The ‘Liberal’ Belief in the Rule of Law

Excerpting a David Ignatius column (Washington Post, 1/15/09) that characterizes a strict Obama administration “focus on… getting things right in the future” as “the kind of realism that will disappoint liberal score-settlers,” Glenn Greenwald’s Salon commentary (1/15/09, ad-viewing required) describes how “the word ‘liberal’ has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last eight years”–at least among corporate pundits:

All that has been necessary to qualify is a belief in such radical, exotic and fringe-leftist concepts as search warrants before the government can eavesdrop on our communications; due process before the state can encage people for life; adherence to decades-old Geneva Conventions restrictions which post-World War II America led the way in implementing; and the need for an actual, imminent threat from another country before we bomb, invade, occupy and destroy it. Now added to the pantheon of “liberal” dogma is the shrill, ideological belief that high government officials must abide by our laws and should be treated like any other citizen when they break them.

Part of the reason Greenwald thinks that what Ignatius “does best” is “serve as the spokesman for the Washington establishment’s most conventional wisdom” is the columnist’s implication that “high political officials (and our most powerful industries, such as the telecoms) should be able to break numerous laws (i.e.: commit felonies), openly admit that they’ve done so, and then be immunized from all consequences.”

See Ignatius’ starring role in the FAIR publication Extra! Update: “Old Media’s Election Centrism: It’s Not Their Party and They’ll Cry if They Want To” (12/06) by Jim Naureckas