The Other “I” Word

Following up on this morning’s post, “Twenty Thousand Troops” … as a member of the Citizen’s Impeachment Commission I’ve been getting many earnest emails calling for a stepup in pro-impeachment activism. For example, is promoting December 10 as “Human Rights and Impeachment Day.”

You probably heard that, before the midterms, Nancy Pelosi said that impeachment was “off the table.”

Pelosi called impeachment “a waste of time,” and suggested Republicans — who have controlled the House for 12 years — would make political hay out of it if Democrats tried to impeach Bush.

“Wouldn’t they just love it if we came in and our record as Democrats coming forth after 12 years is to talk about George Bush and Dick Cheney? This election is about them. This is a referendum on them. Making them lame ducks is good enough for me.”

I’m about to explain why I support impeachment, and why I think it’s a mistake to push for it right this minute.

I believe strongly that Bush and Cheney should not be allowed to serve to the ends of their terms if they continue to operate outside the Constitution and ignore the laws of Congress. Congress must not allow extra-constitutional precedents to be set, which is what they will be doing if they simply wait out Bush. For the sake of the Constitution, history, and future generations, proper separation of powers must be re-established in the next two years.

However, I’ve been around the block enough times to know that unless impeachment has widespread popular support, and support among a substantial number of prominent Republicans, there will be a nasty backlash that could put the wingnuts back in power. And as unpopular as Bush is, I don’t think the public or many Republicans are ready to get on board the impeachment bandwagon. Yet.

Here’s my plan:

Before we chant the “I” word, everyone interested in reining in Bush — whether you call yourself a liberal, progressive, leftie, Democrat, libertarian, neomugwump, whatever — should be chanting the other “I” word — Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.

Congress must confront Bush on Iraq. Congress must use all of its Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 8, paragraphs 11 -14, and insist that U.S. policy will be a withdrawal. No delays, no excuses, no signing statements. Bush should be given a deadline for the withdrawal to be completed, and that deadline should have a firm 2007 date.

Would Congress do this? I think that enough politicians in both parties want Iraq: The Issue to be defused before the 2008 campaign heats up. And the midterms proved that being perceived as an enabler of George W. Bush is political death. I think many Republicans who have supported the war up til now will be persuaded to grandstand against it if that will save their political butts in 2008.

So, Congress should make a bipartisan demand that Bush order a withdrawal from Iraq. And if he refuses — and I am certain he will — then impeach the bastard. Then American people will understand why it has to be done, and they will support it. And if the effort is seen as bipartisan — as was Nixon’s almost-impeachment back in the day — there won’t be much of a backlash. Instead of being viewed as just more tiresome partisan bickering, the effort will be remembered as one of America’s finest hours.

I guess you could say that we not only have to be on the high ground on this — I believe we are already — but before we can act, there has to be a broad, bipartisan recognition that we are on the high ground.

And if the ongoing investigations by Waxman, Conyers, et al. turn up half as many White House scandals as I think they will, Republicans will want to throw Bush under the bus. And a mighty chorus will break forth on Capitol Hill — impeach, impeach, impeach.

27 thoughts on “The Other “I” Word

  1. I have to agree with you. I think if enough investigations get moving and come up with the goods to nail them quick enough on enough scandels (and where to even start, there’s so many!) the republicans will be so desperate to get rid of him before the election they’ll play along and do the right thing for once.

  2. C’mon, Maha. You know the Dems don’t have the spine to go toe-to-toe with Bush. They’re anxious to avoid a Constitutional crisis for the same reason they’re anxious to avoid impeachment- the Republicans will band together and flog them with it.

    I know that you and Greenwald have counseled hope, and I have been a loyal follower. But now that we’ve won the election, what’s the first thing that happens? Hoyer as Majority Leader in the House. He’s every bit as much War Party as any member of the Administration.

    I guess I’m just tired, because I despair of changing the Dems enough to get principled and smart representation in D.C.

  3. I third that. Use the Wingnuts’ loathing of Bush against him. Stoke it, let it build, and then hang Iraq around his neck and retire him to his newly-purchased estate down in Paraguay.

  4. After having impatiently awaited the mid terms, a few more months are worth the continued wait. Hope you’re right about the success of the Conyers and Waxman investigations bringing to light the atrocities we already know and then some. Then the mighty chorus can begin; but impeachment will and should not be enough.

  5. I fourth that, unless I post too late, in which case it’s a fifth – of Jack Daniels. Seriously, I agree with your reasoning and I would like to suggest a powerful reason. Consider that there is strong (if not conclusive) evidence that the White House decided to invade Iraq, and THEN looked for reasons. That’s the wrong sequence for decision-making.

    Impeachment needs to work the same way. We can’t decide to impeach, and THEN look for evidence. We have the power to make public the truth, with irrefutable testimony and evidence exactly what this administration is doing. Bush will demand Republicans support him to the bitter end. Supporting Bush is looking more and more like a suicide pact after the last election.

    Play your cards right and Republicans may bring forth the call to impeach.

  6. This is a sound approach. I hope that the election of ‘K-Street Hoyer’ don’t derail Pelosi.

    Hah! Jes ’cause Murtha didn’t git the nod don’t mean he’s gonna shut his pie hole.

    No, I really don’t think that will happen.

  7. I agree too…and made a fe points here.

    But I also fully believe that what ever the outcome of an impeachment action (or even it it never comes to pass)…Bush will be tried for war crimes once he out of office. There are the two memos being sought for
    “he first as a “directive” signed by Bush governing CIA interrogation methods or allowing the agency to set up detention facilities outside the United States. McPherson describes it as a “memorandum.” In September, Bush confirmed the existence of secret CIA prisons and transferred 14 remaining terrorism suspects from them to Guantanamo Bay.

    The second document is an August 2002 legal memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA general counsel. The ACLU describes it as “specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top al-Qaeda members.” (WaPo).

    There is no statute of limitations I know of for these kinds of War Crimes – and even the Military Tribunals legislation did not abdicate he responsiblity to abide by the Geneva Conventions on this…or provide retroactive immunity for a case against these War Criminals. (and Rummy too!)

    I wouldn’t object to impeaching both Bush & Cheney…and then trying them for these War Crimes.

  8. C’mon, Maha. You know the Dems don’t have the spine to go toe-to-toe with Bush. They’re anxious to avoid a Constitutional crisis for the same reason they’re anxious to avoid impeachment- the Republicans will band together and flog them with it.

    Have you not noticed that even Republicans have cut Bush loose? Keep up.

  9. In what ever order changes take place, I will be anxious for a return to our heritage of being a nation of laws under the Constitution.

    I suspect that the Republican party knew months ago that they were going to be in trouble with voters by siding with the constitution-shredding child-egoist Bush. I think they gave him that last minute nefarious Military Commission Act, not because they thought it would pass constitutional muster, but primarily to give him a wisp of a chance for ‘retroactive immunity’ as one plea bargaining chip when the day comes that all the chips are laid down, and all the investigative cards are face up showing the world the covered up secrets behind the reign of the torturer-in-chief.

    The Republicans are turning on Bush, cutting him loose to try to salvage themselves. It will be an interesting couple of years, to see how each political party positions itself with respect to K Street, earmarks, war profiteering, media reform, election reform, and energy independence.

    The most troubling thing I have read since the election is the way that Carville is going after Howard Dean. Bizarre stuff: since Dems swept such a swath in the whole country, you would think that Carville would appreciate Dean’s grassroots foundation-building……..unless the DLC is threatened by real democracy, that is.

  10. I would like to see Bush/Cheney impeached but I don’t think it would get the party anywhere and would hurt the Democratic party in the long run, meaning in the next election cycle. I think extremists on the rightie side would get out their long knives and, frankly, I’m rather enjoying the relative quiet we are experiencing right now.

  11. Maybe the democrats can devise some sort of mechanism by way of resolution that would allow politicians to get clear of the pending defeat in Iraq for their own future political considerations. They could call it the Pilate amendment… 🙂 The purpose would be to identify the invasion of Iraq as a mistake without assigning actual blame, to give political cover to those who support a continued presence as only being necessary to minimize the damage created by the invasion. And it would in essence acknowledge our defeat in Iraq ( which seem to be Bush’s biggest challenge).
    I noticed that in the AUMF they put forth parts of their resolution in the context of ” we believe” and not in stated facts. By the same token why can’t congress resolve to say “we believe” it’s time to withdraw from Iraq?
    Bush, like a tick, has buried himself deep in the flesh of denial and the only way to extract him is by applying some heat to his ass and make him back up and come out into reality.

  12. If he’s taken out for reasons of incompetency hopefully it’ll mean the end of this latest age of political opportunism… for a while at least.

    I’m curious what the Bush clan elders are really brainstorming about, and if it’d reveal just how much of a puppet junior really is.

  13. I would like to see Bush/Cheney impeached but I don’t think it would get the party anywhere and would hurt the Democratic party in the long run, meaning in the next election cycle. I think extremists on the rightie side would get out their long knives and, frankly, I’m rather enjoying the relative quiet we are experiencing right now.

    Hell, the extremists throw a fit every time a liberal is allowed to breathe. When we tip toe around trying not to set them off we’re not only kidding ourselves, we’re letting them win. Bleep that.

    The name of the game is moving the center back to the center. If enough prominent Republicans sign on to at least part of the plan, the extremists who holler about it will be sufficiently marginalized to be politically impotent.

    Remember, after Nixon was forced to resign in August 1974, the Dems picked up 48 House seats and five Senate seats in the 1974 midterms. Dems took the White House two years after that. Not much of a backlash, huh?

    But Nixon resigned after senior members of the Republican Party told him to. Too much information was coming out in the congressional hearings, and a large number of Republicans in Congress were working as hard as Democrats to get at the truth. No one was going to be able to protect Nixon any more, even if they had wanted to, so Nixon was advised to spare his party the disgrace and resign before impeachment.

    As unpopular as Bush is even before serious investigation begins, I can’t imagine many politicians risking their own careers to protect him.

  14. I agree Maha, with the provision that the word impeachment should at least be used in the context “not right now”.
    Waxman , Conyers, Waters, and their colleges need more time to turn over numerous rocks to expose the nasty little creatures like the orcs at the AEI, perhaps squeeze Abramoff’s huevos until he sings, etc, etc.
    The horror is while they wait, the carnage in Iraq will continue, and the bill will grow. the patient may expire while the doctors debate the cure for the disease.(and the disease may spread)

  15. I believe the evidence for impeachment is already there; it just needs to be consolidated. However, I do also believe that holding hearings and gathering more evidence would be good. I am willing to wait for that process provided it is done expeditiously. The hearings will help those Americans who are unsure to make a decision when witnessing the evidence. I think this would also be the best way to win the needed Republican support for impeachment.

    However, I do disagree with the idea of the Dems not doing it because “it will look partisan.” Clinton’s impeachment was partisan–it looked it and it was. But, that did not stop the Repugs from doing it.

    I believe impeachment of Bush and Cheney is necessary and important for the country because it is the right thing to do. They have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” They have broken the law and need to be held accountable. Perhaps, it isn’t realistic to think any one from Congress will do something because it is the right thing to do; but, that is the hope I hold. It isn’t partisan if it is the right thing and the best thing to do for the country.

  16. Bonnie, I so agree with what you wrote.
    I see impeachment as a necessary medicine to cure the confusion created by this executive branch about what it means to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
    Investigations will focus us upon that basic American legal foundation and give all Americans a contrast between the wrong-doing of a president who lied about sex and the wrong-doing of one who lied to create a war that has killed more of our citizens than Al Qaida did on 9/11. Americans can get behind discipline when it is administered to uphold law and defend the Constitution.
    The Republicans who went after Clinton shamed us in the world’s eyes for the utter pettiness of the Lewinsky issue. By contrast, Democrats going after a torture-promoting president will begin to restore our national honor at home and abroad.

  17. The Republicans would undoubtedly try to frame an impeachment effort as some kind of payback for Clinton, and not an effort that has any merit of its own. I know it’s absurd, but I’m pretty sure they would take that tack. (Just imagine Limbaugh saying, “Those liberals have just been waiting to even the score on that one, folks, and now they’re trying to impeach the president over a war they all voted for …”) Hey, it doesn’t have to be true for him to say it.

    I think we need to anticipate their reaction and frame the effort in such a way as to block that kind of spin.

  18. How about just going after Cheney – has a VP ever been impeached? He is the foundation – get rid of him and Georgie will run off tucking his tail behind him. And this may not be too far off. Abramoff is singing and Plamegate will rear its head sooner or later.

  19. I think we need to anticipate their reaction and frame the effort in such a way as to block that kind of spin.

    That’s why it’s important to get the Republicans to sign on to the program, as they did with Nixon.

  20. That’s one idea. The other idea is to do exactly what Bush did with Rumsfeld’s firing. Admit brazenly that you lied before the election because you “didn’t want to inject that issue into the campaign.” Bush seems to have paid no political price with the press corpse for having admitted openly that he lied to their face just before an election. Maybe the press will respond positively (i.e. with craven fawning cowardice) upon being treated by the Democratic leadership with an equally direct dose of contempt. It’s worked for the rethugs!

  21. The deal is this. any investigations, real ones, are going to find felonies piled up under the rugs at the white house. the question is what will they do when they find the evidence of these crimes? Will only Dems pursue them or will any Republicons have the integrity to join in? Nixon would never have left town if Republicans had not joined in. who has integrity now? that is the question.

  22. “who has integrity now?”

    I think that if it becomes a matter of self-preservation, many of them will find a remarkable amount of integrity.

  23. Taking impeachment off the table was a nice move. And so reversible: she can just allow the investigations to force the issue, best would be to let things get so ugly that a Republican ends up proposing impeachment and the Democrats reluctantly decline to obstruct it.

    But if investigation is not pursued and followed up on, then we’ve been cheated of our votes and efforts. One mandate seems clear to me: the People want the Republicans leashed and spanked.

  24. Pingback: The Mahablog » Our Last, Best Hope?

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