Tookie Williams, 24 years on death row, was executed by the State of California last night. I think the death penalty is barbaric, immoral, and ineffective, and the death of a seemingly reformed man in the wee hours does nothing to change my mind. I don’t trust a bureacracy to estimate my taxes correctly, but I’m supposed to believe its idea of who deserves to live or die?
A friend discovered this comment on the Washington Monthly’s site. The first sentence is excerpted from the blog entry itself; the remainder is a comment upon it.
"At the same time, if anyone does deserve the death penalty, Tookie Williams is surely it."
I think I liked it better when liberal Democrats had the moral courage to say that a society is judged on how it treats its most detested, in much the same way that I preferred it when conservative Republicans were skeptical of social engineering at home and abroad, and defended the interests of individual liberty - even for hated minorities in wartime.
What would Harry S Truman say about today’s Democratic Party, which has largely descended into some combination of technocracy and opportunism, with a touch of demagogy for good measure. There is the New Republic cautioning congressional Democrats to stay the course in their support for the Iraq war, whatever their conscience tells them, and regardless of their abnegation of constitutionally perscribed responsibilities in the lead up to that war. There is Hillary Clinton out peddling legislation - to ban violent video game sales to minors, and “intimidating” flag burning - she knows to be unconstitutional. Here are Democrats arguing that the state should not murder because it is wrong but because they might simply murder the “wrong” man. Where are the armies of compassion? These people who will say and do almost anything to earn and maintain the loyalties of suburban independents.
What would Robert A Taft - who stood against the Klan at a time they were not unpopular in Ohio, and who stood for the civil liberties of Japanese-Americans at a time they were nips - say about today’s Republican Party? There is the Weekly Standard urging Mr. Bush to attack the Democrats’ patriotism to regain his stride. There is Mr. Bush himself calling for a constitutional amendment to permanently marginalize 5% of the population. These people have nothing to sell America but demagogy and plutocracy. They will say and do almost anything to hold their hard right base.