Right Thinking From The Left Coast
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

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Reasons or Excuses

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 in Deep Thoughts • Permalink


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