Honduras

CRDaily

This past week, the media has made a crack in its myopic coverage of Michael Jackson to give us a few peeks of the situation in Honduras, which is fast becoming another foreign policy test of the Obama administration.

Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya was attempting to hold a national referendum to create an assembly to amend the constitution, in order to remove term limits on the president. Currently, Honduran presidents can only serve one 4-year term, and Zelaya’s term is set to expire early next year. Taking a page from the playbook of his friend Hugo Chavez on how to gradually abolish democracy, Zelaya wanted this gone.

The problem is, Article 373 of the Honduran constitution says that the section on term limits cannot be amended. What’s more, all amendments to the Constitution must come from Congress, not by referendum. In fact, under article 42, promoting a president’s re-election or an extension of his term is grounds for the courts to strip that person of their citizenship.

The Supreme Court of Honduras ruled that Zelaya’s referendum was illegal and ordered the ballots seized. The military is in charge of running elections and securing polling places in Honduras, and Zelaya tried to fire the commander of the military for refusing to carry out his orders. The Supreme Court then ruled that Zelaya could not fire the commander  for refusing to carry out an illegal order.

Zelaya then gathered together a force of armed followers, broke into a military base where his ballots were being held under police guard, stole them and planned to hold his referendum anyways. Congress moved to remove him from office with strong support fro Zelaya’s own party, but the Honduran constitution lacks a clear impeachment clause. At this point, the Supreme Court stepped in again, and ordered that Zelaya be arrested.

The military carried out the order, raided Zelaya’s house, seized him and put him on a one-way plane trip to Costa Rica. A legal succession was quickly established. The Vice President had resigned last December in order to run for the Presidency, so President of Congress Roberto Micheletti (who is of the same party as Zelaya) assumed power in accordance with Article 242 of the constitution.

Having the military remove the president from power is obviously not the ideal situation for any country to face, however, there is not much else that Honduras could have done. Their president was engaging in flagrantly illegal behavior and had been given repeated opportunities to cease this behavior. He persisted. The Honduran Supreme Court, Congress and military were left with the choice of either sitting by and watching Zelaya dismantle Honduran democracy, or taking drastic action.

Despite this, most Latin American nations have condemned Zelaya’s removal. Predictably, his leftist-socialist allies such as Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega were quick to condemn, with Chavez even promising military action to return Zelaya to power. The Organization of American States has given Honduras 3 days to return Zelaya to power or be suspended from the organization, and the UN General Assembly has voted to condemn the new Honduran government.

The Obama administration has joined them. According to Obama, “We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there. It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections. The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions. … We don’t want to go back to a dark past.”

While it is certainly true that Central America has had many military coups in its past, Obama doesn’t seem concerned about President Zelaya’s threat to Honduran democratic traditions. While this method of changing the government may not be the wisest thing to have legally available, it apparently is legal under Honduran law.

This incident raises some disturbing questions about Obama’s foreign policy in Latin America.

Since his election, Obama has greatly improved relations with Hugo Chavez. Perhaps sensing that the new American president is more ideologically amenable to populist socialism, Chavez has toned down his anti-American rhetoric and has even said that he wants to be Obama’s friend.

Obama sees it has his mission to restore America’s image in the world, an image that he believes Bush tarnished. As a result, he wants to build friendly relations with the governments of other countries, regardless of who is in charge. This means he will be steadfastly opposed to “regime changes”, because it is hard to build friendly relations with governments that think you are trying to undermine them.

In practice, this means Obama will support proto-dictators such as Chavez and Zelaya, and even bloody-handed killers such as Raul Castro and Daniel Ortega. He will ignore or even oppose pro-democracy movements, for these are sometimes a threat to the corrupt establishment that Obama wants to befriend.

Sometimes, supporting a dictatorial regime is an unfortunate necessity, such as our alliance with the Soviet Union during World War II. However, in this case, we have a clear choice which is not being influenced by other major geopolitical factors such as a more immediately threatening tyranny.

In the past, the left has justifiably criticized the US in the past for supporting dictatorial governments in Latin America. Now, Obama is doing the same thing, all in the name of re-building America’s respect. Instead, it will lead to America being respected by the wrong people. Rather than restoring America’s image, this will lead to the moral decline of American leadership in the world.

13 thoughts on “Honduras

  1. This story reminds me very much of the decline of the Republic of Rome. I wasn’t aware, however, of Obama’s position on this dispute. Very interesting.

  2. Chris,

    You’ll have to forgive me if I’m slow in understanding the intricate semi-ideological, semi-pragmatic political philosophy that the staff writers of CR take hodge-podge from right-wing think tanks and world events, but I sense some serious inconsistency in your approach to the Honduran question after our discussion of apartheid South Africa.

    For instance, you write “Obama sees it has his mission to restore America’s image in the world, an image that he believes Bush tarnished. As a result, he wants to build friendly relations with the governments of other countries, regardless of who is in charge. This means he will be steadfastly opposed to “regime changes”, because it is hard to build friendly relations with governments that think you are trying to undermine them.

    In practice, this means Obama will support proto-dictators such as Chavez and Zelaya, and even bloody-handed killers such as Raul Castro and Daniel Ortega. He will ignore or even oppose pro-democracy movements, for these are sometimes a threat to the corrupt establishment that Obama wants to befriend.”

    Putting aside your poor choice of words (for by the standard you use, couldn’t Reagan have been said to be a little more than friends with racist South Africans?), can’t you see how this passage can be turned on Reagan? Let me show you the moral equivalent that a dirty red like me would confront you with.

    “Reagan sees it has his mission to restore America’s commitment to capitalism around the world, an image that he believes Carter tarnished. As a result, he wants to build friendly relations with the governments of other anti-communist countries, regardless of what racist or militarist regimes are in charge. This means he will be steadfastly opposed to “regime changes”, because it is hard to constructively engage governments that think you are trying to undermine them.

    In practice, this means Reagan will support quasi-fascist racists such as the South African Nationalists, and even bloody-handed killers such as Botha. He will ignore or even oppose pro-democracy movements such as the ANC, for these are a threat to the racist establishment that Reagan wants to constructively engage.”

    It is entirely possible that with this move Obama is trying to constructively engage the leftist South American regimes which are gaining legitimate democratic headway all over the continent, and that have moved steadily leftward under hostility from the Bush Administration. It is also apparent that they are trying to constructively engage Obama. http://www.slate.com/id/2216531/

    So I ask, why was it constructive engagement for Reagan in South Africa, but here it’s Obama soft-peddling on “proto-dictators?” To me, it seems like you and Dexter pivot on this issue around who’s a leftist and who’s not.

    And then you say “in this case, we have a clear choice which is not being influenced by other major geopolitical factors such as a more immediately threatening tyranny.” I know for a fact that you’re too smart to wave away the moral dilemma here with such a simplistic analysis. I know this fact because you don’t just intimate, but explicitly identify the “other major geopolitical fact” that has to temper our understanding of the coup in Honduras in your very next sentence. That fact is the incredibly pernicious and anti-democratic role that military coups have played in modern South American history, often at the behest and with the guns and money of the CIA. This decades-long back-story is a major consideration here, as the military juntas and plutocrats that the US backed, from Batista to Castillo-Armas to Pinochet, easily formed a trans-historical empire evil enough to set alongside the USSR.

    Now I’m just a lay observer like yourself, but I also have to point out that where you see Zelaya’s actions as undemocratic and the military’s actions as an unfortunate but necessary response, I see the legally unalterable nature of procedural issues in the Honduran constitution as wildly undemocratic and Zelaya’s actions as an unfortunate but conceivably necessary response. What if the US constitution had a provision that said “Presidents can only be elected for one four year term and that’s it. No amendment process, however democratic, can alter this?” It’s a bad constitution that makes such procedural issues unalterable, and a verification of Kennedy’s old truism that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” If the people want to change something legally and reasonably, and you prevent that, then get ready for extra-legal methods.

    What this probably amounts to is the same thing as my fundamental difference with Dexter over South Africa: he trusted Reagan where I trusted Mandela. In questions of South American politics, I am seriously distrustful of any questionable machinations made by politicians from the left or the right, but I will support democratically elected populist-socialist governments (even those, like Chavez, with undemocratic tendencies) against the banana-republic military juntas, almost universally right-wing, that are always eager to overthrow them. It’s a predilection informed by history that doesn’t apply one-hundred percent in the Honduran case, but it remains: I distrust any political actions taken by a South American military.

    As for your last comment on the South African dispute, I’m sure Reagan was considering this. It adds a lot of weight to my repeated statement, that I’ll repeat as many times as I have to, that Reagan shielded a group of quasi-fascists and racists in South Africa. I’ll reproduce your comment so there can be no confusion. You say “Apartheid South Africa was the prime supporter of movements like UNITA and RENAMO that the US wanted to be supported in their grand geopolitical struggle against the USSR. I doubt the ANC would have been as committed to fighting the MPLA/Cubans, SWAPO or FRELIMO as the Apartheid government was, and I’ll bet this was an important consideration in Reagan’s mind.” This very very very very very clearly implies that Reagan wanted the Nationalists to stay in power to be a bulwark against communist influence in the Bush Wars. This is perfectly consistent with my statement about Reagan, and inconsistent with Dexter’s claim that Reagan did not want to shield the Nats and opposed sanctions because they might actually strengthen apartheid. I will also reproduce his comment, so there is no confusion. He said “Your claim that Reagan was ‘shielding’ white supremacist oppressors is so false that it deserves no response. But I suppose I will respond anyways. Ugh. Reagan’s veto was a liberal economic move, made on the grounds that sanctions, under those particular circumstances, could have strengthened the apartheid regime.” So which was it? Did Reagan want to prop up the Nationalists because the ANC would not be dependable allies in Reagan’s grand strategy? Or did he oppose sanctions because was actually trying to undermine the Nationalists? You two clearly have some issues to discuss amongst yourselves.

  3. “If the people want to change something legally and reasonably, and you prevent that, then get ready for extra-legal methods.”

    Zelaya is not “the people.” “The people” do not universally want Honduran democracy to become Venezuelan strongmanship. If you do not get that feeling, read Univision’s coverage instead of the Associated Press’s coverage.

    Extra-legal methods: nasty. The whole point of democracy is to prevent strongmen from using illegal methods to gain power beyond what the representatives of the people have defined as the limits of power. That is – the whole point of democracy is to have democracy, not dictatorship.

    “the banana-republic military juntas, almost universally right-wing, that are always eager to overthrow them.”

    The Honduran Supreme Court and Honduran Congress, which ordered Zelaya’s arrest and essentially impeached and convicted him, respectively, remind you of “banana-republic military juntas” ? I can see why using the country’s election enforcement agency – the military – to carry out legal orders brings back bad memories, but make distinctions where they exist.

    “What if the US constitution had a provision that said ‘Presidents can only be elected for one four year term and that’s it. No amendment process, however democratic, can alter this?’ ”

    Storming a military headquarters with armed supporters in order to steal balance in defiance of an order from the country’s highest court is hardly a democratic amendment process.

    “I distrust any political actions taken by a South American military.”

    The Honduran military did not take political action per se… the Honduran Supreme Court took legal action because Zelaya had taken strictly political, extralegal action. As I understand it, the enforcement by the military the problem of the Honduran constitution… which is an imperfect but reasonably OK document designed in part to prevent military dictatorships.

    “but here it’s Obama soft-peddling on ‘proto-dictators?'”

    Chris answered this question when he implied that the information available to Reagan at the time did not help the President place the greatest trust in the ANC.

    “Did Reagan want to prop up the Nationalists because the ANC would not be dependable allies in Reagan’s grand strategy? Or did he oppose sanctions because was actually trying to undermine the Nationalists? You two clearly have some issues to discuss amongst yourselves.”

    Probably quite a bit of both. One can have multiple reasons for making a decision. For example, if I want fries, it may be because I’m hungry and because I like fries. You see a binary decision process where the decision process was actually grey. Reagan wanted to undermine the apartheid regime, but he didn’t want the geopolitical forces in the region to play to the Soviets or for chaos to erupt in South Africa to a greater extent than was already occuring. The Reagan argument: sanctions hurt poor blacks while doing little to undermine the apartheid regime – so imposing sanctions would not necessarily help any geopolitical goals. In hindsight, per the Yale paper I referenced in the last post, the sanctions probably cannot be linked in a causal fashion to the collapse of the regime.

    I think Chris may respond to the core of your argument when he gets a chance. I am just chiming in.

  4. “The Honduran Supreme Court and Honduran Congress, which ordered Zelaya’s arrest and essentially impeached and convicted him, respectively, remind you of “banana-republic military juntas” ?”

    Read the next sentence where I say my predilection doesn’t apply one-hundred percent in this case. It’s not a direct comparison. But does the military aiding a court in preventing a democratic referendum reminding me of past military juntas? Yes, it does.

    “Storming a military headquarters with armed supporters in order to steal balance (ballots?) in defiance of an order from the country’s highest court is hardly a democratic amendment process.” No, but a referendum could very easily be democratic. Unless, of course, the undemocratic constitution prevents referendums in the incredibly crucial, and therefore necessarily malleable, area of procedural issues in the first place. In this case, the attempted referendum is democratic, and the iron-clad constitution, beyond the reach of change by popular vote, is undemocratic.

    “Chris answered this question when he implied that the information available to Reagan at the time did not help the President place the greatest trust in the ANC.”

    Chris actually did not answer this question, because it’s extended here to the Honduran question. He accuses Obama of supporting proto-dictators in Latin America. Reagan supported racial dictators in South Africa. Reagan had a choice between supporting people he knew to be racial dictators and Nazi-sympathizers, or supporting people who might or might not be Soviet dupes. He picked the former even though he had positive knowledge of what they were. So why does no one accuse him of supporting who he supported? If Obama is supporting people who are patently proto-dictators, then Reagan supported people who were patently racist, regardless of what information he did or did not have about the political sympathies of the ANC.

    “Probably quite a bit of both. One can have multiple reasons for making a decision. For example, if I want fries, it may be because I’m hungry and because I like fries. You see a binary decision process where the decision process was actually grey. Reagan wanted to undermine the apartheid regime, but he didn’t want the geopolitical forces in the region to play to the Soviets or for chaos to erupt in South Africa to a greater extent than was already occuring.”

    Between yourself and Chris, you actually have constructed a binary. You say Reagan actively tried to weaken the Nationalists by blocking sanctions because he was opposed to apartheid; Chris says he wanted the Nationalists to stay in power as a bulwark against Soviet, Chinese and Cuban influence. Did he want the Nationalists to stay or to go? It’s a binary. Your analogy is totally wrong. The choice isn’t between whether I want fries because I’m hungry or because I like fries. It’s whether I want to eat fries because I’m hungry, or eat something different because fries will make me fat. Extending it to Reagan, his choice was between whether he wanted to support the Nationalists to stave off Soviet influence (he was hungry), or actively support a different party because supporting the Nationalists was a morally unsavory proposition (eat something else to avoid all the fat).

  5. “You’ll have to forgive me if I’m slow in understanding the intricate semi-ideological, semi-pragmatic political philosophy that the staff writers of CR take hodge-podge from right-wing think tanks and world events”

    Well, if CR staff seem inconsistent on foreign policy it is because we are. Foreign policy issues tend to be the subject of spirited debate and disagreement between staff members.

    “It is entirely possible that with this move Obama is trying to constructively engage the leftist South American regimes which are gaining legitimate democratic headway all over the continent, and that have moved steadily leftward under hostility from the Bush Administration.”

    Well, there are leftist South American leaders like Rafael Correa and Evo Morales, and on the other hand there are leaders such as Hugo Chavez who have been busy dismantling the democratic structures of their countries. I don’t have a problem with engaging the former, I do have a problem with the latter.

    “Now I’m just a lay observer like yourself, but I also have to point out that where you see Zelaya’s actions as undemocratic and the military’s actions as an unfortunate but necessary response, I see the legally unalterable nature of procedural issues in the Honduran constitution as wildly undemocratic and Zelaya’s actions as an unfortunate but conceivably necessary response. What if the US constitution had a provision that said “Presidents can only be elected for one four year term and that’s it. No amendment process, however democratic, can alter this?” It’s a bad constitution that makes such procedural issues unalterable, and a verification of Kennedy’s old truism that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” If the people want to change something legally and reasonably, and you prevent that, then get ready for extra-legal methods.”

    Well I see the Honduran constitution’s provision on term limits as being designed to prevent just the type of thing you talk about earlier in your post: Latin America’s history of dictatorships. The reason it was written to be completely unalterable was to make sure that no president ever wormed his way through some loophole to remove term limits and install himself as a dictator.

    One of the most important things to a peaceful democracy is that the rule of law be maintained. When leaders start getting ideas that stuff should be changed, regardless of its legality, that is when democracy starts to crumble. We have seen this in Vladmir Putin’s Russia and in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela for example. Neither the people nor their leaders are above the law. Presidents can’t run around with gangs of armed thugs breaking into buildings and holding illegal elections any more than presidents can order ex-CIA thugs to break into buildings and steal their political rival’s campaign secrets.

    I’m also failing to see why you see the removal of term limits as pro-democratic, especially in Latin America. Given the history of dictatorships in the region, Latin American nations need strong limitations on the power of the executive in order to maintain democracy.

    “I distrust any political actions taken by a South American military.”

    Except in this case, the political actions were taken by the Honduran court system and congress. The military only carried out their orders to defend the nation and constitution.

    “So which was it? Did Reagan want to prop up the Nationalists because the ANC would not be dependable allies in Reagan’s grand strategy? Or did he oppose sanctions because was actually trying to undermine the Nationalists? You two clearly have some issues to discuss amongst yourselves.”

    Well, I am not Zach Dexter so I won’t really comment on what he posted, except to refer you to my first paragraph on this post. I would also like to add that I don’t think Ronald Reagan was the second coming of Jesus Christ. He did a lot of good things, but he wasn’t perfect.

  6. Chris,

    You make some fair points. Here are my responses.

    “Well, there are leftist South American leaders like Rafael Correa and Evo Morales, and on the other hand there are leaders such as Hugo Chavez who have been busy dismantling the democratic structures of their countries. I don’t have a problem with engaging the former, I do have a problem with the latter.”

    Drawing the distinction between Morales and Chavez is a good thing to do, so I’ll accept this point. However, if you accept Chavez as a proto-dictator (which is probably accurate) and therefore constructively engaging him as problematic, then you also have to accept the South African Nationalists as racial dictators, and constructively engaging them as similarly problematic. From everything you’ve said before I would imagine you agree with this, but we have to be clear on the fact that it totally undermines the “constructive engagement” argument in regards to South Africa. (Dexter, take note.) Do you agree with this?

    “When leaders start getting ideas that stuff should be changed, regardless of its legality, that is when democracy starts to crumble.”

    Regardless of its legality? Do you really believe this? America has a very open amendment process to its constitution, allowing people to change things as they see necessary (even if that isn’t often), and I would imagine you think America is one of, if not the most stable democracy in the world. And changing the constitution isn’t always merely the idea of leaders. If a grass-roots groundswell of popular support for changing the constitution had existed in Honduras, though it probably didn’t in this case, it still would have been prevented by the way the current constitution is written. Doesn’t this seem inflexible to undemocratic proportions?

    “Presidents can’t run around with gangs of armed thugs breaking into buildings and holding illegal elections any more than presidents can order ex-CIA thugs to break into buildings and steal their political rival’s campaign secrets.”

    Absolutely true. On this count Zelaya’s actions were unhelpful and flat out undemocratic, and must be condemned. But once again, this might have been avoided had the constitution not been so inflexible. So let’s put the blame where it belongs: on both of them.

    “I’m also failing to see why you see the removal of term limits as pro-democratic, especially in Latin America. Given the history of dictatorships in the region, Latin American nations need strong limitations on the power of the executive in order to maintain democracy.”

    I don’t support the total removal of term limits for any leader, anywhere, at any time. Every leader, every where, at all times should be operating under term limits. Here again Zelaya’s actions were wrong. But I’ll also say that one four-year term limit is unreasonable. It prevents continuity and grassroots political momentum. Two four year terms, or three three year terms would have been more reasonable. But again, the biggest unreasonable factor was the constitutional inflexibility of the matter.

    Also, given the history of dictatorships in the region checks ought to be placed on the executive. You’re right about this. But you forget that the greatest threat to democracy in South America for the last 75 or so years has not been democratically elected, if somewhat autocratic populist executives, but rather the encroachment of the military upon civilian political life. And you can’t claim the Honduran constitution prevents this when they give political enforcement powers to…the army! An interesting and pretty fair article that makes this point can be found here. http://www.slate.com/id/2222241/

    “Except in this case, the political actions were taken by the Honduran court system and congress. The military only carried out their orders to defend the nation and constitution.”

    I refer you to my comments and the article above.

    “Well, I am not Zach Dexter so I won’t really comment on what he posted, except to refer you to my first paragraph on this post.”

    Indeed you are not Dexter. Your position on South Africa is actually in ways closer to mine than it is to his. So it would be interesting to see you two publicly discuss your differences on the issue as you have both been doing with me. He seems to be operating under the illusion that your two different views are easily reconcilable, and I can’t help but notice that you’ve hardly made a move to corroborate his position.

    “I would also like to add that I don’t think Ronald Reagan was the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

    You might just be alone among your own crowd on this one.

  7. “Regardless of its legality? Do you really believe this? America has a very open amendment process to its constitution, allowing people to change things as they see necessary (even if that isn’t often), and I would imagine you think America is one of, if not the most stable democracy in the world.”

    Wow, it seems like I was very unclear here.

    What I meant was that when a leader decides that, “forget the nation’s laws, stuff needs to be changed, dammit”, that’s when democracy starts to crumble. I didn’t mean that leaders effecting legal changes are a threat to democracy. But when a leader decides that his agenda is going to be implemented even though it is illegal, that’s when democracy starts to crumble.

    “But I’ll also say that one four-year term limit is unreasonable. It prevents continuity and grassroots political momentum. Two four year terms, or three three year terms would have been more reasonable. But again, the biggest unreasonable factor was the constitutional inflexibility of the matter.”

    It does seem like a very short term. The 1982 Constitution was written after Honduras returned to democratic civilian rule in 1981. Before then, since 1963 Honduras had been governed by a succession of military dictatorships, mostly under the rule of Oswaldo Lopez Arellano. Given this history, I can see why the framers of the 1982 constitution wanted to make the presidency absolutely foolproof against wannabe dictators, military or otherwise.

  8. “You might just be alone among your own crowd on this one.”

    You have unrealistically high expectations for the CR staff’s reverence of the man, who was, after all, just a man. Get over them 😉

    “He seems to be operating under the illusion that your two different views are easily reconcilable, and I can’t help but notice that you’ve hardly made a move to corroborate his position.”

    No. I was merely expressing my own view on how the desire to have that country serve as a bulwark against communism may have played into Reagan’s decision process. Another possibility, to which you are more likely to subscribe, is that Reagan really wanted the bulwark and made an argument against sanctions on grounds he knew to be nothing more than an excuse. In light of the evidence, believing the latter scenario requires a leap of faith.

    “Did he want the Nationalists to stay or to go? It’s a binary.”

    My theory, which I think is the correct theory, is that he wanted the Nationalists to go – but to be replaced by a democratic party that would institute equal rights for all. I do not think that he was willing to see economic pressure applied against the black community, if that were the cost of deconstructive engagement (that is, US sanctions), because I think that he believed – correctly, in light of the evidence – that said pressure would not be effective in causing the downfall of the regime, and that pressure would do economic damage to the black population.

    Remember that we must remove those hindsight glasses and analyze his decisions given the information available to him at the time. This is the perspective from which I have looked at the issue.

    Let’s move forward in time a bit: remember, too, that Reagan reversed course, told the public he was misguided, and implemented all sorts of sanctions. In the period between when he refused sanctions and implemented them, it became even clearer that Botha’s regime would not make true compromises – that is, constructive engagement was not really working. So, as I have said all along, the sanctions probably played some part in the regime’s downfall, but that part came at high cost for the economy, and thus for the poor population of South Africa.

    Neither policy “worked” per se. Both had unintended consequences and hidden costs.

    Foreign policy is not binary with all hardline regimes. Iran and Cuba are two examples where the choice is not only between a) sanctions or b) propping up the regime. North Korea presents us with a fairly binary choice, though some argue that trading with the regime in order to undermine it is a tertiary option. I think that is probably not true in light of the repressive economic regime there.

  9. First of all I just want to add a point that this isn’t about Ronald Reagan. I appreciate that the comments section facilitates fascinating discussion among the writers and some of our readers, but why should we accept the premise of Jonathan’s argument? I guess I just get tired of the endless “gotchas” regarding the seemingly meaningless comparisons between different presidents. These comparisons are often made in order to defend one’s preferred commander in chief. During the W. Bush years it was comparisons to the good ol’ days under Clinton. Now I hear comparisons to the Bush legacy nearly weekly. I just don’t see the point.

    @Jonathan: I do not deny your obvious assumption that the CR staff as a whole very probably regards Reagan highly. I don’t understand why that constitutes the need for flippant insults.

  10. Justin,

    Don’t be so thin-skinned.

    Flippant insults? I respect you as a person and a fellow Winston resident, but I feel compelled to provide you with this link…

    Click to access 2008_10.pdf

    …and then ask you: “Come again?”

  11. Jonathan,

    I wasn’t really offended. I thought your sarcasm was funny (but we all know you are not dirty). I was merely making a statement that corresponded to my confusion regarding the point of your first comment. As to the link, I don’t get it . . .Oh, and are you living in Winston again next year?

  12. Justin,

    You seemed to be taking offense to my conservatives-think-Reagan-is-the-second-coming-of-Jesus comment, to which the link makes sense. If that’s not what you were referring to when you mentioned “flippant insults,” then I’m not sure what else you could have found insulting.

    I’m not actually living in Winston next year. I’m living off campus, but I’ll miss Winston. Are you living there?

  13. No. I didn’t read that one. I stopped reading way before that. I assumed you were being sarcastic when you said the following: “You’ll have to forgive me if I’m slow in understanding the intricate semi-ideological, semi-pragmatic political philosophy that the staff writers of CR take hodge-podge from right-wing think tanks and world events.” However, you certainly could have been completely serious. Still, it is a bit condesending.

    I am actually keeping the same room. Look for me reading/sleeping in the sun out on the bench.

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