Whence such a constraint now? After all, what could be more “pragmatic,” what works better than simply seizing power, given the opportunity? There’s nothing intrinsically ideological about dictatorship, so you’d think that this pragmatic non-ideological president would be totally down with it (perhaps even more than a little envious?).
And at the risk of Godwinizing this piece, I have to note that there were other people who, historically, were lauded for their pragmatism. For instance, Benito Mussolini reportedly “made the trains run on time,” which was supposedly a great feat in Italy, and was greatly admired by many American “progressives” for it (not to mention mafiosi, and even if he didn’t really). And Adolf Hitler himself was as pragmatic as he needed to be, at least when coming to power. He built up his arsenal, in defiance of the Paris Accord, only after realizing that the French and English weren’t inclined to stop him. As Jonah Goldberg relates via email (so sorry, no link or source unless you subscribe, which you should):
…when the fascist chancellor of Austria Engelbert Dollfuss (yes, you read that right) was deposed in a Nazi coup, the fascist dictator of Italy Mussolini sent troops to the Austrian border to defend Austrian independence from Nazi aggression. Hitler backed down, renounced the coup, and played nice. He was after all, a “pragmatist.”
And as for his moderation:
In 1938 former Labor Party leader and president of the British Peace Pledge Union, George Landsbury, proclaimed, “I think Hitler will be regarded as one of the great men of our time.”
And actually, as I wrote last spring, President Morsi has some other things in common with the Reichschancellor than just his pragmatism, moderation, and complete lack of ideology:
- Do they promote a political system where the individual will is bent to that of the (Islamist) state? Check.
- Do they advocate a totalitarian regime, in which no personal decision lies beyond its reach? Check.
- Do they take as their guide a book written by the founder of their movement? Check.
- Are they willing, even happy to kill and terrorize innocents to maintain that power? Yup.
- Do they think Jews nonhuman, and wish them exterminated from the earth?
Well, OK, maybe there’s a little ideology there. But you got to love that pragmatism.