I feel like civility and norms are the new version of the critique of the second Bush Administration as lawless. Which it was! But it was also, you know, wrong in a lot of what it did. Immoral. No doubt such language made the focus groups edgy, but maybe they should have been edgy. Because Obama’s ultimate solution to Bush’s lawlessness was to…largely make the shit he did legal (or at least, tacitly so after it was institutionalized and this everybody was responsible for it). Needless to say, this didn’t do much to stop the bad stuff. Torture hasn’t officially come back yet but I submit to you that it has. Separating a child from his or her parents is torture, if anything is.

Obviously not everything is reducible to morality, and it’s sort of a blunt weapon to use in a debate. Not always what you want to go with. But sometimes a blunt weapon is exactly what’s called for.


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