Ask Auntie Pinko
June 23, 2005
By Auntie Pinko
Comparing Watergate to Bush's transgressions
Authorizing a "black bag job", i.e. a breaking and entering
felony is pretty simple criminal behavior, as is covering up the
crime. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to identify that behavior
as "criminal." However, let's assume Bush is guilty of the following:
lies, lies, and more lies. Since when is lying a crime?
As they say on "Law and Order," if that's all you got on him,
get back out on the streets and get me something else. Because we
can't convict him on 1st degree lying.
Nowhere in particular, USA
Auntie is not precisely sure what comparison you are trying to
make between Watergate and Mr. Bush's actions. In the case of Watergate,
the criminals who were accused, tried, and convicted did not include
the President of the United States. However, Mr. Bush is the President
of the United States. Are you pointing out that criminal convictions
of people other than the President of the United States is different
than objectionable behavior on the part of the President of the
United States? Auntie would have to agree with you, technically,
but I think you are trying to make another point.
Do you really think that it is unreasonable to call for a President's
impeachment and/or resignation unless someone connected with his
Administration has been convicted of a crime? The men who designed
America's highest law would not agree with you.
Here is a useful link for you: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.txt.
This is the text of the United States Constitution. Scroll down
to Article II, Section 4. This is the section that specifies exactly
what a President can be impeached for. Three items are mentioned:
Treason, Bribery, and "High Crimes and Misdemeanors." There is no
explanation of exactly what "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" means,
no definition specified, no relation to items in any code of law.
Let's start by noting that Mr. Nixon was never formally accused
of "authorizing a black bag job." While there was much speculation
about whether Mr. Nixon did, in fact "authorize" the Watergate breaking-and-entering
in advance, no serious suggestion was ever put forward that he did
so. The most credible allegation in that regard was that Mr. Nixon
suspected that his associates might be employing illegal tactics,
and ignored the matter.
The specific allegations against Mr. Nixon were that he had obstructed
justice by impeding the investigation, and that he had lied about
doing so. Many people, including Senators and members of Congress,
made these allegations freely, but it should be noted that these
allegations were never rendered as formal accusations against Mr.
Nixon. Articles of Impeachment were drafted, but never enacted against
Mr. Nixon, and Mr. Nixon was never indicted in any court of law.
Mr. Ford's pardon of Mr. Nixon did not refer to any specific accusations
or indictments, it was merely a pre-emptive, non-specific pardon
designed to render Mr. Nixon immune to future prosecution for any
offenses alleged against him during the term of his Presidency.
Mr. Nixon's actions so outraged Americans because of the damage
that resulted from those actions. By tacitly allowing - or even
not preventing - members of his staff from engaging in dirty campaign
tricks, Mr. Nixon demonstrated contempt for the integrity of the
electoral process, and damaged the confidence of all Americans in
the reliability of that process. By obstructing the investigation
into Watergate, Mr. Nixon demonstrated contempt for the rule of
law and the trust reposed in him to uphold justice, and thus damaged
the trust of all Americans in the integrity of the Presidency itself.
Neither damaging the confidence of Americans in the reliability
of the electoral process, nor damaging the trust of Americans in
the Presidency, appear anywhere in the criminal code of the United
States as a misdemeanor or a felony. Yet the House of Representatives,
which was in the process of preparing Articles of Impeachment against
Mr. Nixon, considered them sufficiently grave derelictions to qualify
under the "high crimes and misdemeanors" provision of Article II,
section 4 of the Constitution.
We hold the President to a standard of trust in public office
higher than any other official, and rightly so. The violation of
that trust, while it may not be something that could be used by
a "Law and Order" prosecutor to get an indictment under the criminal
code, is a sufficiently grave offense against the common welfare
to require action, as the House and Senate were prepared to do in
1974, had Mr. Nixon not resigned his office.
If, as alleged, Mr. Bush deliberately and knowingly lied to Congress
and the American people in order to obtain support for the prosecution
of war, he has certainly violated the trust of the American people
in the office of the Presidency. The Constitution vests the power
to declare war, not in the Executive Branch, but in the Legislative
Branch. By lying to the Legislative Branch to obtain that authorization,
Mr. Bush has demonstrated contempt for that Constitutional provision,
and a willingness to subvert Constitutional process.
Are these alleged "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" comparable to
Mr. Nixon's alleged "High Crimes and Misdemeanors?" That would be
for the United States Senate to decide. In 1974, the Republican
members of Congress and the Senate clearly felt that it would be
in the best interests of the nation (and, undoubtedly, their Party)
for Mr. Nixon to resign, rather than to put the matter to the test
of a public impeachment. They told Mr. Nixon so, and he agreed.
Auntie Pinko is well aware that the character of partisan fervor
has changed greatly in thirty years, but I do not think it is unreasonable
to wonder if those same 1974 Republican Senators and Representatives
were in office now, they would be planning a visit to the White
House to have a serious talk with Mr. Bush.
Thanks for the interesting question, Bob!
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