Which is why I'm nonplussed on why Nancy Pelosi's playing with fire, here. Via Ace of Spades HQ:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is receptive to the idea of prosecuting some Bush administration officials, while letting others who are accused of misdeeds leave office without prosecution, she told Chris Wallace in an interview on "FOX News Sunday."
"I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," the California Democrat said. "And other things that are maybe time that is spent better looking to the future rather than to the past."
There's a quote out there by Alexis de Tocqueville: The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. It's quite popular, despite the fact that Congress has been busily bribing the public with the public's money since... oh, about the American Civil War. But never mind that now: I submit to all of you that the true reason that the American Republic has endured, public bribing by the legislature or no, is because of a very simple rule: political defeats do not end the game.
This cannot be emphasized enough, and it doesn't get emphasized at all. Every time that the White House changes hands, we get to read self-congratulatory epistles about how wonderfully easy and simple and painless is the transfer of power. No tanks in the street, no tense moments at the various government agencies as the crop of old political appointees leave office to make room for the new crop of political appointees; there's not even a mob. But do you know why that happens? It happens because the people leaving those jobs and positions are well aware that, when they get home, there won't be a squad of masked gunmen from the opposing faction there to murder, rape, beat up, arrest, or drag into internal exile themselves and their families.
I do not exaggerate. This can happen. Read up on a historical example of same - trust me, the Founding Fathers knew about this; that and the French Revolution is why they all mostly hated political parties in the beginning - and ask yourself whether there's been some sort of genetic mutation in the last two thousand years that would preclude the same thing happening here. Hint: there isn't. This is a road we not only don't want to go down; we don't even want to admit that there's a road in the first place.
Some of our lurkers are saying something right now on the order of Yeah, but these guys are guilty of war crimes! The problem with that is - well, there's two problems. First off, the people who say that are usually possessed of other forms of mental derangement, including the one that they're somehow good people for being against toppling dictators and protecting oppressed ethnic minorities. The second one, and the one that I was originally thinking of, is that they're a subfaction of a political faction, which makes their opinion automatically suspect when it comes to putting another political faction in jail. Put another way: just because you think that prosecuting a different strategy in the GWOT should earn the offender a lengthy prison term doesn't actually mean that you're right. No matter how many people pander to your delusion.
Don't like the way that I completely dismissed your attitude on this? Excellent: I don't much like the way that the Democrats endlessly campaigned against a war that they supported when it was their guy in charge, and that they will support when it's their guy in charge again. Guess what? I'm dealing with my dislike. I'm not planning an elaborate set of show trials when we take back Congress again - which we will - because that's not how I understand the game is supposed to be played. Ask yourself this, o lurkers: do you really want to change the rules?
Crossposted at Moe Lane.