The left, over the last few decades, has grown more and more dependent on using the legal process to win their battles. Repeatedly rebuffed through the electoral and legislative systems, they now find their greatest successes when they can persuade one or a few judges to accept their arguments and impose their rulings on the populace. Witness the rise in prominence of advocacy groups like the ACLU, which pour the lion's share of their resources into litigation, not legislation. Or consider how gay marriage came about in Massachusetts, when four of seven justices on a single panel made a decision for an entire state of about 6.3 million people. Or in California, where ballot measures overwhelmingly passed by the people are struck down.
These incidents are symptoms, I believe, of the over-litigation of our society. The court system is seen as the panacea for all ills. Whatever the issue, the best solution is to simply take it to court and get a judge (or panel of judges) to decide.
By design, our legal system is reactive. It is punitive. It most often intervenes after a wrong has been committed, and acts to right it.
But in the war on terror, those are simply futile.
We know the names and identities of the 19 men who carried out the terrorist attacks in 9/11. By the legalistic model, they should be arrested, tried, and upon conviction punished for their deeds. But unfortunately, during the course of the attacks (indeed, as an essential part of the attacks), they placed themselves irrevocably beyond the reach of our legal system. They are literally answering to a higher authority.
Likewise, this mentality has been playing out over the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. We found the terrorist leader and dropped a couple of bombs on him. He's dead. End of story.
But not to the supporters of the legalistic model. Why didn't we try to capture/apprehend/arrest him? Were any of those others killed innocents? How long did he live after the bombing? Did we try to give him medical treatment? Did we abuse him and make him suffer more during his last moments of life? Did we beat him? Did we execute him?
I have the same answer to all those questions: I don't care.
I think that many of those that Jay describes are living in some kind of a dream world. Most of the rest of us probably have the same reaction as Jay: We don't care.
Zarqawi is dead. We are alive. That's the way we wanted it.