Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Justice empowered

Steven Calabresi and Thomas Sowell both have must-read pieces on the subject of Barack Obama's explicit views of judicial reform, namely:
[W]e need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.
Calabresi points out that such appointments would, then, have to be made on the condition that the given judge take his/her oath of office--i.e. to "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich"--with quantities of salt so vast that a war with Pakistan might very well be in order, if only for the control it would bring an Obama administration of the Khewra mines.

I couldn't help a terrible sinking feeling, however, when I read this (again, from Calabresi):
A whole generation of Americans has come of age since the nation experienced the bad judicial appointments and foolish economic and regulatory policy of the Johnson and Carter administrations. If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.
Alas, that Mr. Calabresi should conclude from this list of 'negative' outcomes that "Nothing less than the very idea of liberty and the rule of law are at stake in this election," is so utterly counter- intuitive in the common reckoning as to make it almost comical. There isn't an item here that even many conservatives don't think necessary and, ahem, just ends. To the extent that the law has failed to prosecute all this 'wickedness', it is proof of the inadequacy of the law, unenlightened apparently by "empathy".

What Mr. Calabresi misses is that bad judicial appointments and foolish economic policy are not the only things a whole generation of Americans has come of age during. Let us add, above all, the alchemical rationality that has somehow turned--in the common mind--all those eventualities from objective negatives (or, in one or two cases, reasonable intractables) to absolute positives, simply by employing the magic (indeed, the now sacred) word: progress.

Yes, indeed, the Obama supporters will say, liberty and the rule of law are at stake in this election. And to the extent that neither have been served perfectly in their current conception, then they must undergo change. Sorry, change.

The problem here, then, is not a lack of foresight on the part of the Obamamob, so much as it is the gaping absence in their understanding of human nature of the concept of limitations. Of the universality of fallibility. (This gaping absence not as a consequence of progress, of enlightenment--but of a savage regress, of demoralization.)

David Warren fairly nails it down thus:
In this climate, people tend to be maniacally opposed to the sin to which they are not tempted: to giving Christ control over the things that are Caesar's. But they are blind to the sin to which they are hugely tempted: giving Caesar control over the things that are Christ's.
Vengeance is Obama's; he will repay.