Monday, November 5, 2007

When Puppets get Puppity.

It was all kind of funny... Pakistan’s general gone mufti re-attached his shoulder boards, sacked n’ stacked his supreme court and suspended elections all -- he insisted -- in order to protect his eight year long “transition to democracy” against assorted terrorist threats.

Anticipating the anguished howl that indeed hit the heavens over Washington, Musharaff was ready with a bunch of handy quotes from Saint Lincoln.
“I would at this time, Musharraf said, “venture to read out an excerpt of President Abraham Lincoln, specially to all my listeners in the United States. As an idealist, Abraham Lincoln had one consuming passion during that time of crisis, and this was to preserve the Union… towards that end, he broke laws, he violated the Constitution, he usurped arbitrary power, he trampled individual liberties.
"His justification was necessity and explaining his sweeping violation of Constitutional limits he wrote in a letter in 1864, and I quote, ‘My oath to preserve the Constitution imposed on me the duty of preserving by every indispensable means that government, that Nation of which the Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the Nation and yet preserve the Constitution?’”
Musharraf went on to quote Lincoln, as political surgeon:
“By general law life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save life but a life is never wisely given to save a life.”
Mussolini couldn't have said it better.

Leaping forward, Musharraf took a page from President Nixon and groused about an “activist judiciary” that was bringing the nation to wrack and ruin.

What Musharraf most likely did not know was that somewhere between 25% to 33% of listeners in the United States still consider “the Original Gorilla” to have been a bloody tyrant. And with good reason. Lincoln subverted the rule of law and for much the same reasons invoked by all state idolaters .

In the 1864 letter from which Musharraf quoted, written but ten days before his assassination, Lincoln expressed his conviction that his oath to “preserve the constitution” was really an oath “to preserve that nation of which the Constitution was the organic law.” By that handy-dandy inversion Lincoln could justify violating the Constitution he had sworn not to violate.

The appeal to “the Nation” or “das Volk” or “the Motherland” is always the same. It is the Golden Calf for which tyrants everywhere justify their violation of law. And if laws can be overridden in order to protect the ultimate, supreme good of "the State"... who is a mere limb to complain when he is sacrificed on doctor's orders for the good of the All?

The difficulty with this appeal, at least in so far as the United States is concerned, is that “our nation” is indisputably the creature of the constitution -- not the other way around. Not only are we a nation of laws we are a nation born of constitutional law. Without that birth certificate there is no United States; and that is why the United States is the most quintessentially liberal country ever to have existed. It is the creature of contract.

Musharraf's uppity act was wilder still if it is borne in mind that he merely applied the same raison d’etat that the present administration itself uses to suspend constitutional liberties, and to do away with judicial review: “to protect the Uhmur’can People from turrurism.” The Pakistani leader hardly needed to have gone so far back as Lincoln. He could have quoted Imbecile's nominee for Attorney General, who just the week before informed the Senate that the president was not necessarily bound to observe the law if he determined he was defending the country.

And so, the Administration was reduced to howling an impotent protest against a puppet that was getting all strings tangled by doing what the puppet handler itself was doing with it other hand on another stage.

Damn! They just don’t make puppets like they used to.

©WCG, 2007

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