That last post was rather strongly worded, and I do need to apologize to the friend who sent me the e-mail. First off, understand, this guy is NOT stupid. We just disagree on politics. In all other regards I respect him and value his friendship highly. Actually, I think that if he and I ever sat down for a few hours and really discussed our views point-by-point, we're probably less far apart than it would seem.
I freely admit that I am more offended and sickened by George W. Bush and his crew of nation-destroyers than ANY 40 Neocons are offended and sickened by President Clinton AND Senator Clinton COMBINED. In many ways this is irrational - and was spawned during his FATHER's term in office. But my friends know this. That's not what got me going last week.
What sent me "postal" was something that has bothered me for years - something that started with "J", the friend I had to stop associating with because of her extreme right-wing politics and religious intolerance. Something that I hear every. single. fucking. day out of not only the blogs and commentaries by the Wrong wing, but which blew my mind to see from REUTERS.
I know that if I try and say this myself, I will screw it up again - so I am going to plagarize something that my friend Leandra wrote in another forum, because she said it better (used with permission):
I have a legitimate political question that's been bugging me for quite some time. When did breaking the law or indulging in bad behavior (even if it's not illegal) become a relative thing rather than merely right or wrong? There seems to be a sort of get out of jail free mentality in the political arena these days that renders any political gaffe or even illegal behavior ok and acceptable if you can point ot a similar situation in which another politician, preferably from the opposing party, behave equally badly or did something equally as bad or as stupid.
Since when did that sort of behavior become relative? It's ok for politician A to take a bribe because at some point in the past politician B took a bribe. The logic being that if it's ok for politician A to be a crook, it's equally ok for politician B to be one. It is ok for President A to lie to the American public because some time in the past President B lied to us. The "logic" here totally eludes me.
I see where some people say that it's ok for President Bush to have failed to get bin-Laden in Tora Bora because Bill Clinton failed to get him somewhere else. Why is it just not equally wrong in both cases, or why is each case not determined on its own merits? It's ok for Mr. Libby to lie and obstruct justice then have his sentence commuted because Mr. Clinton pardoned Mr. Rich. It's ok for some unnamed politician to release classified documents because Sandy Berger stole copies of classified documents from the National Archives and Fawn Hall smuggled similar documents out of the White House in her underwear. It was ok for Mr. Bush to misread or cherry pick faulty intelligence because Mr. Clinton also did so many years earlier.
My question is simply this: When is finger pointing at someone else's mistakes going to stop being used to excuse your own? Essentially this mindset argues that two wrongs make a right, and that one person's criminal behavior can be neutralized if you can find another crook doing something similar. Why are both actions not wrong? I believe the term I'm looking for is personal responsibility, whether it's a party or an individual.
It's time we stopped thinking this way. There is never going to be perfect equality and balance across time for all acts. Mistakes made in the past do not justify making equally bad mistakes in the present. A lie in the past doesn't justify a lie now. Bad judgment on the part of one person doesn't excuse or explain bad judgment on the part of another. Each situation stands by itself and should be judged that way. If something is wrong because a Republican does it, for instance, it's not ok for a Democrat to do the same thing as a result. The fair response is that it's equally wrong for the Democrat to do it. No conditions. No excuses. No "yes, buts".
Why have I never heard the argument that goes something like: "Yes, it's true that Congressman X did almost the exact same thing 20 years ago and got away with it. That doesn't make Congressman Y doing the same thing today right. It was wrong then and it's wrong now"?