoning, where a difference of opinion is turned into a mean-spirited insult, is awfully useful if you like to bamboozle (or to be crude, "bullshit") people. Suddenly, you've taken the real issue off the table, and substituted another one where you can be Righteously Outraged. Instead of asking "Isn't it unethical to grant a commutation to someone who was in your own administration? I mean, that easily looks like you were giving someone like Libby a license to break the law!" the President's supporters can now ask "are you calling him unfair and unjust? How dare you!"

And it works so well, in so many places.

"Are you saying the President would lie to get this country into a war? Hasn't he told you that it's hard work, and that he agonized over the decision, and all that?" And for anyone who is wavering, well, geez... it's scary as hell to think that the person in charge of the world's most powerful military would use it in such a blatantly and obviously foolish manner.

"Are you saying that the President *wants* to spy on ordinary people? He's looking for terrorists, that's why he violated FISA! I'm sick of you Bush Derangement Syndrome whackos always acting like he's some kind of evil, oppresive Hitler-wannabe!"

It reminds me of my kid brother. One day, he was late coming home to my grandmother's house. She was scolding him, and he said, in an exasperated voice, "Grandma, how do you expect a little boy like me to know how to tell time?" He knew how to tell time, of course... but he'd realized that he'd come up with a reasonable sounding (to him!) excuse. So he was late getting home; it's not like it was his fault! How can you act like he did this intentionally?

There's just one problem. My brother didn't campaign to be elected "Mrs. Palmer's youngest son", with all the responsibilities of a young child. He didn't have millions of loyal Republicans insist that he was up to the task. He wasn't praised for his strength of character in standing up for what he believed in, when he insisted that what he did was not wrong.

And, of course, my brother was very young at the time. He was expected to do such things from time to time, and get punished for them, and learn to do better next time. The President, on the other hand, is supposed to be a responsible adult.

[1] Per prophecy, the messiah was to bring an end to war and a time of peace and justice. There wasn't anything in the prophecy of a "second coming" when he'd do that. This is important to mention because it raises honest, legitimate questions about whether Jesus was the messiah or not. Obviously, a lot of Christians are not "taught the controversy", because this isn't about unfalsifiable claims about earth's creation, but about biblical teaching.

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