The holidays are a horrible time for bloggers. Capitol Hill is deserted as Congress goes into Christmas hibernation, our wallets blessedly safe for a few weeks. Moonbats and idiotarians alike are busy mending political fences back home while trying to squeeze that extra few hundred thousands bucks out of the special interests that will insure their political survival next November . The nation itself settles down for something of a long winter’s nap, looking forward to a week filled with family, parties, college football, and the inevitable overdose of nachos.
Even the MSM seems to be on its best behavior although this gaffe by the LA Times will be eagerly snarfed up by ravenous blog beasts across the political spectrum for its sheer goofiness. For some reason though, my blog was hungry for something else today and the story of a major metropolitan newspaper using in a front page story a quote from a press release put out as an April Fool’s joke just wasn’t going to sate the appetite my own personal demon of a website. After all, it can get pretty tiresome poking fun at an enterprise as clueless as the LA Times. I mean, how many times can you tell the same joke before it goes irretrievably stale?
So it’s after 6:00 AM and I haven’t started to write anything when to what my wondering eyes should appear but this gem from MSNBC’s Craig Crawford:
I have been watching dozens of back episodes of Fox Broadcasting’s “24” over the holidays, and so far I haven’t seen rogue U.S. anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer stop once for a court warrant—not even when he sawed off the head of an informant he was interrogating. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard the Constitution mentioned a single time as Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, repeatedly breaks the rules to thwart terrorist plots.(HT: Anklebiting Pundits).
This is how the President wants us to see the real world. Indeed, George Bush is the Jack Bauer of presidential power. There are no rules in Bush’s world when it comes to the War on Terror—only wimps like the whining bureaucrats on “24” balk at torture, spying, propaganda, whatever it takes.
I guess I am one of those constitutional wimps. Even the reality cop shows get me riled, as we watch the police routinely trample the individual rights of hapless suspects. Maybe we do live in a Jack Bauer world where constitutional liberties take a back seat to stopping killers. But I’d rather live in Patrick Henry’s world: Give me liberty or give me death.
I want to publicly thank Mr. Crawford for rescuing me from blog ennui. This kind of fresh, jaw-dropping idiocy is what makes writing for this site so much fun. And the fact that he used my favorite thug Jack Bauer as a sophomoric metaphor to describe the Bush presidency is so perfect, so right, that if Craig was here now I’d give him a great big wet kiss full on the mouth.
Well…maybe I’m not that grateful.
Taking the last part to begin, the first thing one notices about this piece is that Crawford is laughably ignorant of history. To reference “constitutional rights” and “Patrick Henry” in the same breath is, to put it mildly, loony. Henry, like most of the more radical patriots who were in the forefront of the movement for independence, became unreconstructed opponents of the Constitution during the ratification debate. They saw it as something of a counter-revolution, an overreaction to the weaknesses inherent in the Articles of Confederation. Not only that, the establishment of a strong chief executive as well as mandating a Supreme Court who could overrule Congress was an anathema to patriots like Henry.
This Constitution is said to have beautiful features; but when I come to examine these features, sir, they appear to me horribly frightful. Among other deformities, it has an awful squinting; it squints toward monarchy, and does not this raise indignation in the breast of every true American? Your president may easily become king. Your Senate is so imperfectly constructed that your dearest rights may be sacrificed to what may be a small minority; and a very small minority may continue for ever unchangeably this government, altho horridly defective.
The irony of Crawford’s intellectual conceits regarding “liberty” is unfortunately lost on someone whose knowledge of history apparently comes from watching episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle where Mr. Peabody and Sherman go back in time in their Wayback Machine to learn about the past.
But the meat of Mr. Crawford’s “critique” of the Bush presidency is his comparison of the world as seen by the President with the world in which Jack Bauer of “24” fame lives.
Would that it were true. In fact, we should be extremely fortunate if Jack Bauer was a real person working for a real agency like CTU (Counter terrorism Unit). But what is really interesting would be to ask Mr. Crawford if, during any of the scenarios in the history of the TV series that would, God forbid, come to life – nukes, assassination, power plant meltdowns, and bio-terror – he thinks the rest of us would prefer not to fully, completely, and to the letter respect the Constitutional rights of foreign terrorists and their American collaborators and sympathizers or die a horrible death and have the country destroyed.
This would be a no brainer – except for Mr. Crawford who evidently was stuck in the washroom when God was handing out that vital organ. Any of the terrorist scenarios that have played out on 24 would in real life necessitated the very actions that Jack Bauer and other law enforcement representatives took to prevent them. For, in real life, if the terrorists had been successful, the subsequent investigation that revealed a government and a President that followed Constitutional niceties while tens of thousands of Americans died, would have resulted in the immediate and justifiable impeachment of the President. And I daresay that the relatives and loved ones of the dead would not be quoting Patrick Henry in praise of the President’s Constitutional forbearance.
The reason liberals like Crawford are likely to get a great many of us killed if they are able to hoodwink the American people into giving them power again is their willingness to allow the terrorists to win rather than do what is necessary to protect us. This is perfectly summed up in Mr. Crawford’s little blurb. By quoting Patrick Henry, he is embracing the idea that he would rather die than bend the Constitution to the exigencies of the times. That way lies madness – and death.
Using the example of poor Abraham Lincoln in this debate is getting tiresome but one wonders if Lincoln had not placed government’s extraordinarily heavy hand on the rebellious border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri as well as other restless parts of the country whether he would have been victorious or not. Mr. Crawford is fortunate indeed not to have lived during those times. His writings may have landed him in jail.
As for Jack Bauer, Crawford misses the point. Jack is enormously conflicted by what he has to do to save the country. His methods have cost him the life of his wife. They have ruined his personal relationships as women recoil in horror after watching Jack in action. He has gone so far in so many critical situations that it seems as if at times he seeks the release that only death can bring.
In this letter I had published in The American Spectator, I pointed out the similarities between Jack and two other mythic American heroes; Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. Both Boone and Crockett were single minded in their determination to succeed and would do whatever it took to come out on top. But Jack has another dimension to his personality:
The myth of the hunter/hero gave way to the lone hero motif popularized by Hollywood. This hero, usually played by a small town sheriff (Gary Cooper in High Noon) or the gunfighter with a heart of gold (Alan Ladd in Shane), used violence to defeat greater violence. This concept was turned on its head in the 1960s and 1970s as the great ” anti-heroes” of Clint Eastwood blurred the distinction between good and evil. Dirty Harry got the job done (as did the Man with No-Name) but at what cost?
Enter Jack Bauer who’s not quite the Clint anti-hero but not the pure, small town Gary Cooperish protagonist either. He is, in fact, the perfect hero in a post-9/11 world. Torn as America is between getting the job done at all costs while upholding American ideals, Jack simply can’t help himself. He necessarily sees the world in stark relief, a black and white universe populated by some really nasty thugs who don’t even blink at the idea of murdering hundreds of thousands of people. We recoil at some of Jack’s tactics. But we recognize that Jack is the guy doing what needs to be done to keep us safe.
In one respect, Crawford is correct in his comparison of Jack with Bush; they are able to clearly distinguish between good and evil, between who is right in this war and who is wrong. Crawford and his ilk can’t. This makes Crawford not only someone to be laughed at but someone to be feared as well. For if we ever have a government headed by a President who sees gray where there is clearly black and white, the chances of enjoying both liberty and security in the United States will disappear as surely as Jack Bauer will end up stretching the Constitution to its breaking point this season in order to protect us from disaster.