Principle vs. Politics

Obviously, I need to blog in the morning. Posting at 9 PM Friday seems to have knocked me out for Saturday; so I’ll put up something fast, in case Irene knocks out my power later.

Lately I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend among progressives. Some people have been hailing Obama for things they would normally have opposed, because it gives them a chance to put down the Republicans. Here are two examples:

  1. Libya. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen mocking the Republicans because they said the war was illegal. The basic argument is that the US-backed side won, Obama did it, many Republicans opposed it, so nyah-nyah, GOP! I’m sorry, but the war was illegal, in my opinion. The War Powers Act doesn’t say that the President needs Congressional approval “unless the US wins.” It says he needs Congressional approval, period. There’s a lot more to be said about Libya (were there really no US ‘boots on the ground,’ or were there actually hundreds of CIA agents involved? Will the result be democracy, or control of the Libyan oil fields by the big oil companies? Or maybe years of civil war, as in Iraq? Are we going to send in ‘peacekeeping’ forces now that the serious fighting may be over – and will that become another quagmire?) But that’s a topic for another day; all I am saying here is that the War Powers Act was, indeed, violated.
  2. Extending the “payroll tax holiday.” Currently, Obama supports this, and some Republicans are opposed, so some progressives are chastizing the GOP. But it’s a bad thing! It would be clearer if we called it by its name, “social security tax.” These are the funds that go into the Social Security trust fund (and related trust funds) to be used to pay out benefits. We actually need more money in these funds, not less. Bernie Sanders has filed a bill to put more money in, by extending the tax to those who make more than $250,000 a year. What we don’t need is to cut the revenue. This cut is going to come back to haunt us in a few years, when the right will point out that the trust fund is running low, so that there is a “crisis” in social security. (See my earlier post on this).

Don’t get me wrong, I hope that Obama gets re-elected. But I don’t think we should endorse bad policies just in order to help him do so.