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We just don't get it

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If you've been paying attention to the world news lately, you know that Pervez Musharaff is about to either be impeached or will resign in a few days. Yes, you heard the “I” word; the word nobody in America wants to say. In order to impeach Musharaff, the coalition government must prove that he has subverted the constitution or is guilty of gross misconduct. Sound familiar? The basis for Musharaff's impeachment may very well lie in the dismissal of the judiciary last November and the six-week suspension of the constitution. Seems rational to me. In Israel, Ehud Olmert was subjected to four rounds of intensive questioning by police as part of a corruption inquiry. Due to strong political and public pressure, Mr. Olmert has announced that he will not seek re-election and that he will resign as soon as his party elects a new leader in September. Tony Blair's blind allegiance to George Bush and his participation in the deception surrounding the Iraq war outlined in the now-famous Downing Street Memo led to the downfall of his administration and the unraveling of his political career.

Back in America, George Bush is still running the show. He has installed himself as an imperial leader and we've allowed him to do so. He has relegated the nation's system of checks and balances on the presidency to an irrelevant historical footnote. He has assaulted the Constitution with impunity in his quest to expand the powers of the presidency. We've spent nearly eight years laughing at his sometimes unintelligible Bushisms and seemingly ridiculous statements. I remember when everyone laughed as Bush stated that leading the country would be a lot easier if it were a dictatorship. From where I'm sitting today, I don't think he was kidding. The joke's on us. We're supposed to be the most advanced Democracy in the world, but we refuse to hold our leaders accountable for their actions. 

Instead, we have lame-brained elected officials like Nancy Pelosi appearing on The View and making the most absurd statement that I've heard yet regarding President Bush and the “I” word. I'm paraphrasing here, but the gist of it is that she'd be happy to advance Articles of Impeachment against George Bush if someone can tell her the law he has broken. Where do you want us to start, Nancy? Is there a more obvious reason why our spineless Congress' approval rating is hovering around the 9% mark? Let's just get real here. I have a hard time imagining the American public not being outraged over that foolish statement. You know, we don't need all 35 articles that were originally presented. We only need one. 

I've been down this road before, but I'll travel it again to make my point. President Bill Clinton was impeached because he had consensual adult sex with someone other than his wife and lied about it to Congress and the American people. I'm not going to tee off on this one. We'll stop here because that's all that's relevant to this article. Richard Nixon's impeachment, on the other hand, came about because he and his top aides covered up the Watergate break-in and other White House-sanctioned illegal activities, and then lied about covering them up. Based on these precedents, we have our impeachable offense against George W. Bush: He deliberately misled Congress and the American people on the justification for invading Iraq. Let's get past the absurd belief that he made a mistake or was fed bad intelligence. Neither is the case. Even Colin Powell participated in this colossal Bushwhacking, although he now says he was misled and that the war in Iraq is unjustified. The mythological bioweapon labs on wheels and rails portion of the speech is just priceless. The only problem is that they never existed and the Bush administration knew it. This is not the only piece of bogus intelligence that the administration knowingly used to justify the war. This may be the only impeachable offense of the lot (although one or two others may stand up to the test), but there are so many other instances where George Bush has shown such blatant disregard for the law of the land that at least an investigation is warranted. 

Do you think the DC Police would ever have the opportunity to question George W. Bush even once about corruption in his administration? Nope. Not in a million years. In a country that considers itself far and away the most advanced Democracy, corruption is simply a way of political life. It has long been alleged that Halliburton's no-bid contracts to rebuild Iraq's oil industry were arranged through Vice President Dick Cheney's office. This is an obvious conflict of interest and would definitely meet the standard for “corruption” should we ever choose to investigate our imperial leaders. On those few occasions when the administration is called into question, Bush and company are either allowed to stonewall or claim Executive Privilege. 

In one of the most egregious offenses, President Bush advised former top aides Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton to either ignore Congressional subpoenas or requests for files pertinent to Congressional investigations. They have dutifully complied with the President's directives and have been cited for contempt by the Judiciary Committee. Yet, they are still walking around free, as the impasse continues. A federal judge recently ruled that Bush's top aides are not immune from subpoenas and must appear to answer questions relating to the firing of nine federal prosecutors as well as turn over all pertinent files. The Bush administration is expected to appeal this ruling in an effort to drag this out to the end of his presidency. We treat this behavior nonchalantly because as a nation we just don't 'get' what other nations do.
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There is a level of integrity that we should expect from our elected leaders, the very least of which is a sworn duty to uphold the basic principles of the U.S. Constitution. We should expect our elected leaders to obey the law of the land, as well as all agreed-upon international laws. Because the Constitution stipulates that no man is above the law, every citizen must be held to the same set of legal standards, including the president. We should expect our president and his administration to act with the best interest of the people in mind, and we should expect the Congress to accept its responsibility to ensure that happens.

The latest rumor (and it is just that since we have conflicting information) is that House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has recalled his committee back from summer recess to investigate the allegation made by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind that the Bush administration forged a letter to solidify the links between Saddam Hussein and the 9-11 terrorist attacks and Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These links were the cornerstone of the “War Resolution” granted the Bush administration by Congress. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not a blanket resolution. Without proof of Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9-11 and without possession of WMD, the war was off. We now know that neither of these held up. If there was a forged letter, it is a serious allegation and it should be pursued. Whether or not it will be is another story altogether. 

At this point, actually removing George Bush from office may not be possible. The allegations must still be proven. What the “I” word will do is force the administration's behavior into the light of day where it belongs. It will prevent George Bush from claiming Executive Privilege and force him and high-level administration officials to account for their actions. We should move forward without delay. Our unwillingness as a nation to go after this lawless administration is setting a dangerous precedent for future presidents and lowering the bar on what we should expect of our elected leaders.

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Deb Della Piana is a corporate ex-patriot (30+ years in advertising & public relations) turned liberal political blogger. She lives in the great state of Massachusetts with her life partner, two children and three cats.

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