A Journey of Revenge

September 3rd, 2009

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves — one for yourself.

That’s a slightly modified version of a quote supposedly from Confucius.  The Obama Administration and congressional Democrats would do well to think about it.  Seeking revenge against political opponents formerly in power by attempting to criminalize and incarcerate them is a slippery slope that quickly leads to a never-ending cycle of banana-republic politics.

Some of the hounds baying on the trail of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. are motivated by still-burning rage over the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  It was a close thing, and Clinton was pretty clearly guilty of the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.  He came within one vote of being convicted in the Senate on the obstruction charge and six votes of being convicted on the perjury charge.  A federal judge later found him guilty of contempt for failing to testify truthfully, and he was punished.  I thought at the time that the impeachment was excessive, and I still think so.  Nevertheless, continuing to pursue Bush after having failed to impeach him when he was in office is small-minded and ill-advised.

Others still sting with resentment over the fact that Bush and the Republicans denied them their rightful place in leadership of the country.  Like Rome at Carthage, it isn’t enough just to defeat them — they have to be slaughtered or sold into slavery and the ground beneath them salted and plowed-over. 

Moreover, Democrats still smart over the 2000 presidential election, which despite all evidence to the contrary they believe was stolen from them.  They won’t, or can’t, consider the fact that a number of less-ambiguous factors accounted for their loss in that election — the presence of Nader in the Florida election,  Gore’s inability to carry his home state, the poorly-managed Gore campaign, and the weaknesses of the candidate himself. 

However, logic doesn’t count for much when the hounds are on the scent and the hunters in a frenzy to kill.  The most likely outcome of their thirst for revenge will be a circular ambush, where they end up blowing each other away.  This will come in the form of the people becoming thoroughly disgusted with them for placing their thirst for revenge above the welfare of the country, even to the point of being willing to seriously damage our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks.

David Broder, an intelligent and respected political reporter with decades of experience, and certainly no conservative, said this in his column today: 

Cheney is not wrong when he asserts that it is a dangerous precedent when a change in power in Washington leads a successor government not just to change the policies of its predecessors but to invoke the criminal justice system against them.

Leon Panetta, the conscientious director of the Central Intelligence Agency who, earlier in his government career, resigned to protest the policies of the Nixon administration in which he was serving, has disagreed with Holder’s decision. He says it will have a harmful effect on the morale and operations of his agency, which has already taken strong steps to correct the policies he inherited. …

In times like these, the understandable desire to enforce individual accountability must be weighed against the consequences. This country is facing so many huge challenges at home and abroad that the president cannot afford to be drawn into what would undoubtedly be a major, bitter partisan battle over prosecution of Bush-era officials. The cost to the country would simply be too great.


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12 Responses to “A Journey of Revenge”



  1. Brian Bagent |

    Well said, though I would add that there is ample precedent for prosecuting those who were “just following orders.”

    If they really want to pursue this, they would do well to find someone like Bob Barr to execute this thing, otherwise it will have all the makings of a political witch hunt.


  2. Tom |

    “Just following orders” is a reference to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi murderers. What we’re talking about is light-years away from anything like that.


  3. GraySpirit |

    With so many deep structural problems in America today, you’d think that our politicians (whether on the right or the left) would spend more time and effort trying to fix these problems rather than trying to make political statements and getting themselves on the news. Somehow, government has become too obsessed with image over substance. Nice article.


  4. larry |

    Tom
    Do you think the majority of Americans are concerned at all? It’s strictly a dog and pony show. I’m more inclined to question why the Democrats tend to pamper the terrorist. The torture and beheading of Daniel Pearl far exceeds anything done by the CIA.


  5. doris |

    I am a Democrat, my entire life, and I do not want the terrorists pampered, that’s why generalizations do not fly. I also think it a ridiculous thing to go after the past administration for anything. They did their time screwing up our country, now it’s our turn to screw it up. We need to move forward, not back. Fix the problems we can and change the procedures if we don’t like them, but to punish for ordered and appropriate measures is wrong, a true Democrat, not a left wing liberal, thinks. When you plot revenge, you are drinking poison and waiting for the object of your revenge to die.


  6. Tom |

    Doris, I completely agree. There is way too much extremism these days from both the far left and the far right. Barack Obama is not a socialist or a communist or the antichrist or a would-be tyrant. George Bush was not a Nazi, a fascist, a religious freak, or an ignorant cowboy. Disagreeing with people on the other side of political questions is fine — demonizing everyone who disagrees with one’s opinions is absurd.


  7. Brian Bagent |

    Tom, true enough, but we are talking about a political witch hunt. The analogy doesn’t need to be even remotely close for Holder and the rest of that crowd to pursue it.


  8. Harvey |

    There are no absolute truths — life is so full of generalizations that we become unaware of them . . . except when they touch too close to home! It is then that the hackles rise and teeth are bared in defense of whatever sacred belief we believed has been besmirched.

    When Larry said: “I’m more inclined to question why the Democrats tend to pamper the terrorist.” he is not speaking literally of ALL Democrats but neither is he speaking without a factual basis for the allegation — you’ve all see it yourselves — and in a Democratic administration with Democratic majority who else can be blamed?

    To use your examples Tom: When someone says (as I have) that: ‘Barack Obama is a socialist or a communist’, taking it literally is totally absurd; they are saying that there is ample documentation — in his own words — that he has those tendencies — they are not saying he has pledged his allegiance to either philosophy. If someone were to say that President Bush (the younger) is a “religious freak” they are referring to the many out of place religious references he made during public appearances, they are not saying that he speaks in tongues or handles snakes.

    If we cannot use generalizations when we speak (or write) every sentence will become a catalog of exceptions and every article a 300-page book.


  9. Brian Bagent |

    Harvey, I actually believe that he is philosophically a Marxist.

    Here are the 10 Planks of Communism (with commentary).


  10. doris |

    You should interpret this yourself, not them interpret it for you. We are not nearly that far gone and I am pretty sure we have no law enforcing sterilization. I could make all that up, too. I own property in the country and no one has tried to take it. Hogwash, I say. Radical and instigating to those who will believe anything, our country is not now, nor will ever be communist, of that I am positive. Obama is not now, nor will he ever be one, either. I don’t love and adore him, but this is really out there in gaga land, to compare us to that. I guess you really don’t believe these wrong comparisons.


  11. Brian Bagent |

    Doris, do you think I am so shallow that I cannot understand or need someone to spoon-feed me things? There is nothing to interpret, as these facts speak for themselves.

    We do have a heavy progressive income tax. We do have onerous estate taxes. Property is confiscated for all sorts of specious reasons. We do have a centralized bank, and have had one since 1913. One of the first articles I wrote here was an effort to get our readers to wake up to the fact that the Federal Reserve is the greatest danger to our liberty that we have faced in our lives.

    Don’t you think that the federal government paying farmers to NOT grow things or to grow things for which there is no market represents at least nominal control of agriculture? More than that, how about the ridiculous corn subsidies so that we can put ethanol in our gas tanks?

    Since Carter, we have had a Federal Department of Education. I cannot even see a reason for its existence, as national standardized scores have done nothing but go down since its inception. Our teenagers now rank near the bottom in science and math when compared to the rest of the world. For a variety of reasons, private schools do a much better job of educating our kids for a great deal less money per student than public schools.

    As far as your property out in the country, are you aware that if some stranger surreptitiously grows marijuana or manufactures methamphetamine on your land that the DEA can seize it, and if you want it back, you have to prove in federal court, at your own expense, that you had nothing to do with the drugs? Are you aware that the IRS can, without even notifying you, levy your bank accounts? And trust me, the bank isn’t going to refund you all of your NSF fees if it ever happens to you.


  12. doris |

    No of course,I don’t think you shallow,far from it.I think you far too intelligent to go for these conspiracy theories and “proof” that we are somehow communist?Not hardly,we are free to vote,own property,go to private school,leave this country,complain in print about our country,not allowed in communist states.There are tons of freedoms we have,if we don’t want to work,we can go hungry or apply for Gov. aide.We can own guns and use them to protect our property from drug growers and supposedly,we will know what goes on on our own property.I agree that the corn subsidies are absurd.I really think you know,I would never think you couldn’t understand anything,I meant other,not so informed guys,like me.Income taxes are not higher than they were during Reagan.


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