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When I raised James Madison's role in crafting a Constitution that mentions impeachment no fewer than six times, he replied: Madison did not say Conyers has to impeach every one. Why, if I had to impeach everyone for high crimes and misdemeanors, that's all my committee would have time to do.
I learned in Rhetoric 101 the name of that technique: reductio ad absurdam.
How about just Bush and Cheney, we suggested.
Conyers protested that he would need 218 votes in the House and complained that the votes are not there. His priorities showed through in his loud lament that if he fell short of the 218 votes, the Republicans and Fox News would have a field day.
There was no getting through to Conyers, who seemed astonished at the direct questions we were posing.
In reflecting on this later, the dictum of my father, also a lawyer, began to ring in my ears: "When you reach the age of 'statutory senility,' you do everyone a favor if you retire."
He followed his own example, when he retired as Chancellor of the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, long before senility-statutory, or otherwise-set in for him.
Septuagenarian Conyers (and, for that matter, 80-year-old Senator John Warner, R-Virginia, who has also forgotten his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution) would do well to heed that advice.
Toward the end of the meeting, Conyers showed uncommon chutzpah in referring to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That was too much for me.
You're no Martin Luther King, I found myself wanting to say. Instead, I quoted a portion of Dr. King's famous address at Riverside Church almost 40 years ago:
"We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak....there is such a thing as being too late....Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity....Over the bleached bones of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.'"
I used that quote in a letter I left with Conyers' aides on Monday, in which I tried to express why my colleagues in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity feel it is URGENT to find some way to apply the Constitution to restrain a run-away Executive.
The text of that letter follows:
A Note to Congressman John Conyers:
On Impeachment and the EdmundPettusBridge
We each have our favored crime for which President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be impeached. Many of us have several.