Wanted: More Audacity

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Bush Administration, Congress, Democratic Party

Barack Obama says impeachment is not acceptable, according to USA Today.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out list of political shortcomings he sees in the Bush administration but said he opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.

Obama said he would not back such a move, although he has been distressed by the “loose ethical standards, the secrecy and incompetence” of a “variety of characters” in the administration.

Well, at least he’s distressed.

Obama, a Harvard law school graduate and former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said impeachment should not be used as a standard political tool.

“I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president’s authority,” he said.

I think he’d better wake up, and fast. It is becoming increasingly clear that Senator Obama is not the man we thought he was. I understand that being a front-runner for a presidential nomination makes politicians cautious. But there’s cautious, and then there’s brain dead.

I could have forgiven him, I think, had he just made some noises about impeachment being a serious matter and not something to speculate about without thorough vetting, or something like that. But to say that what’s wrong with the Bush Administration is simply a matter of incompetence and “loose ethical standards” in the midst of evidence screaming at the top of its lungs about “grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president’s authority,” is distressing.

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19 Comments

  1. PurpleGirl  •  Jun 29, 2007 @9:39 am

    He’s lost me. If what the Bush administration has done are not intentional actions that overstep constitutional authority, then I don’t know what is. Incredible.

  2. Mark  •  Jun 29, 2007 @9:53 am

    I want a POTUS who will actually defend the Constitution instead of constantly defending the notion of excessive executive powers in response to never ending national “emergencies”.

    I am feeling very sick and dispirited over the ’08 race so far.

    I’m not sure how much longer I can hang with the Dems if Gore doesn’t jump into this.

  3. Chris  •  Jun 29, 2007 @10:33 am

    Perhaps you should view this as a tactical move. Impeachment may well be warranted (like you, I believe it is – although as a UK citizen it is not my call), but the time it would take to impeach Bush would not render it beneficial except as an act of vengeance, and it would likely entrench the electorate against those calling for it (negatively affecting the next election).

    The goal, surely, is withdrawal of troops, not punishment of the current administration which is secondary.

    I feel that Obama is not out-of-line here, even though I disagree with him personally.

  4. maha  •  Jun 29, 2007 @10:42 am

    Chris — re-read the last paragraph of the post. And I disagree that withdrawal of troops is the first goal. It is the more immediate goal, certainly, but the primary goal from with all other goals flow is restoration of the balance of power and the integrity of the Constitution.

    And I don’t think in terms of “punishment” of the current administration, but of “correction.” I actually don’t much care if they are punished or not. I just want it to be made absolutely clear, beyond any shadow of doubt, that they are wrong. This is for the sake of posterity. We don’t want someone coming along in 20 or 40 or 60 years and pulling the same trick.

  5. goatherd  •  Jun 29, 2007 @10:53 am

    Given the current state of our nation, I think impeachment rises to the level of a moral imperative. Our course of action will determine what sort of nation we are and what we are to become. There is no way of knowing how much more damage will be done in the remainder of this administration, but, anyone willing to play dice with what is left of our democracy is not a worthy leader. We have a clear path to what we once knew as justice and our system has a remedy to save the state from unfit leaders. So, if not now, when? We must make the point clearly, that we will not tolerate corruption of this magnitude or we invite others to play at the same game.

    That being said, I am not optimistic. I am afraid that we will collectively put our hands in our pockets, stare at the ground and start to whistle while our ideals slide into the ashbin of history.

  6. grayslady  •  Jun 29, 2007 @10:53 am

    Obama is one of my senators, so I’ve watched him more closely than most who don’t live in Illinois. Obama is a good Democrat. He’s not a leader. He’s not even very politically savvy. And, yes, he is politically cautious. Unfortunately, I think that many potential voters have projected their *desires* onto Obama, but that doesn’t mean his is what they want him to be.

    The quotes you’ve selected here represent the real Obama–someone constantly trying not to be perceived as “too extreme”. On crucial votes during the past two years, he has usually voted progressively; but on several key issues, those votes only came after considerable constituency pressure. It seemed like he was waiting to see which way the wind was blowing, unlike Durbin, whose office could immediately tell you how Durbin intended to vote on any particular issue. Another telling difference to me is that I always receive an email back from Durbin when corresponding with him. I have never received an email back from Obama’s office–not even a cursory acknowledgment.

  7. biggerbox  •  Jun 29, 2007 @10:55 am

    Perhaps Mr. Obama could give us an example of what he considers “grave, grave”, since it apparently isn’t in this list:

    Invading a country that had not, and could not, attack us, using false pretenses to do so, detaining American citizens indefinitely without trial, tolerating torture, secret prisons and the denial of habeas corpus, eavesdropping on the communications of who knows how many American citizens without warrant and in clear violation of existing law, refusal to fire (as promised) staffers involved in exposing a covert CIA agent and destroying the cover story she and others were using, refusing to fire an Attorney General who has repeatedly misled the Congress in sworn testimony, turning the Department of Justice into a partisan tool, attempting to interfere with elections, refusing to respond to subpoenas from Congress (Article 3 in the Nixon articles), the failures around Katrina, the billions wasted by the Coalition Provisional Authority, … oh, I give up.

  8. Ann  •  Jun 29, 2007 @11:13 am

    Obama has lost me too. This does it. I have echoed the sentiments in your comment here, maha, many times to anyone who would listen. I can’t STAND the idea that these crooks will finish out their terms and ride off into the Reagan sunset to get rich(er) on the wingnut lecture circuit. Dear GOD!!!

  9. Donna  •  Jun 29, 2007 @11:15 am

    I agree that it is distressing to frame Bush’s impeachable behavior in the context of ‘political shortcomings’ rather than constitutional law [and this from a constitutional law teacher]. It is the same distress and anger I would feel if, mid-game, a bunch of referees had decided to ignore or change the baseline rules for the game.

    Anyone else remember that right around the time frame of the ’06′ election, all of a sudden, impeachment was off the table? There is a mystery surrounding this position taken by Democratic leaders. I cannot fathom the why of this, and the only positive guess I have about it is: behind the scenes, possibly the damage is severe enough from the Bush assault on our rules and government functioning, and that includes the damage within the Justice Department, that the insiders are working to stabilize, ala triage, and achieving more solid majorities before working on longer term care and restoration.

    What do the other leading candidates have to say on this topic?

  10. terry  •  Jun 29, 2007 @11:32 am

    Obama speaks well, but so did Cuomo and look where that got him. He is clearly smarter than the average politician, but that is damning with faint praise. His biggest and I think only role is to slow down the Hillary juggernaut and statements like those quoted do not help. I too pray that Gore will step up to the plate one more time in his country’s time of need.

  11. wmr  •  Jun 29, 2007 @11:33 am

    We’ve been down that road twice already. Ford pardoned Nixon, Bush pardoned Weinberger and the rest, and now look what we’ve got to show for all that clemency. Abrams, Perle, Kissinger are all still swinging their weight around the so-called executive branch.

    If we don’t open the festering wound of the Republican party to sunlight and fresh air this time, I wonder if this country will even survive “20 or 40 or 60 years”.

  12. moonbat  •  Jun 29, 2007 @11:53 am

    I’m glad Obama is showing his colors. He lost me some time ago. If the current situation isn’t “grave, grave”, I don’t know what is. Way too cautious and clueless for me, Harvard or not.

    On another note, John Dean reversed himself and now supports impeachment. I heard him speak last fall, and at that time he said impeachment would be a waste of time, and purely political, because he didn’t think the votes were there. He’s changed his mind recently.

  13. Ray Dobson  •  Jun 29, 2007 @11:57 am

    Just being pedantic, but “breeches” are trousers. The right word is “breaches”.

  14. Swami  •  Jun 29, 2007 @12:41 pm

    Evidently Obama doesn’t get the full picture; if he refers to Bush’s and Cheney’s pissing all over the Constitution, the laws, and international treaties as “shortfalls”. Maybe Obama sees himself as a scholarly statesman who can rise above the fray with magnanimity, but the reality is that if Bush and Cheney’s transgressions not held to account, then they have suceeded in destroying the concept of America as a nation under the law,where all men are equal, and nobody is above the law.

    Bush and Cheney and rest of their minions are criminals..and their claims of good intentions doesn’t make them otherwise.

  15. Ara Rubyan  •  Jun 29, 2007 @12:50 pm

    Impeachment is equal to indictment — not removal from office. Obama (constitutional scholar that he is) should understand that.

    And the founders created it as a check on the power of a runaway executive. Obama should know that too.

    If Cheney and/or Bush are not subjected to impeachment now (if not conviction) then future presidents will be emboldened to grab even more power the next time.

  16. biwah  •  Jun 29, 2007 @2:43 pm

    Obama’s point was that under the circumstances it is better to “vote the bums out.”

    Statements like Swami’s:

    if Bush and Cheney’s transgressions not held to account, then they have suceeded in destroying the concept of America as a nation under the law,where all men are equal, and nobody is above the law.

    … are common enough, but shrill and over the top. The transgressions of this admin are serious, but above all, impeachment will backfire. The Dems failed to bring the troops home, to convincingly address earmarks, and other ’06 promises. A three-ring impeachment circus in wartime and during a presidential campaign WILL exhaust the public’s patience and be fodder for charges that the dems are just getting down in the mud with the GOP.

    This is not a concern troll talking, although I do support Obama. It WILL be sweeter to beat them in the election than to slog through an impeachment process for which we lack the necessary votes, and which will take the public’s eye off the future.

    I respect the argument for impeachment, but ultimately doubt that the “concept of America” will be destroyed without it – and agree with Obama that it’s all about ’08 and beyond, not about 2003.

  17. maha  •  Jun 29, 2007 @3:25 pm

    biwah — I disagree that impeachment would backfire, for reasons explained here.

    http://www.mahablog.com/2007/06/29/fear-itself/

  18. Christopher  •  Jun 29, 2007 @6:48 pm

    I’m glad to see the subject of Barack Obama’s interview and his timidness vis a vis impeaching George Bush, covered here.

    I covered the interview first thing this morning on my blog and the response from my readers came swiftly and is running almost 100% against Obama for joining Nancy “impeachment is off the table” Pelosi in giving Bush a pass.

    Too bad more of the left-leaning blogosphere hasn’t covered this important subject. Especially, in an election year and with Obama being one of the Democratic front runners.

  19. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 30, 2007 @4:53 am

    While I disagree with what Obama said, I can understand his caution.
    He’s the first African-American who has a viable shot at the Presidency (sorry Shirley Chisholm, Jesse, and Al). He doesn’t want to be seen as too far left.
    Our Democrat’s are cautious, because they don’t think they can get an impeachment in the current Congress. It would pass the House. But, will Session’s vote for it? Dominici? Very doubtful.
    If the Senate doesn’t echo the House vote, there would be no impeachment. And them people would view the process as excessive. They will, hoplefully, want to presecute the villains after 2008.
    With all of that said, IMPEACH THE %@&$ING BASTARD”S!!! Put them in front of the Hague. These people are War Criminal’s and need to be treated as such.
    These evil clowns make Nixon look like a piker…

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