I should let this one go, but I can't. Blame it on boredom and loving the sound of my own voice (in print, so to speak).
I consider myself a pretty reasonable person. In 2002/2003, it was reasonable to believe Saddam Hussein's WMD program was either a)covertly operational or b)could quickly be made operational. Lest we forget, at that time, the Bush administration staked its strategy on the "1 percent rule" - which, if memory serves, goes like this: If a rogue state had a 1 percent chance of giving a WMD to a terrorist group, the US was justified in attacking that rogue state. The states in question were the 'Axis of Evil' nations from the State of the Union speech.
It sounded good to most Americans at the time (probably because we didn't account for the difficulties of occupation after a relatively quick, easy 'conventional' fight).
My primary objection to this impeachment proceeding is that it stinks of a moral absolutism that obliviates a rational perspective the majority
of Americans held during 2002/2003.
To quote Andrew Sullivan:
I'm not sure 'Bush Lied" has ever been a good way to look at what happened. Bush Misjudged. Bush Ignored Important Evidence. Bush Massaged The Truth. And so on. "Lied" isn't right - but the truth, not much better, doesn't fit on a poster.
I understand this sentiment (quoted anonymously):
We know from Bob Woodward's reporting that Bush was himself shocked at the paucity of evidence, but chose to characterize manifestly flawed intelligence as strong. Whether that is lying is an ontological question that requires no absolute answer. If Bush was merely mistaken, he has paid next to nothing for an enormous error; amazingly, Americans re-elected him long after his Iraq adventure went south. If he was knowingly deceptive, the Press and official Washington have let him get away with monstrous war crimes. In any case, there is a dearth of outrage. The charge of lying is one way of indicating that Bush has not been held to account in a manner proportionate to the consequences of his failed leadership.
Again, maybe Bush 'lied,' knowingly. He certainly exaggerated to the point that I can't know whether he deliberately deceived because I can't look into his heart to see what's there. Even if I assume he has an evil heart (or he's mirroring Cheney's), impeachment doesn't do anything positive. More on that later.
But what impeachment does, in my opinion (and one in which I'm probably very isolated) is let off the hook Congress & the Press. Congress had its chance to say 'Not "no" but FUCK NO" to military operations in Iraq. In fact it's had it several times with appopriations special measures. It passed the buck to the executive. So impeachment looks "weasily" to me.
I'm not happy with the growth of Executive Power, and I am ESPECIALLY aggrieved by the executive excess of THIS administration (worst of my lifetime, and I'm 40), but the growth of Executive power coincides with the advent of mass media, and is the result of what I would call some of the pitfalls of the human experience, not because executives are nefarious grabasses.
The press, as much as anyone, let us all down after 9/11, and I'll let Marko deal with that aspect of this conversation because he's probably better qualified than I am to address it. Irrespective of that, I don't think any political force even could have
stopped the invasion of Iraq in 2003, simply because the US reaction to 9/11 was human. It was human. In all its pageantry, excess, self-righteousness, and zeal. We wanted revenge, and we didn't care about the cost.
We got what we paid for. It's been excessively expensive. Bush's subesquent occupation 'strategy' will go down as one of the worst military blunders since Napolean invaded Russia (indeed, it may very well be seen by future historians as the first death rattle of America's economic empire -we shall see). His intransigence proved his incompetence, to the point that the American people slowly (at least in my case) became aware that something was wrong with what we'd done, and more quickly, attitudes about the war drove opinion against it. Unfortunately, the press doesn't bring us pictures of firefights and roadside bombs ever evening like they did during Vietnam. If only they did, our troops would be home by now... Or so I believe.
Another way to look at Bush's "Lying" about Saddam's WMD program (and I simply cannot overlook the fact that the top intelligence services from France, the UK, the US, Russia, and several other countries all were generally in consensus of my a) and b) points about the program, above. Those services were wrong - it happens, and it's not the president's fault, directly).
Finally, there's no sense in crying over spilt milk, as the proverb goes.
When politics takes to score-settling, the pendulum swings wide and goes both ways. We're almost out of this mess Bush got us in to. If you use the powers that are available to punish Bush and his psychophants in power, you create grudges that will brew and boil until an opportunity comes for the aggrieved to seek their own vengeance.
If, instead, we ride out the next 7 months, the reality is that (it's not assuming too much) Obama will win, and by late November, his transition team will be working with the Pentagon and the Shia Iraqi government to start a responsible drawdown of forces. By late January, those plans will be going into effect.
If we divert our energies toward impeaching someone, people who remember 2002/2003 as I do will certainly rally to the defense of the President. It will draw a very clean "us vs. them" battle line, and just when a convergence of positive energy is pointing the country in a clear direction to recover from 8 years of idiocy, we'll be prolonging that idiocy and hampering a truly inspiring leader's ability to lead us to a new place as a nation.
So in closing (whew!), impeachment actually makes it harder to punish the people responsible for the Iraq fiasco, and makes it harder to undo the mistakes 8 years have seen.
The known universe is filled with examples of injustice, so much so that fairness is the exception not the rule. Because human beings are aware of this at an intuitive level, we value mercy more than justice. The left was correct and the right was incorrect about all this stuff. Be merciful in that accuracy, and allow the lessons to be learned, and you'll see better results than if you lock up everyone who was responsible.
Thats my 'werd'