These days I remain in limited blogging mode and reduced to relaying nuggets from Wretchard's website. Today I'd like to reference a commenter there (ElMondo) who first quotes Wretchard and then provides further quote-worthy nuggets:
[Wretchard] “Assuming that the story as told is accurate, it demonstrates the occasional inability of bureaucracies to see the logical conclusion of their own actions. Nobody asked themselves what would happen when a surprised public, kept in the dark by explicit instructions, saw the airplanes buzzing the city. But in bureaucracies it is sometimes the case that if nobody asks the question, then the question doesn’t exist.”
[ElMondo] Which is why the conservative principle of limited government is a proper one for society. “Limited” is all too often taken as a philosophy on size, but in reality, it’s one about scope. You see, a government that understands it is not free to simply act whenever it feels like is one that should (in theory) comprehend that the citizens should be in the loop on certain activities. That’s the way it limits its scope: By letting citizens judge its activities and dictate the limits of those activities.
If government was truly limited, and truly understood how it should interact with citizens, then perhaps the notion that alarm arising from low flying planes would have crossed someone’s mind well before it did (which was too far after the fact). Because someone would’ve stopped to consider how citizens would judge this act, and not how to keep the citizenry from knowing about it (which from all news reports was the operating principle of this event).
Too many people are using this event to bash Obama. Yes, the buck stops with the President; it does for all White House decisions, period, so there’s validity in holding him responsible, even if he was unaware of it. It’s still his staff. Yet, I can’t help but feel that, in targeting the President, conservatives are missing the opportunity to address the bigger issue: The degradation of the concept of limited government. Too many other, more important issues involved in that concept (Health Care, for example, or Law Enforcement) have too much legal and societal baggage associated with it, nevermind political. This event, precisely because it’s so relatively unimportant (no one died, the worst injury is that people are mad) and nonpartisan (the real failures occurred in the lower levels of the bureaucracy, and crossed party lines) makes the point of limited government in an especially forceful way, because it demonstrates the erosion of the concept in utterly mundane matters. Levels of government intrusion are expected in health care, and by definition law enforcement is a government activity. But simply informing the public of a photo-op? That’s something that should never have been in question, and only was because the people involved did not choose to act within the spirit of limited government.
ElMondo's comment made me realize I don't have a category, incredibly, for government. Now I do, and this is the first post in that category.