Impeachment Follow-Up – It’s All About Principles!

Sometimes, you just
have to do the right thing.


In the last few days,
since I wrote my first piece detailing the case for impeachment, I have
received a lot of feedback from both sides of the political spectrum, as well
as a lot of people known for hugging the soft gooey middle. Except for the
abusive comments from wingnuts (tell Bill O’Reilly, no one is nastier than a
wingnut, period.), most of them attempted to be useful.


Normally, I get at
least a few critical missives that make me think twice about my position. I
pride myself on being very open minded, with a keen ability to listen to
alternate viewpoints and understand where they’re coming from. It really helps
to be able to do that, because it’s necessary to making the distinction between
a conservative with an honest difference of opinion, and a wingnut who just
reacts, without taking the time to rub a couple of brain cells together. And
sometimes, actual conservatives have an interesting take on things.


But this time, none of
the arguments made sense, or were in any way relevant. I want to talk about a
few of the reasons people give for not being in favor of impeachment, and
address why they are completely irrelevant.


The number one reason
given is "We don’t have the votes."


Apparently, these
people didn’t read the piece very closely, because I did address this problem


I simply don’t care
that we don’t have the votes to convict now. It really doesn’t matter. No one
ever said that doing the right thing was always going to be easy.


I think Democrats
should spend their August recess making the case for drafting articles of
impeachment. Once they vote on them, the Senate must hold a trial. Don’t tell
me there are no grounds for impeachment; if the Founding Fathers had been
confronted with a George Bush, they would have impeached him without a moment’s
hesitation. This Administration doesn’t value the Constitution, they don’t
value the rule of law, they have an exaggerated sense of the power they possess
under our system, and they have no regard for the people. They created the
mechanism of impeachment for two reasons; to remove people who abuse the power
given to them by the people, and to remove incompetents from positions where
they can do serious damage. In other words, in George Bush, we’ve hit the


Impeachment is not
supposed to be a political tool, used to get rid of people you don’t like
politically. The Republicans bastardized the process in 1998, when they
impeached Bill Clinton, even though they knew damn well they wouldn’t convict
him. Yes, you read that right; the Republicans went ahead with a sham
impeachment, based on complete bullshit, despite the fact that they didn’t have
enough votes. But Democrats can’t push forward with a real impeachment based on
real reasons?


Sometimes all of us,
including politicians, have to actually go outside of their comfort zone to do
the right thing, regardless of whether or not it’s politically popular at the
time. (Although half the country already thinks they should be impeached, and
nearly three-quarters think they’re bad for the country. I don’t think it’s
even necessary to convict and remove
Bush and Cheney in the end; at some point, we must put all of their misdeeds
into the record, and show the people just what these people are doing to our
country. At some point, the American people must be presented with all of the
facts, laid out in one very concise presentation. As of today, much of Middle
America senses that the Bushies are incompetent, but they have no clue as to
what the details are. I mean, 41% of Americans are convinced of a connection
between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; isn’t that evidence enough that real
information isn’t trickling down enough?


And when that
information is presented by way of an impeachment trial, the Republicans in
Congress will be faced with a choice. They will have to choose to stand for the
rule of law and the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold (yes, it was an
oath to the Constitution, not to the GOP or George Bush), or they can choose to
stand beside the lamest of lame duck presidents and his crooked vice president.
If they vote to convict, they uphold the rule of law, and we get to keep at
least some standards for the presidency. If they vote to acquit, in the face of
all of the evidence presented, they effectively kill the right wing and the
current incarnation of the Republican Party for a generation, and we get either
Hillary, Barack or John (or even Dennis?) into office, and we will have a
president and enough seats in Congress that we can demand reform and have a
fighting chance of getting it…


Either way, we win. We
win, because this is a democracy, and we’ll have a majority of the American
people behind us, demanding reform of just about every mechanism the right wing
has broken since 1980. An impeachment trial, win or lose, will expose the government
for the crooks they are, and we will have the impetus for a real reform
movement. (If, of course, we progressives play politics better than we have in
the past. But that’s another column for another time…)


The second-most
popular complaint (again, among people who didn’t read the whole piece) seemed
to be "there just isn’t enough time."


Between the passing of
the Articles of Impeachment and the acquittal of Bill Clinton, less than two
months passed. That means, if we can put forth genuine articles of impeachment,
debate them thoroughly, and pass them by October, we could conceivably be done
with these scumbags by Christmas. But even if we can’t, February or March works
for me. If anyone is worried that a "President Pelosi" might upset
the Democratic nomination process, we could get her to agree to not run for an
additional term if Bush and Cheney are impeached and removed. I don’t get a
sense that she particularly wants to be president, anyway, so she’d probably
agree. (Might make Hillary a little mad, though; she wants to be the first…)


as an aside, why don’t many liberals understand that the reason Pelosi took
impeachment "off the table" was so that it didn’t look like she was
working in her own self-interest? She can’t take anything ‘off the table’; if
the Judiciary Committee brings forth articles, she’s not going to kill them.
But if you’re a potential recipient of the benefits of a particular action,
doesn’t it make ethical sense to remove yourself from the process, short of
voting on it?


Sometimes, you simply
must stand on principle, regardless of the consequences. If we don’t get rid of
them until January 19, 2009, then so be it; the point is to take back the rule
of law. This is not about political payback, and it’s not about Bush and Cheney,
personally speaking. It’s about restoring justice to the rule of law, starting
with the most obvious breach of it in our lifetime.


Now, the third
rationale is the most interesting to me. I actually had a couple of people
write and say something to the effect, "well, what if this turns into a
game; they impeached us, so we impeach them, then they do the same to us, and
it becomes a cycle."


Well, what if?


First of all, I’m no
conspiracy theorist, but nn my opinion, Republicans were attempting to
inoculate the next Republican president when they impeached Clinton. They
didn’t necessarily know that the next president would be George W. Bush
(although, given the massive election fraud in 2000, maybe they did), but they
did know that the next wingnut they elected would act in extraordinary ways.
So, isn’t it possible that they used that impeachment to make the public more
reticent to engage in another one anytime soon? And if we allow them to get
away with that concept, how gullible are we? We have to go after bad guys who
get into office. If we end up with five impeachments in a row, then we need to
look at our electoral process, and ask ourselves why we keep electing such
assholes. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get rid of them, just because we
keep impeaching people.


Besides, the last
impeachment was political theater, while this one would be a valid impeachment
for valid reasons. This time, the exercise is not an attempt to "get"
a president politically, nor is it an attempt to get rid of someone we don’t like
politically. I couldn’t stand Reagan or Bush 41 at all, but I was ambivalent
about their impeachment. I probably wouldn’t have minded seeing more heads roll
over Iran-Contra, but compared to the current bunch, the Reagan bunch were
pikers. In the Reagan Administration, investigations were conducted, heads did
roll, and there were lots of firings. The current administration sees every
investigation as a major pain in its ass, and no one’s ever been fired for
doing anything wrong, although a few have been forced out for siding with the
Constitution over their "fuehrers" Bush and Cheney.


Think about it this
way. If you cared about your job, and your "legacy" to even the
slightest degree — hell, if you cared even one little bit about your promise
to "bring honor and dignity" back to the White House — how tolerant
would you be of the crooks and liars inside of your administration? Ethical
people would find it embarrassing to know that someone under them had betrayed
the trust of the American people. Think about the various important yet
unanswered questions regarding impropriety in the Bush Administration thus far;
why would any ethical person not want to clarify any of these? (There are so
many, I can actually list many that I didn’t list in the first impeachment


o Who in the Bush Administration assisted
Enron in its attempts to escape blame for the largest corporate fraud in
history? When it found out that Enron’s illegal dealings resulted in millions
of people losing billions of dollars in retirement savings, why was there no
serious attempt to recover as much of that money as possible?

o What happened at those top secret
meetings featuring Dick Cheney and top energy industry executives, and by what
authority has Cheney continued to refuse to divulge the details of those

o Why did Bush wait seven minutes to
even react after terrorists attacked New York City? Why has there been
so little of the assistance promised in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks actually provided?

o Why does this Administration continue
to hold hundreds of prisoners after nearly five years, without 
   charges, without trial, and in most cases, without counsel? And is
such      disregard for the basic principles of justice out of a
sense of keeping the country secure, or a reflection of their disdain for the
rule of law?

o In the run up to war, why was there
such a massive operation to lie about the rationale for invasion? Why hasn’t
anyone been held accountable for the "faulty    
intelligence" which led to more than 30,000 American casualties, and
     as many as half a million or more Iraqi civilian deaths?

o Who is responsible for the estimated
tens of billions (some would say hundreds of billions) of  dollars in
waste, fraud and abuse by contractors in Iraq? In one very glaring example of
fiscal irresponsibility, $8.8 billion dollars was "lost" several
years ago by several contractors, and there was no accountability for that.
No-bid contracts worth billions have been handed over to campaign donors, and
the Vice President is still being paid by at least one contractor that has seen
billions in profits from its operations in Iraq.

o And, in one of the most shocking
events in American presidential history, who is responsible for  the
coordinated effort to smear a political opponent, by revealing the identity of
his wife, a CIA undercover operative? And why has no one ever been held
accountable for that?


So many actions by
this administration rise to the level of "high crimes and
misdemeanors" that it’s difficult to count them all. And we must do
something about it. For six years, a friendly Republican Congress neglected its
oversight responsibilities, and the Democrats are now forced to play catch-up.
This will be a condensed process, it will be an intense process, it will
interfere with the presidential race, and it will cause all sorts of
accusations to be thrown at Democrats; accusations of "partisan political
theater" and trying to ‘get’ Bush and Cheney. But at this point, none of
that matters. Much of what the government is allowed to do is based on
precedent; and we cannot allow these people to set a precedent that allows a future
administration to do the same sorts of things, and get away with it.


As I’ll show in my
next piece on impeachment, the drive to impeach these people is no longer the
talk of a bunch of Commie leftist pinko liberals; a fair number of
conservatives have joined us. And why not? This administration’s actions
transcend cheap partisan politics and labels. Every chance they get, these
fools carve out an exception for themselves in every law they see, and they
have issued a series of executive orders that are far more reminiscent of
Saddam’s Iraq than the land of the free and the home of the brave. In fact,
Bush’s last executive order, which is featured on this very blog, was issued
July 17, and essentially asserts that the president (see, that’s the funny
thing about executive orders, they’re not president-specific) has the power to
unilaterally decide that you are undermining the effort in Iraq and,
without hearing, can just seize all of
your assets.


Now, I know what many
of you are thinking;


"I haven’t done
anything, so I have nothing to fear."


Those of you who
believe that should know; the word "gullible" appears in no
dictionary. Anywhere. You can go look; I’ll wait.


If you give the
government that kind of power, odds are they will use it. And if they take all
of your assets, how do you plan to fight it? The wingnuts spent the 90s
stalling as many Clinton-nominated judges as possible, and they spent the last
six packing the courts with their own kind. Of course, it won’t get that far,
because you won’t be able to afford a lawyer. You have no assets, remember? And
keep in mind, wingnuts; the executive order doesn’t expire when Bush leaves
office. What if President Hillary decides to make the claim that everyone who
has an assault weapon is aiding and abetting terrorism, because she’s
unilaterally decides that she wants to confiscate them, to make sure terrorists
can’t possibly get hold of them? Something tells me you’d probably want her
impeached, and rightly so. And if President Obama ordered every preacher’s
assets taken, because he was sick of them ragging on gays, you’d be calling for
his ouster, as well.


And you know what? We
would be right there with you, because it’s an abuse of power, no matter who’s
doing it. This may come as a shock to many on the right, but there are many
issues that transcend simple politics, and which are simply either right or wrong,
not right or left.


And right now, there
is no excuse for not impeaching these people. The Constitution demands it.

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