It appears that there is an effort to defend President Obama’s “kick ass” remarks about the BP oil leak by pointing out that it was in response to an interviewer who asked if it wasn’t time to kick some butt.
What I haven’t seen so far is any discussion about how these remarks — both the question and the answer — reveal a deep and dangerous misunderstanding of the proper purpose of government.
It’s not the proper job of the President and Congress to kick ass. It’s the job of the President to enforce the laws and bring violators to justice. If the laws are serving us badly, then it’s time to work to improve the laws and/or the enforcement mechanism.
I suppose some might say the “kick ass” remark is just a way of saying the same thing. But even if it were, which is doubtful given the history of this administration, it’s a bad way to say it became it promotes the idea of vigilante justice, of working outside the law.
We see this bad attitude in newspaper articles that, instead of informing us about regulatory mechanisms being proposed for, say, the banking industry, instead talk about whether or not the new laws are “tough.” But the question of whether they are tough distracts attention from the question of whether they are effective, predictable, and enforceable in a fair, corruption-free manner.