Friday, November 24, 2006

If it is Justice you seek...

Justice. Honor. Duty. Accountability. Patriotism. Dignity. Rule of Law. Defense of the Constitution. Respect for the victims. Setting a precedent for future leaders. Displaying to the world our sanity and the intrinsic strength of our institutions. Justice, in short.

All of these are arguments for the impeachment of the band of criminals who have called themselves the Leaders of the Free World for the last six odd years. These arguments are more than powerful. They are undeniable. Incontrovertible. Unshakeable. They carry a a weight of moral inevitability that seems to make failure to impeach a cowardice of the highest order; a betrayal of Americasn principles; a shirking of duty; a shrinking from honor;; an admission of defeat for the rule of law; a contempt for the memories of the victims of this cabal, a failure of accountability; a display of tolerance for criminal behavior to the rest of the world.

Before these arguments, attempts to appeal to political necessities seem vain forms of persuasion at best; they seem to be the appeasing words of a Benedict Arnold more concerned with political and diplomatic hackery than with the principles that drove us to be interested in politics in the first place. Markos' argument that we should not waste any further time on the "Worst. President. Ever." would seem a failure of public justice so enormous that intransigence against it appears to be an act of the utmost moral necessity.

And all this would indeed be true--IF you believe the unpleasant fiction that we have only two more years within which to hold these criminals to account for their actions. . For herein lies the crux of the matter. The soul of this debate turns on the speed with which one demands that justice be fulfilled--and the difference between Justice, Revenge, and a pure Political Power Grab hangs in the balance.

For the world is watching. The world is watching to see the intent of the Democratic Party, and of the Americans incensed with the Bush Mafia. Will we be content with justice? Or will see seek immediate revenge for the insults of the past six years, and for the impeachment of our President before Bush’s Selection? Or, worst of all, will we seek a political coup d’etat and the installation of our own President, thereby contradicting the will of the electorate?

Remember the old adage about the slow but inevitable turn of the wheels of justice: they turn slowly, but they do turn. Eichmann, Goehring and the other puppetmasters of the Nazi regime were not held to account as current leaders of Germany, but rather as its disgraced former leaders. Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in a democratic election and sent packing from the former Yugoslavia before his eventual imprisonment at the Hague. Augusto Pinochet had long been deposed as dictator of Chile before justice came knocking at his door. The Gang of Four in China had long been removed from power before they were tried and executed.

Throughout history, justice has rarely been done upon current heads of state—but it has often been done on former heads of state. But it was no less an act justice on account of the delay. And the justice has been appropriately severe. I would much rather see George Bush and Dick Cheney standing trial before an impartial judge and jury in an American Court for treasons against their oath of office and against the Constitution as civilians, or before the Hague for their war crimes as former leaders, than see them tried ceremonially in the House and the Senate--where the stakes are actually lower, and the jury bound up in partisan politics.

And then there are the alternatives to consider: an impeachment of George Bush that leaves Dick Cheney in office is hardly a show of accountability or justice. To hold Bush accountable while leaving Cheney free would actually be to hang the puppet and to leave the puppeteer to walk free; to catch the little fish, and to allow the big fish to swim away.

But to impeach both in this partisan political environment and create a President Pelosi would be nothing short of a vile partisan power grab, contrary to the wishes of the American Electorate, which never elected her to higher office than that of a representative. It would be a shameful coup d’etat, and a truly terrible precedent that would forever alter American politics. Imagine the karmic consequences of a party long out of power, using the process of impeachment to propel itself into the executive office without an intervening Executive election. History is rife with such political purgings, and the results are never good. Think very carefully about whether that is a road down which you want to walk—all in the interest of speeding the inevitable turn of the wheels of justice.

Indeed, within this context, insistence on immediate impeachment sounds much more like a desire for Revenge, than a desire for Justice. Or even worse, an outright cynical power grab that I cannot and will not support.

But if we are patient, our moral imperatives and our political expediencies need not conflict. We can do our duty and secure our future simultaneously.

If we are patient, we can pursue justice—without revenge. We can pursue honor without base passion. We can pursue duty without the taint of a political power grab. We can achieve accountability without vengeance. Patriotism without paranoia. Dignity without impatient rage. Rule of Law without rush to judgment. Defense of the Constitution without tarnishing the very system it was written to hold in place. Respect for the victims without besmirching their memories. We can set a precedent for future presidents without creating even more terrible precedents than the ones we are trying to negate, and we can show the world the patience and fortitude that truly defines the strength of our national character.

But above all, remember that the world our children will live in, will be affected by the consequences of what we do today—the consequences foreseen and unforeseen alike. And consider carefully whether it is truly Justice that you seek when you call for immediate impeachment.

As for me, I will wait for Henry Waxman and Charlie Rangel to do their work, and for the wheels of Justice to turn as they will. If they turn quickly enough to allow for impeachment without the taint of revenge, then so be it. But if it takes longer, I will remain equally placid.

For my concern is the doing of Justice, rather than the Speed with which that Justice is done.


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