Pro-"Limited Government" and Pro-Torture.

I'm at the Values Voter Summit, and while waiting for the next speaker I -- along with most of the attendees -- spent a few minutes watching a longer version of this Heritage Foundation video celebrating the Constitution:

The video is what you would expect -- sweeping music, interviews with ordinary people, and regular references to "liberty," "rule of law," and "limited constitutional government." By and large, Heritage's central message is that the United States is now on a path of ruin; one of the interviewees -- an older European immigrant -- declares that he has lived under dictators, and Americans don't want that fate.

If there's anything ironic about the Heritage message, it's that it comes only two years after almost a decade of pro-Bush cheerleading, where Heritage had nothing but praise for the administration's flagrant disregard for the rule of law. For all its carping about freedom, Heritage had nothing to say when George W. Bush asserted his right to hold detainees forever and torture them when he pleased. Indeed, thanks in part to Heritage's advocacy, the president of the United States has powers that wouldn't be unfamiliar to more than a few dictators; these days, the president can go as far as to execute American citizens without anything approaching due process. 

I don't doubt Heritage's enthusiasm for "limited government," but its concern for the abuse of state power seems to disappear when it involves a friendly administration and people that look a little different.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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