Once the howling mob forms wielding tar, feathers, and pitchforks, anyone who is even suspected of defending the intended target might get lynched too. That is the lesson being learned by Republican Representative Joe Barton right now, as he struggles desperately to backpedal from his comments in a House hearing apologizing to the BP CEO for the $20 billion “shakedown” by the White House.
Barton has no choice politically but to apologize. When the President, the media, the commentariat, and virtually the entirety of the political establishment has announced that BP is the devil, woe to anyone who calls the mob what it is. We’re now almost two years past the “dissent is patriotic” theme. Dissent is not patriotic now that a Democrat is in the White House, that much has been made repeatedly clear to us from the exact same folks who used to preach the opposite ad nauseum. And dissent is not even tolerable now that the dissenters from two years ago are the ones calling the shots. They told us during health care reform that dissent was “unAmerican”, the exact same term that used to call forth howls of righteous outrage. And even the slightest hint of a raised eyebrow about the bullying of BP makes the eyebrow-raiser a target of the same bullying. The hypocrisy would be outrageous if it weren’t so predictable.
And now the old supposed dedication to the “rule of law” is gone as well. No less than the President of the United States, in the complete absence of any statutory authority or judicial finding, determined to “order” (his word) a corporation to pony up $20 billion to be spent in accordance with an “independent” administrator appointed by (wait for it) … the President. Coming less than a year after the same President appointed to himself the right to determine who could be CEO of General Motors, the emerging picture is of a President who seems to have discovered a heretofore completely unknown constitutional provision empowering him as leader of all global industry rather than the puny authority of just the executive branch of the United States government.
Let’s be honest — this is becoming mob rule. The President has decided that he doesn’t need statutory or constitutional authority to give “orders” that strip British pensioners (who don’t even get access to the American ballot box to which he is accountable) of the dividends they rely upon for their limited incomes during an economic recession. And the opinion elite has decided that no one … no one is allowed to call that out without forfeiting their right to hold office or even to speak at all. This is, we are told by those who used to preach deliberation and caution, the time for torches and pitchforks. And even the additional irony of the same President who lectured us about not “alienating our allies” going overboard to alienate our very closest ally in the world is not allowed comment.
Rep. Barton has been forced to apologize and grovel for the mob’s forgiveness, sure enough. But that only proves that it is, in fact, a mob. The only question now is what principles and which individuals will be next to be trampled beneath the self-righteous horde.