Burning Bush

My friend Jess Kaplan has sent me a link to an essay by Carl Bernstein that, not unsurprisingly, calls for a Congressional investigation of George W. Bush, possibly leading to impeachment proceedings if “high crimes and misdemeanors” are deemed to have been committed. You can read the article here. While Bernstein’s credentials on the subject of ousting Republican presidents are, of course, unimpeachable, one must be wary to some extent, because of his visceral, Krugmanesque loathing for Bush the man.

Much is made in the essay of the Bush administration’s secrecy, and their covert use of, shall we say, extra-Constitutional methods in their prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the West’s struggle against its fanatical Islamic foes.

I wonder sometimes about what the right level of practical tradeoffs between lofty ideals and pragmatic necessities might be. As Churchill famously said, “In wartime the truth is so precious that she must at all times be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” And as for torture, even that is not as cut-and-dried as we would like. Could we justifiably torture someone whom we reliably understood to know the location of a nuclear device that was set to go off in a major city in twelve hours? See this essay by Charles Krauthammer for some thoughts on this difficult topic.

Having said that, though, I make no brief for Bush, who is, to put it almost comically mildly, is no Churchill. The only thing I have ever agreed with him about was foreign policy, and while I supported the decision to oust Saddam, the conduct of the war was a disaster of the first magnitude. The President’s smirking manner, his swagger, his juvenile ineloquence, his shallow and binary mind, his ostentatious, teetotaling piety, his arrogation of power (and contempt for basic American freedoms and for the checks and balances of the Constitution), and his unwillingness to admit the slightest error are ample reasons to wish him gone. He gave me yet another occasion to cringe in embarrassment for our American culture when he said yesterday, regarding Rumsfeld, “I am the decider.”

So should he be investigated, and possibly impeached? The only reasons I’d say no are that it would paralyze the government in a time of war and international crisis – an important consideration, and the farthest thing from the minds of those for whom the hatred of Bush trumps all – and that it would be a political feeding frenzy of the vilest sort for the Angry Left, whom I respect perhaps even less than W. and his paranoid inner circle. The hideous spectacle that would ensue as they exact their bloody revenge – the preening and gloating of folks like Michael Moore, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Al Franken and the seething mob of smug and self-righteous simpletons in groups like MoveOn.org – would be almost unbearable to watch, not to mention the predictable reaction in my own ultra-blue neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn. I abhor extremists of any stripe, and thoughtful moderates are either awfully scarce these days, or awfully shy.

But are those sufficient reasons to refrain? I don’t know. The second surely isn’t, I suppose, but the first? Perhaps not. An awful lot has gone awfully wrong around here lately, and if the President and his administration refuse to make themselves accountable, perhaps they need to be brought to account. It wouldn’t be pretty, though, and the wisdom of allowing the government to be hobbled by a sanguinary internecine conflict in such dangerous times is questionable. And of course, there is the matter of succession, should he be removed. It will be a bumpy ride.

Well, I imagine I have now managed to alienate both my liberal and conservative friends, without even taking a stand on the issue.

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  1. By waka waka waka » Blog Archive » Liberal Arts on August 10, 2006 at 11:10 pm

    […] Now I’m no fan of George Bush myself, for a great many reasons. I cringe every time he opens his mouth to speak, and I agree he and his posse have made a real “dog’s breakfast” of the rebuilding of Iraq. I don’t even like the way he walks. And I’ve certainly spent much more of my life on the Left side of the aisle than the Right. But as I’ve gotten older, and have seen more and more evidence that human beings are made of irremediably crooked timber, I have come round to a pointed and conservative skepticism of the Utopian fantasies of the Left, and have grown more than a little weary of hearing aging and comfortably-well-off people, their mouths full of Brie and Stoned Wheat Thins, opining that the US would be better off under Castro than Bush – the sort of opinion, of course, which, if expressed in reverse, would get them hauled off to jail in Havana. […]