Because we live in the tyranny of the moment -- because the American body politic has the attention span of a flea lost to microscopic shock and awe -- perhaps all can be forgiven for not remembering that President Barack Obama's plan to reform the known universe in a time of crisis has a precedent we best not forget.
The precedent: Iraq, of all things.
The shocking and awesome sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq zipped by without a blip, let alone a bleep, from the national media. While the world fixated on the A.I.G. bonus babies -- cry, beloved country -- a more lasting lesson slipped away faster than a toddler on a freshly lubricated slip-and-slide. Conservatives are more than happy to decry Obama's propensity to save the world in a time of crisis -- education, the environment, and then health care in his spare time -- because they say we are drowning in a economy that stays afloat on the flotsam of governmental steroids.
The problem, they say, is that the jump-shooting Democrat is simply trying to do too much and much worse -- to piggyback his liberal social agenda on the back of an unprecedented national crisis.
If you're not getting my drift just yet, sift through the jetsam of the birth of the 21st Century America for just a moment. Can you remember a recent example of an Administration using a crisis to pound through an unrelated agenda?
Earth to neoconservatives: here we go again.
When Osama bin Ladin and al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the crisis thereby generated created the perfect pretext for a very different agenda: invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein. The Project for the New American Century, a safe haven for neoconservatives with Bill Clinton in the White House, preached these aggressive tactics, the unfinished business left over from Gulf War I. When bin Ladin attacked Wall Street and Washington they had their crisis and the foray into Afghanistan became nothing more than an overture to the big stick in Iraq. Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld liked Iraq much better because there are more, better targets.
The next time you hear a conservative bellyaching about liberal agendas and the many mis-uses of a crisis -- quoting White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, no doubt -- wish the carping critic a happy anniversary in the best Iraqi tradition. Some complaints are better left forgotten.