Friday, April 17, 2009

The Perfect Excuse

Let Bygones Be Obamagones
President Obama is actively attacking an addling array of issues. The economy, the empire the environment and education loom large--and that's just the e's. But whatever progress he makes on these, I’m getting the feeling that he will be remembered for solving an even more basic human concern. I think Barack Obama, a lawyer and constitutional scholar, will rid us of crime.
Imagine a world without need for cops, courts or confinement because criminality has become passe, yesterday’s concern!
Imposssible, you skepticize. How could one counselor, even a cool one with that LA Law look, put an end to felonies, misdemeanors, violations and even mere infractions? By the Obama Doctrine, say I.
What’s the worst crime in the book? Making aggressive war on another nation, say the world’s lawgivers. What comes close? Torturing people for any reason. Culprits get shot and shut away for doing such things? Why? Because they resort to individual, subjective defenses. But what if they had a common and unarguable defense?
That’s what President Obama has given them. He has said of aggressive war and torture that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”
But isn’t that the one and only job of every prosecutor, judge and jury member in the world? Hasn’t every murder, rape, embezzlement and overtime parking offense occurred in the past?
Obama is on to something humongous here. His doctrine is even more brash than the rash Bush Doctrine, which, unbeknownst to Sarah Palin, held that any country could attack any other country that it felt might do it dirt on some future occasion.
The Bush Doctrine merely trashed the modern nation-state system born in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended 30 years of gore between bloodthirty papists and murderous protestants. War weary princes and priests got together and agreed to respect each other’s sovereignty. It didn’t always work, to be sure, but it was a useful rule until Bush treated it as so much stool.
The Obama canon is aimed not at the mere law of nations but at law itself. I can envisage the Albanian churl confessing to the hetman, Yes, I stole the chicken, but it’s already eaten and what is to be gained by regurgitating it? Or I can see the Mafioso admitting to the rub-out and adding, Why make a big deal of it, judge, he’s already fish food.
For all of its magnanimity, the Obama Doctrine has been intoned in a modest manner by its author. Now the question is how soon can it be universally acclaimed and applied? Advise us, Mr. President, when will we mere citizens be as free of our bad old deeds as the good old boys in Washington?