Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Nixon Should Have Hung, and Scooter Should Still Be in Prison

This short piece by Juan Cole states exactly what I have suspected must be the truth about the Bengazi events of September:

It's by no means the first time that Republicans have played politics with real lives. Only a few years back Vice-President Dick Cheney ordered his aide, Scooter Libby, to execute some payback against Valerie Plame, then a covert CIA agent doing serious work in the field of nuclear proliferation, because her husband was viewed as a political problem for the Bush regime. By the time it took to even get Libby to trial, events had quite passed by the lies the Bush Administration had cooked up to get us into the Iraq War. People forget. It's a human problem. Libby got off with a relative slap on the wrist. He stood up for his boss, who still struts around rattling sabres between trips to the ER to fluff his heart. Nixon, of course, left office in some disgrace, but was refurbished eventually into an "elder statesman." And indeed, compared to the Republicans we now must endure, Nixon was in many ways an intellectual and a liberal. Susan Eisenhower just endorsed Mr. Obama, as has Mr. General Powell, sir, and Mayor Bloomberg.

It has become the expected truth that political crimes are not viewed these days as crimes at all. And indeed, as a liberal I am loath to take the draconian path. Henry Adams, grandson of the President I believe it was, said that they should have hung Marse Lee. That has always seemed greatly beyond the mark to me, although I didn't witness Lee's work close up and personal, as Adams must have. Still, Lee didn't start the damn Civil War, and was himself trapped by beliefs and presuppositions, a man who by heritage ought to have been President instead set against the country; a man who had he accepted Lincoln's offer would have ended the war with the first battle. Perhaps.

But on the other hand. Today we have the treasonous spectacle of a Republican Presidential Candidate being willing to meddle and outright lie in ongoing affairs of life and death merely for the sake of his own ambition--an ambition which on the face of it far outruns his actual abilities to do the job he begs us to give him. The Libyan situation is sensitive, tenuous, obviously fraught with danger. The Obama Administration has managed to maintain and even develop good relationships with a country in revolution, an Islamic country no less, a country which had been controlled for 40 or so years by a militaristic dictatorship and cult of personality as powerful as that of North Korea. Anyone--even an old stonemason and fiddler sitting on the far sidelines--can see that the United States has done a great job with a difficult and dangerous situation so far, and that the loss of our Ambassador is a major blow to our good efforts. Politicizing all this for political gain is entirely and obviously evil. Yet Romney, Ryan, Issa--not to mention the pundits who toil to muddle, mislead and inflame the electorate--do exactly this, and with no concern for any negative personal outcomes.

Can we come then to the sad conclusion of hoary sages like Gibbon? That even kindness and compassion sometime carry with them the seeds of their own destruction. Would the Republicans have gone this far had there been sterner lessons for them to ponder. Never mind hanging Nixon. Should they have hung Lee?

It's hard to know. For one thing, Mussolini's fate didn't seem to affect Mr. Berlusconi's attitude all that much. Maybe it's just this memory problem we humans suffer from. It would at any rate be sensible to pick the less treasonous Presidential candidate. That's simply following Robert's Creeley's dictum: "drive he said, fr christ's sake look out where you're going."

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