An historic moment occurred in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. the night of Monday, June 9, 2008. Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio presented his 35 articles of impeachment against the president, George W. Bush. It took nearly five hours to read. It covered everything from misleading the American public about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq so as to manufacture a case for war to numerous cases of violating the Constitution of the United States.
In 1998 the House voted to impeach then president Bill Clinton. They approved two out of four articles of impeachment. All dealt with perjury or obstruction of justice related to either the Paula Jones or Monica Lewinski sex scandals.
Polls indicate that at least 40% of the American public supports an investigation into the possible impeachment of George W. Bush.
In 1998 a little more than 20% of the public supported impeaching president Clinton.
The articles of impeachment presented by Kucinich against Bush stand little chance of even making it out of the House Judiciary Committee and, therefore, will die.
Impeachment passed in the House in 1998 against president Clinton almost exclusively along party lines but then failed to get a conviction in the Senate when some Republicans broke ranks and voted against it. Still, 100% of the yes votes for impeachment were from Republicans.
In spite of the above mentioned facts, this historic event on June 9, 2008 did not so much even get mentioned by the mainstream media and most Americans probably don’t even know it happened. What’s wrong with this picture?
The bottom line? Political will. In 1998 the extremely partisan Republican majority, led by “The Hammer” Tom DeLay, relentlessly pursued case after case searching for an impeachable offense against Clinton. After years of searching and coming up with nothing along came Monica Lewinsky served up by the original weapon of mass destruction, Linda Tripp. So even while some of their own were busy hiding their own sexual affairs from public view, the Republican leadership began an historic battle against what they pitched as an immoral White House lacking in family values.
Today the Democratic majority has a House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who has publicly said that impeachment is off the table. And so, it will die. Outside of a few determined Democrats, few are willing to go up against Pelosi. So, since democratic politicians themselves aren't taking impeachment seriously, and since the media doesn't take Kucinich seriously, this will get no press.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison wrote the following statement:
“If only the President had followed the simple, high moral principle handed to us by our Nation’s first leader as a child and had said early in this episode “I cannot tell a lie,” we would not be here today. We would not be sitting in judgment of a President. We would not be invoking those provisions of the Constitution that have only been applied once before in our Nation’s history.
But we should all be thankful that our Constitution is there, and we should take pride in our right and duty to enforce it. A hundred years from now, when history looks back to this moment, we can hope for a conclusion that our Constitution has been applied fairly and survives, that we have come to principled judgments about matters of national importance, and that the rule of law in America has been sustained.”
The president she was referring to? Bill Clinton.
When one looks at the two sets of articles of impeachment you can’t help but think that the Clinton case pales in comparison to the Bush case. And yet, you can be sure that Hutchison will not support this impeachment. You see, in Washington, D.C. partisan politics is more important than integrity and defending the Constitution. That Constitution that Senator Hutchison referred to has in fact not survived intact during this administration. Much of the Bill of Rights lies in tatters as a direct result of Bush supported legislation such as the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act. Many of its other provisions have been ignored or violated and without any consequence to the offender. Any efforts to protect American civil liberties and freedoms from the legislative ax are made meaningless by presidential signing statements declaring that he will break the law if he sees fit, and he does. Why on earth does the Congress let the president get away with breaking the law when it is their duty, as Senator Hutchison so eloquently put it, to enforce it? The answer? No political will.
Nancy Pelosi stands in the way of justice and the duty of Congress to perform one of their most critical jobs, maintaining the balance of power among the three branches of government. But she is not an immovable force. The rest of the House of Representatives can be motivated if their constituency lets them know what their feelings are. Will you be motivated to let your congressman know your feelings about impeachment, either way. I hope so, because it is your duty as an American citizen and voter.