Friday, January 12, 2007

When "No" Means "Don't Ask"

The intrepid Glenn Greenwald was discussing the issue of the Bushies’ belief that the president can declare war any damn time it wants to (with the provision that this only applies to Republican presidents), and writes :

The superb Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe reported last November that Vice President Cheney actually urged the first President Bush (when Cheney was his Defense Secretary) not to seek Congressional approval for the Persian Gulf War, arguing that the President had the power to start whatever wars he wanted regardless of whether Congress approved or not:

"I was not enthusiastic about going to Congress for an additional grant of authority," Cheney recalled in a 1996 PBS "Frontline" documentary. "I was concerned that they might well vote 'no' and that would make life more difficult for us."

And I don’t have much to add here, except to say that my kids do this exact same thing.  Especially our teenage son.  If he has even an inkling that the answer will be “no”, he just won’t ask.  He’ll just do it and worry about any possible consequences later.  For him, it’s better to get away with doing something then to be told he can’t do it and do it anyway.  Because he knows he’ll do it anyway, so it’s just better not to ask. 

Essentially, it comes down to him preferring to be punished for doing something wrong than to be punished for doing something wrong and disobeying us.  And that does make sense.  Especially as we might not even find out at all, and he might totally get away with it; which is much less likely to happen if he asks.

I’ve even tried to explain it to him, that if he thinks the answer might be “no”, then he shouldn’t do it anyway.  And if he does something that I know he obviously should have asked about first, then I punish him more than if he had disobeyed.  But it’s no use.  This seems to be ingrained behavior, and nothing seems to get that out of him. 

But fortunately, as he’s getting older, he seems to be getting out of this habit more and more.  He was really bad about this as a kid, but now that he’s sixteen, he’s really gotten to be more responsible about his actions.  If only we could say the same about the Bush Administration.

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