Please tell me it's not true. Tell me President Obama did not appear on the 1000th edition of America's Most Wanted. Tell me he did not succumb to the fear-mongering hysteria that seeks to transform worst-cases scenarios into norms of public policy.
But it is true. The president sat for an interview with one of the angriest and most self-righteous men in the United States, John Walsh. He's the father of Adam Walsh, a little boy abducted and murdered several decades ago. Since then, we've all felt the pain of the Walsh family.
Is it only in America that we transform those undone by grief into celebrities?
Walsh is a hero to many Americans. His son was abducted and killed by a stranger. Because this should never have happened, Walsh wants to make sure it never happens again. He's been instrumental in playing to the moral panic that has made our nation's over-inclusive and draconian sex offender laws the target of international criticism. Human Rights Watch has taken note; last summer the Economist carried a front page story of our war against the very forms of desire we stoke with advertising and a culture drenched in cheap, easy and vulgar sensuality.
President Obama's decision to appear on America's Most Wanted was not the reasoned and measured response of a commander in chief committed to rule of reason. Obama sat with Walsh and was lectured by the talk-show host about the need to take DNA samples of every person accused of a felony. The president listened to a man who has lent his son's name to controversial federal legislation that has been declared unconstitutional in some federal courts and is destined for a Supreme Court challenge. What was Obama trying to accomplish with this appearance?
Obama promised change. But it's looking more and more like the same old stuff. Pandering to fear to keep the plebeians at bay; bailing out those too big to fail to keep the elite fat and sassy; promising to close Guantanamo, but now folding in the face of those critics who want men tried in secret. It's looking more and more like the same old stuff in D.C.