Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election eve

In a few hours, barring another 2000 or 1876, we can all stop worrying whether John McCain has cancer or whether Barack Obama is going to surrender to al Quaeda. And of course even if your worst nightmare about either of these two men were true, the Republic would still survive and prosper. We have designed our Constitution so that the Executive branch is unitary, but surprisingly weak, and that's the way most people like it.

America in 2012 is probably going to look much the same whether President McCain or President Obama is running for reelection. They are both pretty smart, and our country is a big place that can mostly look out for itself.

But that doesn't mean that the character of the intervening four years aren't going to matter to us at the time. My greatest worry isn't that a President Obama would raise taxes or let Iran get the bomb or give his interesting Chicago associates government jobs. My worry is simply that he has demonstrated no respect for liberty, and has surrounded himself with people with no respect for dissent. Am I worried for nothing? Ah ...
  • At the end of the longest and most expensive election in history, his campaign takes time out to persecute a small businesswoman for expressing a dissenting opinion.
  • His operatives and allies go all out to publicly trash the reputation of a working-class Joe whose only crime was to ask Sen. Obama an unscripted question.
  • When Joe Wurzelbacher refused to repent his sins, his campaign illegally searched government records in an attempt to find dirt on him.
  • When Gov. Palin was nominated for Vice President, his prominent supporters claimed that her baby was actually her daughter's child. When it was revealed that this is impossible, since her daughter was herself pregnant, his prominent supporters launched on of the most vicious series of attacks in our nation's history on this innocent 17 year-old girl. (Even at the darkest moments of the 2000 election recount, could you have imagined that the liberal elite would ever countenance -- laugh at! -- vagina jokes about a Republican candidate's teenager daughter on network TV?)
    Sen. Obama has rightly distanced himself from these outrageous attacks on the baby and the teenager, but he hasn't publicly scolded or condemned Andrew Sullivan, Conan O'Brien any of the childrens' attackers by name.
  • His lawyers have threatened legal action against the NRA for running ads that disagree with his characterization of his positions. (If John McCain did this to NOW or ACORN, his own supporters would threaten to abandon him. For that matter, I'd like to think that if Al Gore tried to muzzle his critics with legal threats, his supporters would have abandoned him too. We just don't do this sort of thing in America, do we?)
  • In Missouri, Democratic Sheriffs threatened to arrest anyone who lies about Obama. (They later said that they had been misunderstood. Of course it was silly of the public to take them seriously. It's not like the power of arrest is anything to worry about nowadays, right?)
  • He's kicked journalists off of his campaign plane who come from papers who don't show any loyalty to him.
  • More generally, he seems to have a Nixonian ability to take simple criticism personally.
Summing up, my biggest worry is that the fawning personality cult around him goes considerable trouble to discredit and punish anyone who does not support him. Of course, he can't be blamed for what other people do, and good politicians are supposed to try to be popular. But, like Vladimir Putin, at the very least he does nothing to discourage his cult's excesses.

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