Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More pandering

Obama is probably politically smart enough to be saying what he's saying. Just be teflon and you beat McCain. Don't give them any easy issues till November.

The problem is, folks like me who were sick of the populist pandering from folks like Edwards & Clinton found in Obama someone willing to speak truth to power. Seems that's true, unless the power is the unwashed American masses. In which case he goes all blue collar meat head and endorses the death penalty.

If he doesn't, of course, the Republicans can semi-legitimately say "Obama loves baby rapers" and that sure won't win him the women's vote. I was just hoping for one of his clear explanations of why a subtle distinction is important. Something like:
Of course we all feel a natural desire to take swift and terrible vengeance on anyone who'd do something so awful to a child, especially if it were our own child. But this is why we have the rule of law in our country: To protect the weak from the powerful. And mobs of people out for revenge, out to do violence, are certainly powerful. Sometimes they're right, but sometimes they're wrong.

And this is why we have a system to dispense justice in fair, unbiased and systematic ways, in accordance with our laws. But sometimes this system can be wrong. There are many folks who have been on death row and then exonerated. We can't give them the years of their lives wrongfully taken away, but we can let them out. Citizens wrongly executed, however, can not be brought back. And because the system has the potential to wrongly convict, as long as the death penalty is legal, the system can wrongly kill. We have to be better than that, as a society.

I have no problem with tough sentences. I have no problem with no parole. I don't mind locking people up and throwing away the key. But because permitting any executions guarantees that we'll have at least some wrongful executions, I have to set aside my natural desire for revenge on those who harm the innocent and instead let my desire to protect the innocent guide me to make sure we as society are never guilty of the crime we wish to punish: harming the innocent.

I'm rapidly losing faith that we'll ever get leadership better than we deserve. Billy Joe six pack won't vote for anyone who seems smarter than he is. Because Billy Joe can be moved to believe that Obama really does love baby rapers, because he heard a smart person on the TV say it, politicians have to defend themselves against asinine arguments that play well on TV. And they play well because our nation of avid National Enquirer readers can't be bothered to have a shred of critical thinking skills. "Pass the Cheetos. Is America's Next Top Model on? Sex with babies? I'll watch that. Is that on the violence network?"

Is standing up against the death penalty that hard?