Sunday, October 28, 2012

Conspiracy Theory Du Jour and the Rise of the Trolls

I went nearly four years from when Sarah Palin was nominated to be GOP's candidate for Vice President without really stirring up the ire of her fans.  At least, not in ways that I noticed.  But now I have started getting tweets from folks who are big fans apparently.  And they are putting out some bait for me.  Knowing this, I take it anyway.  Why? Because I have not been blogging as much and have been pretty appalled at the leaps of logic and stunning omissions of the latest stuff.

What is the latest?  That apparently Obama should be impeached for the events in Benghazi or for covering up the "true" story, whatever that is.

The basic idea here is that Obama deserves impeaching more than Nixon and more than Clinton.  I would almost say half-right--that Obama's continuation of Bush's extensions of executive authority might make Obama more worthy of impeachment than Clinton who only perjured a bit in a legal process that little do with acts committed as President.  Almost. 

Anyhow, let's rank the acts and see which is most problematic (in temporal order so as not to give the game away):
  • Forming a secret group of folks to undermine the 1972 election through a variety of tricks and dirty deeds, and then firing various officials who sincerely want to investigate.
  • Lying about adultery.
  • Being President when the US is not omnipotent.  
Hmm, seems like the first is the worst and the last is the least in terms of abuse of the office.  We don't know the full story about what happened in Libya, but the most credible tale of events is that there was a heap of conflicting information and the Obama Administration could not wait to make annoucements until there was certainty. 

Ah, but four people died, which means that Obama committed heinous acts far worse than Nixon or Clinton.  Hmmm, if impeachment processes kicked in because an American President got people killed, then what would the ordering be?

Well, according to the Palin-ista's, Obama's count is at four.  They could not claim that the surge into Afghanistan killed heaps more Americans because their favored candidates would have done the same, so hard to count those killed in Afghanistan since 2009. 

Nixon's count is what? Zero for Watergate or thousands for perpetuating the Vietnam War?  For the invasion of Cambodia?  Didn't four American college students die at the hands of the National Guard at Kent State?  That might be a stretch, but accidents do happen, right?  Are we going to have impeachment went agents of the government kill anyone?

Clinton's count under such rules is more than four--the folks at Waco and the ill-conceived efforts in Mogadishu, right?

Ah, but if we want to impeach anyone for wasting American lives, these three Presidents would have to stand behind .... George W. Bush* who started a war with Iraq in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, that the government did not plan adequately for the aftermath, which meant an insurgency that killed thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis (not that we care about foreign folks, right?).  Plus Bush allowed his subordinates to violate American laws by allowing/ordering torture to take place and creating environments that would encourage such illegalities at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. 

I am, of course, not a legal scholar, nor am I a scholar of American politics.  Yet I cannot help but observe that impeachment is a political process--so there are no real rules for defining who should and should not be impeached.  It happens when there are enough folks in the House of Representatives willing to vote for impeaching a President (kind of like folks being denied tenure or promotion despite being deserving because there are enough people among the decision-makers who simply do not want to vote in favor).  Because Representatives actually have some accountability for taking such stances (unlike tenured professors), they do not resort to impeachment often.

Impeachment should occur when the President breaks laws especially those governing his office and when he abuses power.  That would clearly be the case for Nixon who challenged democracy itself in the US by seeking to win an election unfairly.  It would seem to be the case for Bush since he was the man at the top when the US went to war based on lies and then when the government broke its faith with some basic Constitutional provisions (that torture thing again).  It would not be the case when it comes to perjury about what Bill Clinton was doing with his dick since it really had little to do with being President (Clinton's pardons the last few days in office were far more problematic).  And it would not be the case now as Obama may not have adequately provided security to the Benghazi consulate, but did not abuse his office or break any laws that I know of in responding to the Libyan situation.  In that case, responsibility would, of course, be shared with a Republican Congress that under-funded the Department of State. 
* Not to mention Ronald Reagan for putting US Marines in harm's way in Lebanon with little serious thought about the possible dangers.  And, yes, I only mention Reagan since he is the GOP's deity that they ignore when convenient.
Of course, trying to persuade the folks who calling for impeachment now of anything is a fool's errand since they are already demonstrably reality-averse.  But it would not be the first time someone thought me to to be a fool.  And, yes, I will be wearing my jester's cap on Wednesday night ...


1 comment:

William Heller said...

So very relevant: