Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Mr. Question Person

As you know, I do not allow comments on my site. I've given my reasons for this before, and I stick by them, especially these days, when I'm deluged with all manner of baited mail. But this doesn't mean that, from time to time, I won't answer queries directed to me at other sites, and today happens to be one of those days.

A certain Steve B, commenting over at Jon Schwarz's Little Revolt, or whatever it's called, takes issue with my critique of Glenn Greenwald's recent Salon piece about the Dems. Says Steve B:

"What's your beef with Glenn Greenwald? The piece you link to, after all, was pointing out the Democrats' complicity in war and wiretapping, a point you've made yourself many times. No, he doesn't go to the root of the problem, but we all have different levels of understanding, and Glenn seems to be coming along nicely. Another year or two of this shit, and he might even become a Marxist.

"Is it that he gets all dewy-eyed about the Constitution? Not much harm in that. Appealing to an idea of what America should be rather than what it actually is has served many movements, from civil rights to gay rights, quite well. Myself, I try to strike a balance between cynicism and idealism - yes, the country is fucked up, but at its core, there are some good ideals, if we actually lived up to them, and appealing to those ideals seems to be one way of getting folks up off the couch and doing something."

Excellent, honest points. Let's go over them.

What's my beef with Greenwald? Well, I really don't have one, not in a serious, lasting sense, anyway. Yes, he slammed those Dems who helped Bush on the FISA vote, but his concern, as you rightly say, does not go to the problem's root. If Greenwald were right out of grad school, I would chalk this up to youthful naiveté: the kid has yet to get wet. But the guy looks close to middle-aged, and I doubt he started having political thoughts when he began blogging a few years ago. True, we all have different levels of understanding, but I'm sorry, at this late date and at Greenwald's age, scratching one's head over an utterly predictable, systemic vote is just not going to fly -- not with me, and I hope not with you, either. As I said in my post, liberals like Greenwald act shocked when the Dems do something that they've always done, namely, help screw tighter the political vise while enabling reactionary elements among ruling circles. This is the Dems' main purpose, and if someone supposedly fluent in law can't see it, then frankly, he's worthless as a political commentator.

You suggest that Greenwald "gets all dewy-eyed about the Constitution," and how this is a good thing. I don't know if Greenwald was writing political commentary during Bill Clinton's two administrations, but if he was, do you suppose he had the same concern for constitutional liberties then that he ostensibly has now? Recall that Clinton, primarily though the passage of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996, but also through his expansion of police state measures (explosion of SWAT and Delta teams and accelerated prison building), attack on habeas corpus, approval of roving wiretaps, among other forms of state control, set the table for what we're now seeing. Think FISA, or for that matter, the Patriot Act, came out of nowhere? That dismemberment of the Constitution is an exclusive Republican feature? Let's also throw in one of the most open violations of the Fourth Amendment, the federal assault and mass murder at Waco, an assault that many liberals still celebrate. Where was the dewy-eyed love of the Constitution then? Bill Clinton did more to undermine that supposedly sacred document than most other presidents before him, and allowed George W. Bush to build on that. And yet, Clinton remains a liberal hero.

If Greenwald protested all this in real time, then good for him. But based on what I read by him now, I seriously doubt that he raised much of a fuss. Very few liberals did. So, when leading libloggers like Greenwald acknowledge the systemic reasons for our awful condition, reasons that are pretty easy to look up, then perhaps I'll take his avowed concern for the Constitution more seriously. Until then, he's part of the problem.

Hope that answers your question!