Monday, July 16, 2007

Impeach them!?

There is quite a lot of discusion among our friends here about impeachment. I would love to impeach Bush and Cheney, and the talk of it is interesting. But there are two big problems. First, impeachment aims at the wrong target. It changes the subject from the terribleness of Republicans and their policies to specific personal crimes by two soon-to-be former politicans. Impeachment would not be for misleading us into a disastrous war, winning elections through lies and slander, shredding the Constitution, subverting the rule of law and the judiciary, enriching cronies and other rich people at everyone
else's expense, kicking the poor and the ill when they're down, squandering our resources, leaving New Orleans for dead, ignoring global warming, turning the environment over to corporate goons, destroying federal efforts to protect health and safety, or even authorizing Abu Ghraib. It would be for some specific, provable, and probably relatively minor set of offenses. The Mitch McConnells, Rudy Giulianis, Mitt Romneys, and Newt Gingriches of this world would emerge completely unscathed, although they have been the ones who made Bush-Cheney possible.

The second big problem is that there may well be no impeachable offense. Not every wrong is a crime, and the greatest wrongs are probably neither criminal nor provable. I read through the entire transcript of the Moyers interview looking for an impeachable offense, and the closest to one was "What you need to look for is a pattern of behavior that says that the presidency is superior not merely to Congress but to the laws of the land, to the rules of law. And that is why we ought to be discussing impeachment. Not because of George Bush and Dick Cheney but because we are establishing a presidency that does not respect the rule of law." Impeachment is for crimes, not contemptuous behavior or the assertion of objectionable viewpoints. For example: If Cheney claims that he doesn't have to show certain documents to Congress, that is not an offense. If a court rules that he must, and he continues to refuse, then he can be held in contempt of court, and that would be an offense. Again: If Bush claims the right to waive the Geneva Convention, that is not a legal offense. If a court rules that he must comply, and he continues to waive the Geneva Convention, that is impeachable. N'est-ce pas?


  1. But I thought that Bruce Feith and John Nichols made it clear that the issue was shredding the Constitution, tearing up the framework the Founding Fathers had instituted and ignoring the checks and balances that is the armature of this American experiment in democracy. How I love the Madison/Jefferson accomplishment!! Glad to get to hear that your friends are talking about it, but where are the Senators, other than Lahey, who have the balls to say he, our Emporer, has no clothes, and start the process. What about the NY congressional contingent? Who can put some pressure to Cheney atthe right point? And the NY Times? scared again!

  2. They did make it clear that they were mostly talking about shredding the Constitution. But that's a political crime, not a legal one as required for impeachment. However, I completely agree that the Dems, especially Hillary, should be launching an all-out attack on the cowardice, cruelty, dishonor, and thievery of Bush, Cheney, and the Republican hierarchy. They should make it clear that so-called "moderate" Republicans have a disgraceful six years to account for, and can only begin to recover their honor by becoming Democrats and leaving the party that has betrayed their alleged beliefs. I heartily recommend a wonderful new book by Drew Westen, "The Political Brain."