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The Two Best and One Worst Op-Eds of the Week

The Good: Writing for National Journal, Jonathan Rauch plays psychiatrist to himself, trying to analyze what's preventing him from developing this crush on Obama he's heard so much about: [I]t's these doubts, this hesitation. About Obama. A man I respect. … Read More

By / March 28, 2008

The Good:

Writing for National Journal, Jonathan Rauch plays psychiatrist to himself, trying to analyze what's preventing him from developing this crush on Obama he's heard so much about:

[I]t's these doubts, this hesitation. About Obama. A man I respect. Admire. I want to fall for him, love him as so many others do. But … I can't. I try, but I can't.

Ah. This is not so uncommon. Obama Resistance Complex. You have Barack blockage. You are afraid to love, to commit.

No, no. Some of my conservative friends think that Obamamania is a messianic cult. I don't. I understand the enthusiasm. I can't remember when I've seen a politician with as much promise. He is eloquent, charismatic, cool under fire. He's the best kind of intellectual: super-smart but not patronizing. He has taken political risks to show moral leadership. Who else would have stood at Martin Luther King's pulpit and condemned homophobia and anti-Semitism in the black community?

And wouldn't it be something to have a black president! Think of the bloody chapters in American history a President Obama could close. I want to believe. I go home, shut my eyes, and say, "Yes I can!"

But I can't.

Take a breath. Here, blow your nose. Now, try to tell me why you think you have these issues. Let it out.

In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan explains how Hillary Clinton's ridiculous fabrications of a Rambo-run through Bosnia, and even more embarrassing excuse for her prevarications (she blamed an 8-year-old girl for forcing her to keep her head up amid the threat of sniper fire), are fitting synecdoches of her campaign's schizophrenia:

What, really, is Mrs. Clinton doing? She is having the worst case of cognitive dissonance in the history of modern politics. She cannot come up with a credible, realistic path to the nomination. She can't trace the line from "this moment's difficulties" to "my triumphant end." But she cannot admit to herself that she can lose. Because Clintons don't lose. She can't figure out how to win, and she can't accept the idea of not winning. She cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have beaten her, quietly and silently, every day. (She cannot accept that she still doesn't know how he did it!)

She is concussed. But she is a scrapper, a fighter, and she's doing what she knows how to do: scrap and fight. Only harder. So that she ups the ante every day. She helped Ireland achieve peace. She tried to stop Nafta. She's been a leader for 35 years. She landed in Bosnia under siege and bravely dodged bullets. It was as if she'd watched the movie "Wag the Dog," with its fake footage of a terrified refugee woman running frantically from mortar fire, and found it not a cautionary tale about manipulation and politics, but an inspiration.

The Bad:

Disgraced ex-Justice Department lawyer and unindicted war criminal John Yoo — the brains behind the administration's operative constitutional theory according to which the president is an elected dictator above all laws and unaccountable to any branch of government, who engineered the administration's violations of the Geneva conventions and provided the legal framework for a wide ranging policy of torture and secret indefinite interrogation, who defends the proposition that the president has the inalienable right to crush the testicles of an innocent child if he deems it necessary for "national security" — takes to the Wall Street Journal to hector the Democrats for violating the democratic principles of the Constitution by… involving superdelegates in their presidential nomination.

According to Yoo:

[The framers of the Constitution] believed that letting Congress choose the president was a dreadful idea. Without direct election by the people, the Framers said that the executive would lose its independence and vigor and become a mere servant of the legislature.

How much idiocy is it possible to pack into two sentences? Yoo seems determined to find out. The Framers never provided for direct popular election of the president. At the Constitutional Convention, direct election of the president was proposed twice. It was defeated both times. The Framers were so enthusiastic about direct popular votes that they created an upper congressional chamber, the Senate, whose members were appointed by state legislatures. Senators were not elected until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. Today, the president is still not elected directly. State popular votes determine which slate of electors will be sent to the electoral college. Those electors are technically free to vote for whomever they choose. And the national popular vote winner doesn't automatically become president; otherwise the country would have been spared the constitutional wisdom of John Yoo.

On the other hand, the Framers were so worried about depriving the executive branch of its independence and making it subservient to Congress that they gave Congress primacy in the Constitution as well as the power to override presidential vetoes and impeach and remove the president from office.

And there you have it. The Bush administration selects only the best and brightest legal scholars (who believe that Article II of the Constitution grants the president the inherent authority to crush innocent children's testicles).

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