DATE: 12/18/2003 12:57:00 PM
Popularity and Morality - One of the sillier arguments against President Bush is the view that his foreign policy has led to the growing tide of anti-Americanism in Europe. This view is almost perfectly encapsulated by a comment from Howard Dean that I quoted earlier in the week:
This president has forfeited our moral leadership in the world because people dislike us so much.In the earlier post, I mocked this comment as coming from a Romper Room view of geopolitics - the opinion that being liked is more important than principle. The more I think about what Dean said, though, the more serious I am in my hope that this man never, ever becomes president of the United States.
The inverse of this comment is that one's moral leadership or authority is enhanced by the approval of others. In other words, one's moral actions are determined by the opinions of others, rather than guided by any sort of absolute sense of what is right and what is wrong. Classic relativism, and self-centered relativism at that. What Dean is saying is that it's better to be perceived as a morally upright person by those in your peer group than to actually perform moral acts which may affect that perception. Evil triumphs, because those who want to be thought of as good men do nothing.
That Dean holds such a worldview does not speak well for his leadership ability, as his actions as president would be subject to the opinions of those with whom he agrees. The fear of being disliked would trump all other considerations in a Dean foreign policy - lest that dislike help degrade our "moral leadership." Needless to say, this is not leadership. It is the worst sort of following - the peer pressure mentality of high school on a global scale.
America has toppled a tyrant. One who killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. Those who disagreed with America's actions in this case have yet to make an argument as to why it was morally wrong to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They hate us for what we did, even though it was the right thing to do. Howard Dean's campaign thus far has been an exercise in disagreement. He stands for nothing and is irate about everything. He should be forced to explain how doing nothing and remaining popular would have helped those living under a tyrant and made America safer from terrorism.