Right Thinking From The Left Coast
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Reasons or Excuses
by Lee

In the comments to the Comment of the Day post below, Para attempts to make the argument that there were lots of people who were clamoring to take out Saddam, including plenty of Democrats, and thus Bush’s responsibility for the Iraq disaster is mitigated.  Before I address this, allow me to quote a couple of definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Reason:  A cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event
Excuse:  An attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify

This is an important distinction.  When we discuss the reasons for the Iraq War it is perfectly reasonable to point out all the other politicians who believed Saddam to be an imminent threat.  That, however, does not provide an excuse for the fact that, as president, Bush has the sole responsibility for making these types of decisions.

When we discuss the disaster that Iraq has become, we need to divide the discussion into two areas.  One is a post-mortem, where we look at the situations and decisions which got us into this situation in the first place.  This will provide is with the reasons for how we got where we are.  The other area is about the responsibility. The president appoints a cabinet to advise him on how to make decisions, primarily because the ultimate responsibility lies at the president’s feet.  If Bush chose his cabinet poorly, and thus got given poor advice, then the responsibility lies with Bush.

We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a representative republic.  In a democracy the people make the decisions.  In a representative republic we elect people to make decisions on our behalf.  Bush was thus elected to make these types of decisions on behalf of the people of the United States.  If he makes a poor decision, the people have the right (actually, the responsibility) to hold him accountable for doing so.

He sought the office.  He sought the power.  He sought the prestige.  He got all of it.  And, along with it, he got the responsibility.  Too many people on this blog don’t seem to be able to appreciate the distinction.

Update: I am reminded of the famous quote from Spider-Man:  With great power comes great responsibility.  Bush is arguably the most powerful man on earth.  I can’t accept any argument which doesn’t assign him a comparable level of responsibility.

If it’s good enough for Spidey it’s sure as hell good enough for Dubya.

Posted by Lee on 04/28/07 at 10:12 PM (Discuss this in the forums)

Comments


Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/28/07 at 10:59 PM from United States

Well, if you’re a King, you don’t have to explain things to the peasants…

Speaking of representatives, here’s more idiocy from the same type of people who brought you “Gay Marriage: The Greatest Threat To Civilization Since Attila The Hun!”

Posted by Para on 04/29/07 at 02:51 AM from United States

You’re right, Lee, we do live in a representative Republic. Bush, as President, signed the bill to go to war.

I’m confused though, can’t a President only sign a bill after it has been voted on by 535 members of congress and 100 senators?

Is there not debate about a bill before the vote?

Didn’t Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright and many others all make empassioned comments concerning the need for regime change as a matter of national secutiry?

Didn’t several other countries see the same evidence and respond to it in the same way?

Is Bush also King of Britain, Australia, Poland, Spain, etc?

Did not the CIA reply to Bush that the evidence was a “slam dunk” concerning WMD’s?

I agree that your sentiment is correct , Lee. The President is ultimately responsible.However, I don’t think at the time it would have been considered “responsible” for the President to not to respond to the evidence.

It’s unfair to pin this on one person.

Unless of course, that one person was Saddam Hussein, I personally thisnk he deserves more responsibility than Bush.

After hearing nothing but attacks on Bush for six 1/2 years by the Democrats and the media, I can see how it’s getting engrained into the National psyche.

This is kinda like common knowledge of history regarding Switzerland during WWII. Ask almost anybody and they’ll tell you that they were the one neutral country. We’ve heard it so often that it’s become “fact”.

Unfortunately, it’s just not true, just as “this is the fault one just one man” is not true either.

Posted by on 04/29/07 at 05:58 AM from United Kingdom

Definitions for democracy generally include elected representatives making decisions on behalf of the population. Arguing that the U.S isnt a democracy is also like arguing that it isn’t a capitalist nation (due to some state intervention in the market) just because it doesn’t fit the extreme definition.

Posted by on 04/29/07 at 09:05 AM from Japan

Arguing that the U.S isnt a democracy is also like arguing that it isn’t a capitalist nation (due to some state intervention in the market) just because it doesn’t fit the extreme definition.

True (classical) democracy means that everyone votes on the issues, not that we elect a ruling class to do it for us. This is a fundamental principle, as opposed to an ‘extreme definition.’

Posted by Lee on 04/29/07 at 03:37 PM from United States

You’re right, Lee, we do live in a representative Republic. Bush, as President, signed the bill to go to war.

I’m confused though, can’t a President only sign a bill after it has been voted on by 535 members of congress and 100 senators?

Para, the bill was to give him THE AUTHORIZATION to go to war if he deemed it necessary.  This is like signing a consent form for a surgeon to operate on you.  Just because you gave him permission to do it doesn’t insulate him from malpractice should he botch the operation.

Didn’t Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright and many others all make empassioned comments concerning the need for regime change as a matter of national secutiry?

And how many of them were president at the time?  Oh yeah, none of them.

I agree that your sentiment is correct , Lee. The President is ultimately responsible.However, I don’t think at the time it would have been considered “responsible” for the President to not to respond to the evidence.

Ah, but you’re talking two different issues now.  Should he have responded to the evidence?  Yes.  Should he have responded by sending in an army 1/3 of the size needed, with no coherent plan on what to do when Saddam’s army fell?  No.

Unless of course, that one person was Saddam Hussein, I personally thisnk he deserves more responsibility than Bush.

Para, lame shit like this might score points over at Free Republic, but you’re going to have to do a lot better around here.

I tell you what, let’s try something different.  In terms of a percentage, how would you assign the blame for Iraq to the various parties?  Let’s use this as a starting point for how you view the situation.

Posted by Para on 04/29/07 at 04:36 PM from United States

Para, lame shit like this might score points over at Free Republic, but you’re going to have to do a lot better around here.

For the record,Lee. I only visit 3 sites. Yours, Glens, and Drudges.

As for assigning blame (pre war)

Well I know you consider it lame, but I place at least 50 % of the blame on Saddam. He didnot work with inspectors,,and honestly could have avoided all of this.

30% on the combined intelligence agencies, for getting pre-war intel wrong.

20% congress and the President, who making a consesnus decision, worked together to decide to invade Iraq. Perhaps they were to quick to act, but in the three months of debate about the subject, it is reported that many of the materials were smuggles out of Iraq while we talked and talked about it. Maybe they weren’t quick enough.

(during the war)

50% President Bush, via his choices of staff and commanders, who were unalbe to cut through the bullshit and ego’s to come to a consensus when developing a strategy. 

20% Donald Rumsfeld, for resisting trying a different strategy immediately following the realization that the Shia peoples weren’t going to help us. Based on pre- war strategy, the right amount of troops were sent, a plan was followed, but the plan was flawed. It took the military too long to adjust.

30%`( and I know you’ll rip my ass for this, you always do) the media and the liberals. In many, many cases, the same people who lauded Bill Clinton for inventing this doctrine of regime change in Iraq, have attacked President Bush since day one. Many of the folks protesting the war really don’t give a shit abotut the war. It’s the military who is taking a toll, not the population. Remember, they “loathe the military”? 

So this constant putting a bad face on every move is not a genuine protest of the war, it’s a chance to make the President look really really bad to his base. The liberals aren’t concerned with Iraq, they just cannot permit a President to be popular so long as he is pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-lower taxes and even remotely friendly with business in America.

They have been trying since before he even got elected to discredit and disgrece Bush. Remember the whole “stolen votes” fiasco? That had nothing to do with war. They are simply sick to thier stomachs at the thought of a commander-in-chief who believs is god and reads the bible. If Bush ever became popular, they’d lose thier grip on society and thier agenda would be set back decades.

(note* I am an agnostic who is personally uncomfortable with the mixture of religon and government, but I don’t let that disagreement splill over to any other subjects, like the war in Iraq)

This attempt to discredit the President has had unintended consuquences. It has disheartened our troops, it has emboldened the enemy, it has made our allies in the struggle ashamed to be on our team. And with the talk of a pullout three years ago, it has given the enemy a light at the end of the tunnel. They simply have to wait us out, let us fight among ourselves, and let the media be a partner in making this war as unpopular as possible.

Every time a news channel did a full three hours about Abu Graib, we probably extended this mess by three weeks. When ever the US is starting to look better, out come the stories of Gitmo, or Abu Graib, or the Patriot act.

This is a coordinated attack, Lee. They are trading our safety for a chance to tax the rich, have gay marriage and take the words “In God We Trust” off everything associated with the US of A. 

It sickens me.

Bush is not without fault, but I believe that everything he does is an attempt to make things better. I honestly believe that the Press runs stories that they KNOW will hurt the President, even though it may make it harder to win the war.

Remember, Lee this has been going on since 2001. It gets stuck in people’s heads after a while, and it sounds like they are making sense to you now.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/29/07 at 10:40 PM from United States

We’ve only had “In God We Trust” as our national motto since 1954. We seemed to get along just fine without it beforehand…

For conservatives, this isn’t about discrediting the President. This is about holding a president who calls himself a conservative accountable.

Of course Saddam was violating the UN resolutions and there were plenty of reasons for taking him out. But Bush decided he wanted to do it right away instead of building a real coalition like his old man did. It was Bush who decided to go to war without a plan and allowed Iraq to turn into a goatfuck while insisting we stay the course.

The moral of the Iraq mess and so many other things about this administration is: The President is responsible to the people who elected him. He is not above the law. He is not a god-king (except of course to his few remaining followers). He’s a man. And when he’s called on his mistakes and screw-ups, he should act like one instead of hiding behind yes-men like Cheney.

Posted by on 05/18/07 at 07:14 AM from United Kingdom

But Bush decided he wanted to do it right away instead of building a real coalition like his old man did. It was Bush who decided to go to war without a plan and allowed Iraq to turn into a goatfuck while insisting we stay the course.

And this is the point that I think is central. Forget for a moment who supported the war or not (whole other discussion) the arguments I was seeing over at MW back then were about the timing. The intel was faulty, but even then it wasn’t 100% proof that Saddam had WMD’s (the reason for invading RIGHT AWAY) - to assert that ‘everyone was convinced’ is simply wrong - there were a lot of people and agencies out there who were not convinced, the UN inspectors for one! Alongside this, there seemed to be precious little planning and strategising for how we were actually going to accomplish this thing. It seemed that making absolutley sure this was the best thing to do, and spending time on making sure it didn’t end up as a complete clusterfuck was taking too long for the bush administration, becasue:

if Bush did want to invade, its best to do it whilst congress couldn’t really deny him the vote

Public opinion was still high after 9/11

The more intel was coming in, then the more it was being questioned

And perhaps (possible moonbattery) there was an election coming up.

Now this is what a lot of peoples problem was - not the black/white issue of whether or not people supported the war or not - it was whether it was right to go in right away, before we were 100% convinced that he posed a threat to us.

Is Bush also King of Britain, Australia, Poland, Spain

Without sounding moonbatty - I would suggest that most of these nations would not have voted democratically for war - and that support of the Bush administration was more out of political expediency. I’m pretty sure that was the case with Blair…

cress

ps - Para, your ‘case for war’ post is awesome.

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