“The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected”

Does Glenn Greenwald Ever Tell The Truth? is the caption to a post in response by the Republican blog Riehl World View, Wednesday, May 02, 2007 at 01:40 PM in Web Blogs . He states,

You can read Greenwald’s tripe, including his not surprising fixation on (a) Little Prince via link at top. I’ll cut to the chase and just give you the Opinion Journal piece honestly. Greenwald neglects to mention that the obvious impetus for Mansfield’s piece is the war in Iraq. Indirectly, he is mostly engendering intelligent discussion of the Constitution in and around the concept of War Powers and the interplay between the Executive and Legislative branches. Perhaps if Greenwald read anything other than The Little Prince and his own punishing-ly verbose work, he’d comprehend the item is expressly addressing the top issue in today’s news – the Iraq Supplemental debate.

Glenn Greenwal’ds post is here, The right’s explicit and candid rejection of “the rule of law”
and the OPJ piiece is here, The Case for the Strong Executive – Under some circumstances, the rule of law must yield to the need for energy.

Riehl writes “the obvious impetus for Mansfield’s piece is the war in Iraq”, yet Iraq is not mentioned in the article. Back to English 101 where we’re all taught to lay out the general supposition of our essays in the first paragraph and Mansfield does just that,

Complaints against the “imperial presidency” are back in vogue. With a view to President Bush, the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. expanded and reissued the book of the same name he wrote against Richard Nixon, and Bush critics have taken up the phrase in a chorus. In response John Yoo and Richard Posner (and others) have defended the war powers of the president.

This is not the first time that a strong executive has been attacked and defended, and it will not be the last. Our Constitution, as long as it continues, will suffer this debate–I would say, give rise to it, preside over and encourage it. Though I want to defend the strong executive, I mainly intend to step back from that defense to show why the debate between the strong executive and its adversary, the rule of law, is necessary, good and–under the Constitution–never-ending.

He has decided to tackle the power of the executive, and not just limit the debate to Iraq and the current funding battles and time lines. While those would count as examples of details under such a debate they are not the main “impetus”. So it is Riehl who is lying by either a simple failure of English comprehension or lying by malicious characterizations. The Riehl writes” Perhaps if Greenwald read anything other than The Little Prince…”. Discussing Mansfild’s essay without referencing The Little Prince would have been like writing a history of Lincoln without mentioning the Civil War. It is Mansfield that mentions it and it is Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli who has had such deep and lasting influence on Conservative thinking going back to Nixon and G. Gordon Liddy,

The best source of energy turns out to be the same as the best source of reason–one man. One man, or, to use Machiavelli’s expression, uno solo, will be the greatest source of energy if he regards it as necessary to maintaining his own rule. Such a person will have the greatest incentive to be watchful, and to be both cruel and merciful in correct contrast and proportion. We are talking about Machiavelli’s prince, the man whom in apparently unguarded moments he called a tyrant. (Mansfield)

Unlike Riehl who makes it sound like Mansfield is just having a nice healthy little discussion on some vague Constitutional princi0ples, Mansfield is most honestly advocating the absolute and unrestrained power of the presidency – oh sure a power that will only be as cruel and long lived as necessary, but who decides how long and neccassary that power will be? The president of course, as Glenn explains,

In that article, Mansfied claimed, among other things, that our “enemies, being extra-legal, need to be faced with extra-legal force”; that the “Office of President” is “larger than the law”; that “the rule of law is not enough to run a government”; that “ordinary power needs to be supplemented or corrected by the extraordinary power of a prince, using wise discretion”; that “with one person in charge we can have both secrecy and responsibility”; and most of all:

Much present-day thinking puts civil liberties and the rule of law to the fore and forgets to consider emergencies when liberties are dangerous and law does not apply.

“Law does not apply” — that is Mansfield’s belief, and the belief of the Bush movement. I didn’t think it was possible, but Mansfield, with today’s article in The Wall St. Journal, actually goes even further in advocating pure lawlessness and tyranny than he did in that remarkable Weekly Standard screed. He begins by describing “the debate between the strong executive and its adversary, the rule of law.” He then says: “In some circumstances I could see myself defending the rule of law,” but “the rule of law has two defects, each of which suggests the need for one-man rule.”

The rule of law has two defects, each of which suggests the need for one-man rule. That is what is on the Op-Ed page of The Wall St. Journal this morning. The article is then filled with one paragraph after the next paying homage to the need for a Great Leader who stomps on the rule of law when he chooses — literally:

The best source of energy turns out to be the same as the best source of reason–one man. One man, or, to use Machiavelli’s expression, uno solo, will be the greatest source of energy if he regards it as necessary to maintaining his own rule. Such a person will have the greatest incentive to be watchful, and to be both cruel and merciful in correct contrast and proportion. We are talking about Machiavelli’s prince, the man whom in apparently unguarded moments he called a tyrant. .

.

Mansfield’s piece is remarkable in timing also, following a recent essay by conservative Thomas Sowell

When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup. (Sowell)

Other extremists were even more explicit. Take, for example, the rightwing Macsmind blog:

  The veto won’t change the unchangeable such as Pelosi and Reid, both of which should have their citizenship stripped and sent to hang out with Chavez. On a better note send Pelosi to live with the Taliban, I give her five minutes tops before – well, you know

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Military style dictatorships with opposition party members being sent off to face some kind of physical horror and president as all powerful emperor – welcome to the world of modern Republicanism.

Buying the silence of the U.S. attorneys

Most notably, however, both McKay and Charlton say that Michael Elston, chief of staff to deputy attorney general Paul McNulty, tried to get them to keep silent about the circumstances of their firings. Charlton refers to a “quid pro quo”; McKay says he felt Elston was trying to “buy my silence.”

“The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected” – Justice William O. Douglas