“As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking,” Vice President Joe Biden declared on Wednesday as he previewed what his commission on gun violence might actually do.
“There are executive orders, there’s executive action that can be taken. We haven’t decided what that is yet. But we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the Cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required.”
Biden insisted that it is a moral imperative for the White House to do something: “It’s critically important that we act.”
Most of the attention, understandably, is on Biden’s suggestion that the president will consider using executive orders to do things he couldn’t possibly accomplish legislatively. The imperial presidency is always troubling, but when it rubs up against the Bill of Rights it is especially so.
But what I find to be arguably the most disturbing — and definitely the most annoying — part of Biden’s remarks is this nonsense about if it saves only one life, the White House’s actions would be worth it.
Maybe it’s because I wrote a whole book on the way phrases like “if it saves only one life, it’s worth it” distort our politics, but whenever I hear such things the hairs on the back of my neck go up.