It has been interesting watching the response to the Honduran military's recent ousting its nation's president, Manuel Zelaya. Barack Obama called the action "not legal" and Hillary Clinton said that the arrest of Zelaya should be condemned. Most interesting, perhaps, is that taking this position places them shoulder to shoulder with Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and Venezuelan's roaring mouse, Hugo Chavez, who is threatening military action against Honduras. Now, some would say this is an eclectic group - others would say, not so much - regardless, what has gotten them so upset?
Let's start with what they say. They are calling the ouster a "coup" and claim that Zelaya is still Honduras' rightful president. Some of them say we must support democracy. But they have said little, if anything, about the rule of law. And most of what they have said is wrong.
First, it doesn't appear that Sunday's ouster was a military coup but a law enforcement action. It is not a military strongman who sought extra-legal control, but Zelaya himself. Here is the story.
Zelaya is a leftist, a less precocious version of Chavez, sort of like the Venezuelan's Mini-me. And, like Chavez, it's seems that Zelaya was bent on perpetuating his rule and increasing his power in defiance of the rule of law. That is to say, the Honduran Constitution limits presidents to one four-year term, and this wasn't quite enough to satisfy Zelaya's ambitions. So he sought to amend the constitution, which may sound okay, except for one minor detail. Mary Anastasia O'Grady in the Wall Street Journal explains:
While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.
But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
. . . the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.
However, like so many apparent megalomaniacs, Zelaya greatly overestimated his popularity. The groundswell of citizen support he had counted on didn't materialize; thus, his law breaking could not be sanitized by consensus making. The military then arrested him, acting under orders from legitimate civilian authorities and in defense of the rule of law. The good guys won . . . at least for now.
Also note that the military confined itself to its prescribed police action and is not running the country. The new president is 63-year-old Roberto Micheletti, a member of Zelaya's own Liberal Party. Moreover, elections are still planned for this November.
Micheletti also enjoys wide support, from the rank-and-file to the those breathing rarified air in elite institutions. As for Zelaya, while you may not be able to please all of the people all of the time, he certainly seems to have been able to displease them. He not only alienated the Congress, Supreme Court, the people and the attorney general -- who also declared the referendum illegal and vowed to prosecute anyone facilitating it -- he is also opposed by the Catholic Church and many evangelicals. Really, no one seems to like him.
No one, that is, but Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega.
Oh, and let's not forget Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are, anyone?
In fact, Obama's position is striking. More than almost anything else -- almost anything -- this dance with the Devil reveals his true colors. Sure, he was criticized over his handling of Iran, but even I will say there are two sides. After all, you could make the case that overt support for the protesters would provide the clerics and President Ahmadinejad with invaluable propaganda material. And Obama looked foolish when he paraded about the world issuing mea culpas on behalf of big bad America, but, hey, that's a reflection of the standard liberal America-as-villain narrative. I don't think it surprised too many people. But, as bad as Obama has been, this occupies a different realm all together. And I think most fail to appreciate the gravity of what I will not even call a policy, but an offense.
Obama has sided with a thug, a man who -- for completely self-serving reasons -- sought to subvert his nation's constitution. Obama has sided with a man who -- like Pancho Villa on a cross-border raid -- lead a mob in an effort to execute this illegal scheme. And Obama does this while paying lip service to democracy, even as he imperils it; he claims to stand for freedom, even while supporting those who would extinguish it. It is un-American. It is ugly. It is, in a word, evil.
Yet it doesn't surprise me. Some may think the issue is simply that, although Obama despises Zelaya's tactics, he is driven to support a fellow traveler. Others may think that Obama wants to support a fellow traveler and is indifferent about the tactics. Neither is entirely correct. In point of fact, Zelaya has certain tactics. Obama has certain tactics.
And they are largely the same.
In fact, they are shared by virtually all leftists.
Ignoring the rule of law, manipulating the Constitution, acting as if the end justifies the means . . . . Sound familiar? This is standard left doctrine.
Examining this further, let's look at two comments Obama and H. Clinton made about Honduras. Obama said that the U.S. would "stand on the side of democracy" and Clinton said, "we have a lot of work to do to try to help the Hondurans get back on the democratic path . . . ." These comments reflect a common theme. There is gratuitous emphasis on democracy, but what of the rule of law? What of recognition that, technically, Honduras and the U.S. are not democracies but constitutional republics? We don't hear much talk about these things from liberals, and I have a theory as to why.
Of course, such comments are often simply rhetoric, but there can be a deeper reason as well. Democracy, in the strict sense of the word, refers to direct rule by the people. Another way to put it is that it's rule based on the people's whims. Now, liberals are relativists, which means they don't believe in Truth, in natural law, in anything beyond man that determines morality. Instead, relativism involves the idea that what people once called morals are merely values, which, in turn, are just a function of a people's consensus opinion. It then follows that the impositions of values known as civil laws cannot be based on anything outside of man, either; they also are simply a function of opinion, be it the consensus variety or that of those with clout. In other words, liberals believe as the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras did, that "Man is the measure of all things."
Now let's say you accept this. When constitutional mandates, or laws, then contradict that "measure of all things," that democratic body, with which will you likely side? This explains why liberals find it unfathomable that anyone would let "a piece of paper" stand in the way of a popular -- or politically correct -- social change. "Why, you have to be a simpleton to let a law forestall progress!" is the idea. And from their simplistic, shallow perspective it makes sense. If laws originate with opinion, anyway, why would you let them stand in the way of the dominant opinion when the latter changes?
Yet, at the end of the day, liberals aren't any more beholden to popular will than to laws, as they scoff at it when it contradicts politically-correct will. And there is a good reason for this. Liberals don't view democracy as an absolute because there is no such thing in a relativistic world, but they at least view it. That is to say, they know popular will is real but believe God's will (Truth) is imaginary. And what exists takes precedence over what doesn't.
But in a world without absolutes, what takes precedence over all? Well, without any unchanging yardstick for making moral decisions -- without Truth to provide answers -- liberals have only one thing to refer to: Their mercurial master, feelings. But whose feelings shall hold sway? They may sometimes be those of the majority of people (expressed as "values"), especially insofar as their feelings influence liberals' feelings. But, then again, the feelings might also be those of most liberals' favorite people -- and the ones they fancy the smartest -- themselves. This is what engenders the elitism that justifies trumping popular will; after all, liberals' own feelings always feel more "right" to them than other people's.
Put simply, it's a question of whose will shall prevail, the popular, politically correct or personal? When man is the measure of all things, the man in the mirror usually trumps your fellow man.
Speaking of feelings, one that could be instrumental here is fear. What I mean is, we all understand the power of precedent. And along with Chavez, Obama seems to dislike the idea of a military upholding its nation's constitution and ousting a would-be tyrant. I wonder why? Contact Selwyn Duke