Comments: Who Cares What Your Motives Are?

Who cares?
Mostly, the folks who are gonna find themselves seated across from Addington/Fredo/Whitman, armed with sharp implements, at Sally Quinn's next soirée...

Posted by konopelli/wgg at December 13, 2007 11:59 AM

Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional,
There, the guy who's got religion'll
Tell you if your sin's original.

Posted by hapa at December 13, 2007 12:11 PM

When you attend a funeral,
It is sad to think that sooner,
Or later those you love will do the same for you.

And you may have thought it tragic,
Not to mention other adjectives,
To think of all the weeping they will do.

But don't you worry.

Posted by darrelplant at December 13, 2007 12:25 PM

According to Senator Obama even George Bush meant well. He was merely "incompetent".

Obama: "From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon. They don't think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent".
http://obama.senate.gov/blog/050930-tone_truth_and_the_democratic_party/index.html

Posted by Don Bacon at December 13, 2007 12:57 PM

Drogin and Goldsmith seem to have reached middle age without understanding the most obvious reality of human nature: EVERYONE THINKS THEY'RE DOING THE RIGHT THING. Everything is "a story of human frailty."

Ha! I learned this in Philosophy 101 at eighteen years old, when we were told how Socrates had first put forth the idea that people were incapable of doing anything they really thought was wrong. (e.g., even if forced to commit some horrible act with a gun pressed to the back of your head, you still thought that preserving your life was more important than dying for some principle of morality or defiance, therefore going along with the demands was "the right thing to do".)

Posted by Upside Down Flag at December 13, 2007 01:00 PM

Wasn't it Aung San Suu Kyi who said it was not Power that corrupts but FEAR instead? So yes, I think that no matter what, the REASONS are important even if the consequences are the same. If Power corrupts, remove the source of power, if Fear corrupts, remove the source of fear etc..

Posted by En Ming Hee at December 13, 2007 01:01 PM

One of the pleasures of reading this blog is that it so often plows the old familiar furrows. Tom Lehrer lyrics! Who knew you'd be reading them here in the 21st century?

I'm reminded of another familiar pleasure from the 20th century - in the underrated movie "The Zero Effect", Jerry Stiller's character tells Bill Pullman's character, "There aren't evil guys and innocent guys. It's just... It's just... It's just a bunch of guys."

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at December 13, 2007 01:06 PM
I learned this in Philosophy 101 at eighteen years old, when we were told how Socrates had first put forth the idea that people were incapable of doing anything they really thought was wrong.

Right, me too. I was thinking of mentioning that -- I mean, don't you have to read Plato to get to be a fancy Harvard law professor, like Goldsmith?

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at December 13, 2007 01:13 PM

Yeah, well, you'd hurt Stalin's feelings with talk like that, so I hope you'd have had the decency to keep these cynical thoughts to yourself if you'd lived under his well-intentioned rule.

Posted by Donald Johnson at December 13, 2007 01:15 PM

lehrer quote was a coda to its earlier appearance here -- i was thinking, asking a politician if party leaders are bad news is like asking a priest about the fallibility of the pope; it depends who you are, what answer you get

Posted by hapa at December 13, 2007 01:25 PM

The founders of this country get over-revered in many ways, but they should get full credit for their application of this basic insight to the structure of the U.S. constitution.

It doesn't matter who you are, how noble your motives, etc. The checks and balances, the explicit statement that no one is to be above the law, and the several mechanisms for putting that idea into practice were the result of their deep grasp of a truth that is apparently beyond all the Villagers. (It's not, of course, beyond them; their livelihoods just depend on their not grasping it.)

Posted by Nell at December 13, 2007 03:19 PM
The checks and balances, the explicit statement that no one is to be above the law, and the several mechanisms for putting that idea into practice were the result of their deep grasp of a truth that is apparently beyond all the Villagers.

Yeah, although this mechanism doesn't seem to be working as designed. The idea as I understand it was that Congress should have gotten extremely jealous of their prerogatives some time ago. Yet I have yet to spot this jealousy, even way off on the horizon.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at December 13, 2007 03:53 PM

Come on guys (Jonathan and Upside Down Flag), the act of reading something somewhere may teach but undoubtedly really grasping and plumbing the depth of this piece of human psychology that's at stake here involves more (ripeness, wisdom even). Which is why I actually think is a truly magnificant post on which I congratulate you!

Posted by Paul at December 13, 2007 04:03 PM

"We should often feel ashamed of our best actions if the world could see all the motives which produced them."

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Posted by atheist at December 13, 2007 04:35 PM

Thanks! I feel the same way.

Also, Addington and the gang knew what they were doing was far outside of mainstream legal opinion, for just one example. There's a reason Cheney undermined all vetting and a rational decision-making process. He knew it wouldn't fly.

These guys have always been about getting their way, not trying to do the right thing. It's not as if they were trying to do their best and just made a few little, err, made many completely disastrous mistakes.

Apologists are almost always trying to rescue their own reputations by proxy, while still trashing the folks who got it right in the first place, for all the right reasons.

Say, double or nothing or Iran?

Posted by Batocchio at December 13, 2007 04:57 PM

YOU NEVER KNOW if you are doing right or wrong any more, I can't tell my ac's from my dc's any more. Ya know how I've been pushing Nancy's number (1-202-225-0100) with that OUTING A CIA AGENT IS TREASON, line---Well tonight, on NPR I hear this guy say that WE couldn't make the Muslins believe WE loved them without destroying those tapes. So now I'm thinking "Maybe DEADEYE is smarter than WE think, maybe it really is OK to OUT A CIA AGENT." OF COURSE IT'S NOT HIS ONLY CRIME----Call Nancy anyway (1-202-225-0100) and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2007 07:16 PM

The boogyman in the NPR story----YOUTUBE as in" My GOD WE can never let YOU TUBE get those tapes!!!"
So from now on, if I WANT OVERSIGHT, I'LL WATCH YOUTUBE.

Posted by Mike Meyer at December 13, 2007 07:21 PM

WTF? Good lord, does this make ANY sense whatsoever?

I admired and respected Addington, even when I thought his judgment was crazy.

I must be a mutant, because if I think someone has crazy judgment, and a position of influence + power, the first thing I feel is fear, and the next thing is loathing because they're busy exercising their crazy judgment all over my sorry ass. This condescending view that crazy judgment people have toward democracy, the republic, the law and human rights are enough for (non Yale/law-school) people to go ballistic.

It's like saying, "Yes, there is logic and moral consistency in respecting and admiring lunatics in power. But really, I should get credit and maintain credibility simply for recognizing that they're lunatics. Can I be your geopolitical/constitutional adviser?"

I'm weak and unsophisticated: I can't get my head around this notion of admiring crazy judgment in power or matters of law.

Posted by Ted at December 14, 2007 10:00 AM
The idea as I understand it was that Congress should have gotten extremely jealous of their prerogatives some time ago. Yet I have yet to spot this jealousy, even way off on the horizon.

class conspiracy wouldn't have struck members of such a thoroughly-isolated elite as much of a problem....

Posted by hapa at December 15, 2007 07:13 PM