Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Incompetence of Tyranny, Redux

Quote of the day, from Judge Brinkema, addressing the federal government's prosecutors at the Moussaoui sentencing trial: “I don’t think in the annals of criminal law there has ever been a case with this many significant problems.”

This relates back to a theme that I have written about before, in the context of the federal non-response to the Katrina disaster. This time, it's about the amateurish bumbling of government lawyers (a recurring theme with them—see Progress' history of this phenomenon). But no matter the outer form or particular personalities involved, it's about the incompetence of tyranny. Six months ago, I described it this way:

A theme that is often overlooked by both historians and newspeople is that of the fundamental incompetence of tyrants, such as those currently in power in Washington. Yet from Nero and Caligula, all the way to the various Communist emperors of the 20th century and the Saddams and Bushes of the 21st, the defining mark of tyranny—its solipsistic arrogance—has made for bumbling, stupid, destructive, and inevitably self-destructive, government.

Industrial age and contemporary corporations bear the same mark: the incompetence that derives from the petty self-absorption of imperialists. Their obsession with the veneer of self-imagery and the drab array of the superficial creates a myopia that increasingly blinds itself, until there is only vision for what is no longer there. Thus, tyrants will always miss the sickening effects of their depredations, until some event or combination of events so disrupts the tower of ashes upon which their power rests, that even they will be forced to take notice.

For George W. Bush, the moment has come. To borrow a metaphor from a wonderful parable on tyranny by Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle, the little fellow at the bottom—after years of patient support and groaning oppression—has burped.

And the rest of us are ready to throw up.

No comments: