Thursday, June 05, 2008

Maverick Jettisons the Constitution

Some will remember that John McCain’s vaunted independence once included more than just a sneering disregard for conservative concerns and bullying impatience with opposition to the neo-liberal economic orthodoxy that is his path of least resistance to power--notably skepticism toward liberal intervention and nation-building. Those days are of course long gone, and the man's story thus far makes a pretty good case history of how the requirements of ambition gradually strip away the vestiges and substance of republican integrity. To quote one pseudonymous former associate: "This is not the man we knew and admired. Ambition is not a pretty sight."

The invaluable Glenn Greenwald has documented the rootinest, tootinest Arizonan's six month conversion from tepid opposition to the unitary executive to a position indistinguishable from the Addington/Yoo model placing the presidency above the law. Today's New York Times, moving at a more stately pace, has caught up, reporting on the Senator's now complete embrace of the unitary executive.
Barack Obama, whatever his flaws, represents a distinct choice here, offering opposition to outsized executive power consistent with both his liberalism and the Constitution that is, unlike the dubious personal narrative that is the unfortunate, fatuous basis of his appeal, authentic and principled. Of course, that scraping sound you hear is the Rovian beast sharpening its knives for the fall campaign, and constitutional fidelity may well prove to be political suicide (sadly for what it says about us as a people).

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