Monday, January 07, 2008

Going, Going, Gone

I know it's not going to happen, but the fact that there's only a year left to Bush's reign of terror isn't sufficient reason to forgo impeachment in the appropriate circumstance. And there is no clearer case than here -- the crimes and misdemeanors committed by Bush and Cheney are legion.

The latest proponent to recommend impeachment is George McGovern. In a Washington Post piece, Why I Believe Bush Must Go, he states:

As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.

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Of course, there seems to be little bipartisan support for impeachment. The political scene is marked by narrow and sometimes superficial partisanship, especially among Republicans, and a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians. So the chances of a bipartisan impeachment and conviction are not promising.

But what are the facts?

Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.

From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team's assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged -- perhaps even by a congressional investigation.

In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the United States is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion, most of which we have borrowed from the Chinese and others as our national debt has now climbed above $9 trillion -- by far the highest in our national history.

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I have not been heavily involved in singing the praises of the Nixon administration. But the case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era?

How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?

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In addition to the shocking breakdown of presidential legal and moral responsibility, there is the scandalous neglect and mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. The veteran CNN commentator Jack Cafferty condenses it to a sentence: "I have never ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans." Any impeachment proceeding must include a careful and critical look at the collapse of presidential leadership in response to perhaps the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

Impeachment is unlikely, of course. But we must still urge Congress to act. Impeachment, quite simply, is the procedure written into the Constitution to deal with presidents who violate the Constitution and the laws of the land. It is also a way to signal to the American people and the world that some of us feel strongly enough about the present drift of our country to support the impeachment of the false prophets who have led us astray. This, I believe, is the rightful course for an American patriot.


A few weeks ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer carried another impeachment plea, from Judiciary Committee members U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.), Impeach Cheney now.

I acknowledge that it would be disruptive to go through an impeachment, but I also feel that we have lost our respect for the rule of law by allowing these crimes to go unchallenged. The slippery slope analogy is important to consider as well. As I always tell clients, once an exception is made, you run the risk that it sets precedent and it may become the rule rather than the exception.

Bush and Cheney have trashed our constitution. If they are able to get away with it, isn't it easier the next time? We are slip, sliding away.


Anonymous said...

Can I just say I wholeheartedly agree with you? Even leaving out the Iraq war for now (since I realize there are people who still believe it was necessary), just the fact that Bush/Cheney have decided that they can declare anyone "an enemy combatant" and lock them away for years without trial, not to mention the wiretapping, are more than sufficient grounds for impeachment.

It's a shame that the Clinton impeachment circus soured so many on this important process. (If i didn't know better, I'd say Repubs planned it that way).

There's a book you might like to read, even though it will probably scare the h*** out of you:

JudiPhilly said...

Impeachment is one of those issues that is abhorrent to consider because of how divisive it is, but if ever there was a time when it was appropriate, this is it.

It's funny about your observation re: Clinton impeachment & the thought that the Republicans did it intentionally. I've had the same thought, see my post at The Cure.

I've heard Naomi Wolf speak before. I should check out her book. Thanks for the mention.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Thanks for directing me to that. I knew I couldn't claim original thought on the "Clinton inoculation theory" even tho I didn't really want to believe it. It just seems to tinfoil hat, as the current web parlance has it.

Of course, now that I really think about it, this overarching strategy may go all the way back to Nixon. IIRC, Nixon resigned before the actual impeachment conviction could take place, leaving open-ended the decision on whether his activities were actually unconstitutional. Since there's no settled law, that leaves it open for future Republican presidents to just make the law in practice.

One thing I do know is that Karl Rove worked for the Nixon administration. Kinda makes ya go, hmmmm, doesn't it?