But I'm not for impeachment; it would not be good for
Sadly, one hears this argument, more often since the recent
Democratic victory. I ask what would be bad about impeachment.
The answers fall into two related classes. Some say that
impeachment would take too long; there is other business that the
country should engage in. Others of this persuasion say that the
issue is too contentious, too divisive.
Before going further, let me remind the reader that for a year
a narrow majority of the country has been for impeaching the
Present Occupant. 44% are against impeachment, and less than
a third of Americans still support this administration. So I'm
writing to persuade at least some of the minority to join us.
There are three basic arguments that I would submit to those
who understand and deplore the criminality of our present
government, yet are reluctant to speak out for impeachment.
The first: not many people, who haven't travelled abroad recently,
understand the battering that the reputation of America has taken
in the last six years. We used to be able, with some
justification, to call ourselves the City on the Hill. Now most
non-Americans agree that the United States is the greatest
present threat to world peace. Most people have seen pictures of
what we are doing in Iraq. Most people have seen the pictures
from Abu Graeb. Most people have heard of Guantanamo.
It would be a gigantic step toward redeeming ourselves in the
eyes of the world if we were able to say, "We made a dismal mess.
But we are starting to clean it up."
Second reason: We have in our official national slogans several
that intimate some form of equal treatment. I think
predominantly of the saying engraved upon our Supreme Court's
lintel, "Equal Justice Under Law", which brings a smile to the
face of every thoughtful adult. So it might impress all
Americans, the humble and the powerful, to see our most powerful
criminal hauled before a court that has been established by our
The previous two reasons discuss favorable effects at the
present; they ripple into space, so to speak. The third reason
ripples down the years. It will be a cautionary lesson for
future presidents who are tempted to take this country into
useless and illegal war, as the Present Occupant has done; or to
issue signing statements about what laws he will or will not
obey, as the Present Occupant has done; or to wiretap and
eavesdrop upon the American people, as the Present Occupant has
done. Who knows? perhaps future presidents will think twice
before indulging in such adventurism.
"There is other business this country should engage in"; well,
yes. But for several months the actual mechanics of impeachment
will devolve on hearings before the House Judiciary Committee,
which will be busy indeed. But other committees -- Armed
Services, Appropriations, Ways and Means etc -- can go about
their business without hindrance. And when a record has been
compiled, and a recommendation actually comes to the floor, a
week of House Debate should suffice. I can't predict at this
remove what the Senate might do.
Recall that the last time a great number of Americans were for
impeachment -- I'm think of Richard Nixon in 1974, when 49% of
USAns were for his impeachment -- Mr Nixon was gone within four
Finally, "turmoil in the country"; again, yes. The television
ratings will be immense. But I would expect as the record
becomes fully exposed the 44% not for impeachment would shrink
to half that number; the crimes are too palpable, too manifest.
And think how good we'll all feel when impeachment is finally