The blogging juggernaut known as Glenn Greenwald wrote a post called Public Servant v. Military Commander, regarding the Republican and media penchant for referring to President Bush as our leader and Commander-in-Chief, rather than as the leader of the federal government and military, to which most of us do not belong. And for anyone interested, I wrote on this very subject back in April 2005 in Ownership Society, which I might add, was several months before Greenwald even started blogging.
And while most of what Greenwald wrote was against journalists (particularly some egregious stuff from Newsweek), I believe there is an implicit understanding in the post (brought out more explicitly in the comments section) that this represents a strong authoritarian streak in Republicans and their deference to the presidency. But do conservatives really believe that the President is our leader, and must always be obeyed?
Of course not. And I quickly realized that as I was writing a comment on that board. Because I remember Clinton. And I remember what they thought of Clinton. And not only did Republicans and conservatives despise Clinton and oppose everything he did, but even members of the military were often quick to toss derision on a man they insisted was not worthy to be their leader. In fact, disrespect by members of the military was often cited as yet another reason why Clinton shouldn’t be president. It’s enough to make one think that we’re now under a military democracy.
And does anyone really doubt that this would change any with our next Democratic president? Will Jonah Goldberg instantly stop any criticism of Hillary Clinton, were she to get the top spot? Can we really expect to hear Limbaugh say, “But President Gore is our Commander-in-Chief and it would be un-American to not trust his judgment on this.”?
Of course not. Because being authoritarian doesn’t mean that you respect anyone in authority. It means that you give deference to the people you deem acceptable to be in authority; to the people you respect. And conservatives will not respect any Democratic president. Even a President Lieberman (god forbid) better do every damn thing that the conservatives tell him to or he’ll just as quickly be deemed yet another traitorous Democrat. And even then, they’d probably disrespect him even more were he to jump every time they told him to. That’s just the way authoritarian bullies are.
And so this isn’t about authoritarian deference towards the presidency. This is about Republicans finding any damn excuse whatsoever to convince people to respect the people they respect, and to diss the people they disrespect. And so when a Republican is in the Whitehouse, it’s all about obeying our commander. And when it’s a Democrat in the Whitehouse, it’s all about finding some excuse for not obeying the lying usurper. And while many Democrats have insisted that Bush is a lying usurper, they weren’t ones to think we needed to automatically obey the President in the first place. But again, I suspect that the Republicans don’t really believe that either. In the end, it’s all about power.