Why Are Some Progressives Upset at the Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki?

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One of the central “doctrines” of American Progressivism has been that the decision-making powers of government should be centralized in the executive branch, and this has been embraced by both the Left and the Right. (Terry Eastland’s execrable book Energy in the Executive is a good example of the Right’s desire for an all-powerful presidency.) On the Left, if one appeals to the decentralization of government as a form of protection against the arbitrary state, then one is called a “racist.” And on it goes. Read the Progressive attacks on the U.S. Constitution and how Progressives believed it was outmoded and unfit for a “modern” society. (They finally got around that point by re-interpreting the Constitution, claiming it was a “living” document, which, ironically, killed it.)

Why do I make this point? The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was an executive decision in which the President of the United States, aided by his “expert” advisers, took all of the powers of government and declared himself to be judge, jury, and executioner. That, dear readers, is the ultimate end of Progressivism. This is “energy in the executive” and it is the antithesis of “due process of law.” This is exactly what the early Progressives wanted, and also what the editors of the Wall Street Journal have demanded for years. Yes, we have seen the shotgun wedding of the worst of Left and Right, and don’t think it stops with al-Awlaki. Obama has taken a huge step, and now look for the executive branch to take more of the same.

5:19 am on October 5, 2011