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"Suppose...": Arguments for an Impeachment Resolution

September 27, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

Suppose it could be proven that the integrity of the vote-counting in the 2004 election had been seriously compromised, and that Bush-Cheney probably lost. What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration told huge lies to get the U.S. military into Iraq, thus leading to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, the maiming of tens of thousands of others, the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians? What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration effectively has turned over the writing of pollution-control legislation to the corporations that create much of the pollution? What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that the Bush inner circle knew that a huge terrorist attack was about to go down in the Fall of 2001 and chose, for whatever reason, to ignore the warnings. What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that high officials of the Bush Administration, for political reasons, deliberately revealed the identity of a covert CIA officer, and that of a CIA mole inside Osama bin Laden's inner circle? What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration concocted a legal philosophy that would permit the President to ignore laws passed by Congress, and has "disappeared" a number of American citizens into military-base prisons away from public or legal scrutiny - in effect, making the President into a kind of dictator? What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that under rules devised by the Bush Administration, confidentiality between lawyer and client no longer exists, federal agents can enter your home and conduct a search without you being present or even being told it happened ("sneak & peek," it's called), can hack into your computer and read your private emails without you being informed, can check what library books you're reading and prevent librarians from telling you they've done that. What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration devised legal rationales for torture of suspected terrorist-prisoners in U.S. care - with more than 100 dying while being interrogated - and that key detainees are being sent to U.S.-friendly countries where extreme torture methods are used? What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that because of their incompetence and delay in responding to the Gulf Coast Katrina catastrophe, more than a thousand innocent American citizens drowned or starved to death? What would you do about it?

Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration, hostile to science, has denied the reality of global warming and its effects on regional weather changes, such as the increase in monster hurricanes like Katrina and Rita, and thus devoted little or no attention to the deadly implications. What would you do about it?

"WHAT DO I CARE WHAT YOU THINK?"

Well, you get the idea. You or I could continue this list forever - civil liberties, church and state merging, humongous deficits, activist judges enlarging the power of the central government, treating certain citizens (especially women and gays) unequally, etc. etc. And then we'd always come back to the same closing question: "What would you do about it?"

The reason I ask is that the Bush Administration has been caught in the spotlight on these issues for the past four-and-a-half years, with documented evidence reported in the mainstream media. Scandal after scandal, corruption after corruption, high crimes and misdemeanors - and yet, nothing happens.

As Bush himself once said about his critics, almost in these words: "So what, I'm the President. What are you going to do about it? What do I care what you think?" As long as Bush is in the White House, with all the power at his command, with all his loyalist toadies keeping real-world consequences away from him, he feels that he and his inner circle in the bunker with him are untouchable.

And, to date, he has been. So what are you, what are we, going to do about it?

ALMOST AT CRITICAL MASS

I suggest that anti-Bush critical mass is just about achieved in the body politic, especially after the disgraceful, shameful neglect and bungling associated with the Katrina scandal, which led to the deaths of so many American citizens. Nearly two-thirds of those polled these days agree that the Iraq War is a mistake, and the troops should be brought back home soon. Bush's approval rating is now in the high-30% range. If and when in the next few months indictments are unsealed against key Bush Administration officials - perhaps including not only Karl Rove and Scooter Libby but John Bolton and, maybe as unindicted co-conspirators, Bush and Cheney - true critical mass could be achieved.

At that point, we don't want to be just sitting there watching the unfolding of the Bush Administration's self-destruction, or witnessing their last, dangerous, martial-law death throes. We need to have protected ourselves, and helped prepare the way for the moral/legal/political turnaround that is coming.

One way to lay the necessary foundations is to get the citizenry talking seriously about the possibility of impeachment. Now. And, in addition to raising the issue amid the chattering class, perhaps the best way of getting the word out more widely is for an impeachment resolution to be introduced in the House. Now.

As I see it, such a move will not have a chance of success if such a resolution were introduced only by a single, and easily dismissible, member of Congress. No, this impeachment resolution - calling for hearings into the alleged high crimes and misdemeanors of Bush and Cheney - ideally should be introduced by a huge number of Representatives, including whatever courageous Republicans can be convinced to join.

There also is strength in numbers, perhaps giving members courage to take the giant step in the company of many of their peers. Who will start the process by talking along these lines to their fellow members of Congress? My guess is that if someone with the stature of John Conyers and Jim Leach began talking up the idea of an impeachment resolution, others might well consider signing on. Even better would be if Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were to bite the bullet and join in. I'd say a minimum of 40 names would be necessary to break through into the major media as a "serious" movement afoot.

WHY MANY REPUBLICANS MIGHT JOIN IN

Why would Republicans want to abandon the Bush cabal that helped turn them into the majority party in Congress? Well, for one thing, they want to get re-elected and Bush could well be an embarrassing and politically radioactive albatross around their necks in 2006. If Bush and Cheney were to go, they could run campaigns devoid of their association with that pair, and might well return to their seats of power in the Congress.

Likewise, CEOs and other business types, including stock market brokers and economic powers that be, see the damage being inflicted on the budget, on deficit financing, on the economy, and so on, and might well believe that three more years of this bumbling, ideologically-driven administration could well take the country down with it. Better to cut their losses now by abandoning Bush & Co. to the retribution of the public for four-plus years of reckless rule, and then stabilize things and get the country back on track.

So many retired military leaders and traditional Republicans, conservatives all (in the pre-Bush meaning of that term), already have cut themselves loose from a party kidnapped by far-right extremists. It's not outside the realm of possibility that these GOP forces might coalesce into a movement that sees the forced eviction of Bush & Co. from the White House as in the best interests of themselves, their party, the economy, and the American people in general.

Now, introducing such a resolution calling for impeachment hearings could well fail when it comes up for a vote. But Bush & Co. may have gone so far over the acceptable edge, it's not outside the realm of possibility that such a bill could pass. (Members of Congress were talking about the impeachment of President Nixon in the early-'70s and, though no such resolutions passed, they helped set the stage for Nixon's resignation later as the Watergate scandal unfolded.)

In any event, discussing the reasons for impeachment outside the fringes of internet discourse - actual governmental officials talking about it - would significantly alter the respectability of the topic being raised in the public sphere. Suddenly, it would be a serious issue being discussed seriously, both out on the street (where there would have to be unrelenting rallies and civil disobedience) and in the corridors of industry and political power.

NO SEX BUT PLENTY OF DEAD BODIES

The basis for impeachment of Bush-Cheney would not be a personal indiscretion a la Clinton - extremely bad judgment, but a private sexual act between consenting adults - but crimes and misdemeanors that have resulted, and continue to result, in the death and destruction of American citizens and their property, both abroad and at home.

As for the wording of such a resolution, my guess is that the experts in such things will opt for a simple, all-inclusive indictment rather than a laundry-list of specific offenses, which will come later. For example, Bush and Cheney took their oaths of office swearing to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution and, by implication, the citizens of the United States. They have done neither.

The Constitutional protections designed to shield citizens from an overbearing federal government are in shreds; citizens are being killed in a war based on lies; we Americans are less secure than we were before the invasion of Iraq; and monster storms have become more deadly because of unfeeling incompetence and a denial of scientific realities.

It is long since time to take corrective action. Many progressives and Democrats have been moving in that direction for a long time, but the time may be ripe, or may soon be ripe, for significant factions of the Republican Party to join in the movement to pry the grasping fingers of Bush & Co. from the levers of power.

Introducing a resolution calling for impeachment hearings is the first serious step along that road back to political sanity and moral accountability for our country. Let's demand that our Representatives in Congress do it, and if they won't, we will elect those who will.

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers. For comments, write crisispapers@comcast.net.

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