Thursday, December 12, 2019

Imaginary Conversation With Nancy Pelosi About Impeachment

An Imagined Conversation with Nancy Pelosi About Impeachment.
Peter Schultz

“So, Madam Speaker Pelosi, you said that although George Bush lied to get the US to invade Iraq that that would not justify impeaching him. Is that correct?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“Well, how can you explain that? I mean it seems hard to make sense of that argument given that the Iraq war, waged under false pretenses, destroyed a nation, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including many, many civilians and, actually, didn’t succeed in establishing anything approaching a genuine democracy in Iraq. Moreover, 4000 plus US soldiers were killed in that war and many more were maimed, some of them permanently.”

“Well, let me put this way. Everything you said is true. But, of course, Bush didn’t know those things would happen when he lied about invading Iraq. He thought he was doing a good thing; his intentions were good, whereas other presidents, like Trump and Nixon, had intentions that were not good. Trump and Nixon were seeking to undermine democracy while Bush was seeking to establish democracy.”

“But doesn’t the fact, which you agree with, that Bush lied, leading to death and destruction on such a huge scale, matter? I mean perhaps he had, as you say, good intentions but do good intentions justify what might be called criminally irresponsible actions? Shouldn’t the focus of an impeachment be on actions rather than intentions? Doesn’t the focus on intentions actually allow presidents to act in what might prove to be criminally irresponsible ways?”

“But Bush was seeking to establish a democracy in Iraq and that indicates to me that he shouldn’t have been impeached.”

“So even though Bush’s war ended up slaughtering Iraqi civilians, destroyed that nation, a nation that posed no threat to the US, he’s to be granted a pass, as it were, because his intentions were good. Is that your argument?”

“Yes, that’s a pretty good summary of my thinking.”

“Well, I must admit I don’t know how to respond to your argument, other than to say that the same argument could be used by a person like bin Laden in defending the attacks on the US on 9/11 and on other dates. His intentions, from his point of view, were good too as he sought to rid what he took to be the ‘holy land’ of invaders who were unbelievers. So doesn’t justice and humanity make demands on us no matter how good our intentions are? Or are we humans free to do whatever it takes to actualize our good intentions?”

“Well, as the old expression has it: ‘You can’t make mayonnaise without breaking some eggs.’ And you cannot change the world without embracing death and destruction, perhaps even of a very high order. I mean, we must be realistic, no?”

“Even if being realistic means that you embrace lying and death and destruction on a very large scale? And if it means that, isn’t that a very dangerous argument to make?”

“Yes, I guess it is a dangerous argument but we shouldn’t shy away from dangerous arguments or dangerous policies. And this is especially true for the US, which is of course ‘the indispensable nation.’ If the world is to be changed, then we Americans are going to save it.”

“OK. I hear you. But what kind of realism is that, thinking, first, that the world can be changed in fundamental ways and, second, that the US is the only nation that can change it for the better? I mean, pardon my expression, but that seems delusional to me. That seems to me to be creating your own ‘reality.’ Isn’t that as fanciful as people like bin Laden thinking they can recreate a far-flung Islamic caliphate?” 

“Well, we have wandered quite far from the question of why George Bush shouldn’t have been impeached, haven’t we?”

“Well, no, I don’t think we have. We have, I think, laid bare the reasons you don’t want to use the impeachment power against politicians like Bush, because such politicians embrace greatness and seek to actualize American greatness. To use impeachment to restrain presidents and their use of power implies a critique of a politics of greatness. Political greatness requires a nation to embrace both good and evil deeds, and great nations are known by and remembered for both kinds of deeds.”

“I don’t know about that. That seems pretty wild to me. Besides, there is a vote upcoming on the floor of the House so I must go. Good talking with you.”

“Likewise, Madam Speaker, and thank you for your time.”

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