GEORGETOWN, S.C. -- My Fox News baseball hat and sunglasses no longer work as a disguise here in the Carolina Lowcountry. As I stepped out of the Kudzu Bakery this morning, a fellow early-morning shopper accosted me with an accusation and an inquisition: "You're from Washington. What the devil are those people up there thinking?"
Unwilling to accept responsibility for what passes for governance in the federal city and unsure what had raised the ire of my acquaintance, I conceded that we live in Virginia and that I am indeed "based" at Fox News' Washington bureau. Nonetheless, I demurred at being held accountable for the misdeeds or malfeasance of the potentates on the Potomac.
As it turned out, my interlocutor was a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, now a commercial airline pilot from Tennessee. He's here because his family's Florida vacation plans were wrecked by the as-yet unresolved Gulf oil spill. But that wasn't the singular source of his frustration. "It's bad enough that these clowns can't figure out how to stop oil from flooding over a beach in Florida, but suing Arizona because they tried to stop illegal aliens from flooding into their state is just plain crazy." And just to make sure I got the point, he added: "Yesterday we took our kids to Charleston. We went to The Citadel and out to the point where they fired on Fort Sumter in 1861. I'm a 'damned Yankee.' I believe slavery was evil. But the way our government is acting today, I think I understand why the South seceded."
That's strong stuff from an educated man who took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and who served our country in uniform. The April 12-13, 1861, bombardment of Fort Sumter he referred to began the bloodiest confrontation in American history. Academics still debate whether President James Buchanan and his successor, Abraham Lincoln, could have prevented the cataclysm over states' rights. Sadly, the Obama administration, by ineptness or design, seems intent on enflaming similar disputes through repeated assertions of federal "authority."
Last year, when the government took control of two-thirds of U.S. automobile manufacturing, dozens of banks and some major insurance companies, only union "investments" were "protected." Millions of privately held shareholder claims -- commonplace in free enterprise -- were dismissed with impunity.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.