Moral Contradictions

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Play it straight

One of the lessons I'll learn in Dr. Cecil Sherman's "Life of a Pastor" class next spring is to play it straight. A pastor should love his people, be honest, and admit mistakes. Congregations will forgive mistakes, but they won't forgive lies and deception.

Obviously a pastor is different from President, but they're both leaders. The last two Administrations have had difficulty playing it straight - if Bill Clinton had simply admitted what he did was wrong, the country would've moved on. Yes, it would've been messy, but his dishonesty only dragged the country deeper into the mud.

President Bush's 37-some-odd reasons why we had to invade Iraq along with 1984-ish programs that dive into the unconstitutional realm are less than forth-coming, not to mention several other instances where a little more truth could've gone a long way and not jeopardized the President's efforts.

Under the leadership of folks like David Addington and Alberto Gonzales, the Administration is playing the end game, yet morality, conscience, and the Constitution seem to get in the way.

In regards to detainee rights, or lack thereof, according to last week's Newseek article titled "The Gitmo Fallout", the White House wanted to "'find the legal equivalent of outer space' - a "'lawless' universe". The executive branch was looking "to create a system where detainees would have no legal rights and U.S. courts would have no power to intervene."

I don't know about you, but when I sat down and read that article, as a patriotic American who happens to appreciate the separation of powers our forefathers worked so hard to establish, I just about spit out my Mountain Dew.

The beauty of our Constitution is that everyone is supposed to follow it - only then can it work. If our leader says "I had to ignore it in order to defend it", what good is it?

Look - do what you have to do to protect us yet can't reveal what you're doing, but do it in a legal way. Is that so hard to ask? The FISA court was created for this purpose, and if that didn't work, petition Congress for a new law. Heck, you convinced everybody to go to war in Iraq, you can probably get a new law passed pretty easily.

I guffawed, and then cringed, when I watched the exchange between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Alberto Gonzales over at Crooks and Liars. Feinstein caught Gonzales in a bind, because this President claims nearly absolute war powers, allowing him, in his mind, extra-Constitutional powers. Only, Gonzales is forced to admit that the Authorization for Military Force does not carry the full Constitutional weight of a declaration of war.

How convenient - President Bush declares our country is at war and that affords him nearly unlimited war powers, yet technically Congress hasn't declared war, so he is not bound by provisions in laws as FISA that specifically say 'when war is declared'. How clever - and how unethical.

I'm not comfortable with any Administration intentially seeking 'legal outer-space' to pursue its goals unchecked and without oversight by anyone. Does that make me a liberal?

Flip the coin. President Gore or President Kerry's head would be skewered on a stick for extra-legal maneuverings such as this.

Oh, right. President Bush talks to God, so we automatically give him a pass.


Play it straight - you can't have it both ways. Defend the Constitution, defend us, but don't compromise our governmental system and then claim to defend it.


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