President Gerald Ford once noted, "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is also big enough to take it all away." Remarkable insight from an unremarkable president.
As the impeachment trial limps toward an awkward conclusion we have heard, are hearing and will continue to hear a lot of rhetoric about Justice, The Rule of Law, Facts in Evidence, partisan myopia, yada, yada, yada. ...
These discussions have both blessed and cursed civilized society for thousands of years. The central theme in two dialogues of Plato was a discussion of Justice. He outlined a conflict of diametric opposites. He explored it as the conflict between the exponents of right:
The hypocrisy of the Clintonistas knows no bounds. "No background check ... no gun" said President Clinton recently. He is seeking to increase the requirements for gun show participants seeking to purchase a gun. "No background check ... no gun."
The same president, who has made a career of redefining words like "is," the president who personally could not pass a FBI background check, is raising the bar for would be gun buyers who still think the Bill of Rights is valid. The president who has routinely and consistently avoided background checks for staffers who couldn't pass a background check wants to raise the bar for you and me. Yeah, this is the same guy who provided Monica Lewinsky with a higher security clearance than a Special Forces operational detachment commander has.
The president who established a new precedent by allowing his attorney general designee to be confirmed without a background check, is changing the rules ... for everyone except himself and his co-conspirators.
In the history of war, Plato tells the story of the Melian episode by way of example. Kinda sounds like a Star Trek episode, huh? He dramatically constructs a conversation between the Athenian envoys and the representatives of Melos (which was a little island colony of Sparta which had refused to buckle under the aggression of Athens).
The folks from Melos recognized the superior force of the aggressors. The Melians went into the conference with a sense of futility (kinda like Republicans limping into the impeachment trial). The Melians understood that if they insisted upon their RIGHTS and refuse to submit, they could and would anticipate nothing to result from the negotiations other than war, defeat, and slavery. They understood two key facts: one, they were right on principle ... and two, it didn't mean Jack without the muscle to back it. "Might MAKES right. ..."
The Athenians replied with a frankness that is rare in the diplomatic exchanges of today (and although implied, NEVER openly articulated in our current national drama). They told the Melians that they would not waste time with specious pretenses "either of how we have a right to our empire ... or are now attacking you because of a wrong you have done us." Why make a long speech, they said, which would not be believed? Instead they went directly to the point and put the matter simply, or, as we now say, realistically ... an ancient Greek reality check. "You know as well as we do ... that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, whereas the stronger do whatever they can the weaker suffer whatever they must." THAT is candor. THAT is sad reality. THAT is what has, is, and will happen. Life ain't fair! Then again, notwithstanding lofty philosophical diatribe, most of us never got the memo anyway. There was nothing left for the Melians to do except appeal to expediency. Gosh, doesn't that sound familiar? "You debar us from talking about justice and invite us to obey your interest," they replied to the Athenians.
Now here's the weird part about the previous historical anecdote. The Athenians were the heavies, but they had the clout to back up their wants and needs. The political reality was that it didn't matter WHAT was right or wrong. ... Whomever had the superior force of arms, could and would prevail. OK, fast forward to the Congress of today ... the Republicans have two advantages in their conflict with the Clinton administration: one, they enjoy superior numbers; and two, they have the moral high ground. They have the "might" and if anyone objectively were to analyze the facts in evidence and history of precedent ... they are right. HOWEVER, notwithstanding superior force, and despite the apparent moral imperative, they are proving unable to win what in any other situation would be a foregone conclusion. Why?
In my opinion, the might of the evil empire is greater than the perceived might of the numerically superior GOP. Republicans lack the courage, principles, or character to do what is necessary, and Democrats are so poisoned by partisan pettiness they remain in denial of their monumental hypocrisy.
In The Republic, Plato has Thrasymachus say, "I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger. ... The different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by them from their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust. And this is what I mean when I say that in all states there is the same principle of justice which is in the interest of the government; and as the government must be supposed to have power, the only reasonable conclusion is that everywhere there is one principle of justice which is in the interests of the stronger."
Clinton and his co-conspirators are stronger than their opponents, stronger than their critics, and apparently stronger than right.
Despite the partisan nose count, the Clinton cabal enjoys superior might. Regardless of whether the might is a function of FBI files, or perceptions of difficult future elections, history will record several items the co-opted fourth estate has not, and the cowardly Congress will not.