"Suppose...": Arguments for an Impeachment
September 27, 2005
By Bernard Weiner, The
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
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
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 email@example.com.
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