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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Land of the Fake Free

Americans make a big deal of the fact that ours is the freest country on earth and an example to the world. Historian Richard Brookhiser writes, "America is about liberty or it is about nothing." It wasn't a coincidence that the second Gulf war named "Operation Iraqi Freedom" -- or that then-Sen. Zell Miller blew his stack before the 2004 Republican convention insisting that the troops there were not "occupiers" but "liberators."

Brookhiser et al have half a point. Americans enjoy a remarkable degree of freedom, and we won't let you forget it. This can take on almost Orwellian overtones at times, as when antismoking activists insist that their enterprise is all about expanding the "freedom from smoke" and liberating bartenders and waitresses from the tyranny of tobacco.

But the "America = freedom" mantra is not just wrong, it's also dangerous to our actual freedoms. According to various surveys, Americans still view government suspiciously but rarely do anything about it. There is no organized political constituency to toss the bums out for legislating and regulating the sort of outrages that I describe above. We're much more likely to gripe amongst ourselves, then shrug and make with the consolation: At least this is the freest country on earth.

Jeremy Lott

Twenty or thirty years ago, nanny state laws and intrusive government were the result of politicians trying to appear useful. Today, people actively seek public office for the specific purpose of micro-managing other people's lives. The old saying, "there oughta be a law" has taken on some very ominous meaning. With the GOP's abrogation of its position as opposition to bloated government and bureaucracy, more of these busybodies will be emboldened to step into the gap and flex their authoritarian muscles.


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