Patrick Leahy, Vermont’s senior Senator recently replied to a constituent urging him to support impeachment efforts underway in the Congress to impeach Vice President Cheney. Consider these profoundly troubling utterances of Saint Patrick.
“Thank you for contacting me about Vice President Cheney. From the time President Bush and Vice President Cheney first took office in 2001, many Vermonters have shared with me their concerns about the actions and policy priorities of this Administration. Along with Senator Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch, I share the frustration and anger of the Vermont Senate and many Vermonters. I have strongly objected to a number of the Administration's policy objectives and am ready to restore checks and balances and close oversight of the Administration.”
What does it mean to “be ready” to restore checks and balances? As evidenced by Leahy’s inactions, it does not mean any investigation into unconstitutional actions taken by the President or Vice President. While the Senator is wasting weeks and months looking into the political firings of prosecutors by the Attorney General, Bush and company are unabashedly escalating troop levels in support of their occupation of Iraq, as well as issuing executive directives declaring that Bush will have control of the entire federal government if he deems it necessary.
We don’t need the Senator to share our frustrations and anger, we’ve got that pretty well covered as citizens. What we expect is remedial action by the Senators whose very job description is to provide checks and balances to executive power. “Strong objections” expressed in a photo-op does not cut it. If he’s ready to restore Constitutional balance, what is he waiting for, the President’s permission?
“ I have been opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning and I am committed to pressing for an end to the war to bring our troops home. As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will continue to push for aggressive oversight into many of these issues, including the mass firings of U.S. Attorneys.”
What does your commitment entail Mr. Leahy? Commitment usually implies that actions will follow. Once again, your constituents are doing a fine job of voicing opprobrium; we look to you for action. Why are you not investigating that lies that were told by the President and Vice President in order to get us into this war? Why are you not investigating the roles of Bush and Cheney in making torture part and parcel of America’s intelligence gathering efforts? The firing of US attorneys is the only investigation that the Senator has thus far been willing to conduct. Mr. Bush must be quaking in his boots.
“ On April 24, Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
introduced H. R. 333, legislation calling for the impeachment of Vice
President Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors. This bill was
referred to the House Judiciary Committee. As the Administration and
Congress remain divided on many issues, I will look for ways to bring people together to make progress on issues facing the nation.”
You need look no further than to hold this administration accountable for its actions. An overwhelming majority of Americans are in agreement that this administration is taking us in the wrong direction. Bringing the truth out into the open is a way to unite, not divide politicians. As long as you are unwilling to let the debate proceed beyond opinion and conjecture, you will continue to have a partisan divide.
“An impeachment inquiry would be a highly divisive ordeal that would dominate Congress' time and attention.”
While impeachment may start to crack the monolith that is the Democrat/Republican power structure that supports American hegemony over the world’s oil and over the Middle East, and which is willing to use military occupation as a means to realize this hegemony, the American public will support any inquiry that actually gets at the truth that has led us into our current untenable state. As the truth about Alberto Gonzales has emerged in your recent hearings, we have seen support for him lessen among Republicans, rather than see them circle the wagons in his defense. we would see no less as a result of investigations of the President and Vice President.
‘Impeachment proceedings would likely compromise the ability of Congress to address the many issues that face our nation during the remainder of this Administration. With a closely divided Congress, the outcome of an impeachment proceeding is uncertain and the problems facing our country are numerous, so Congress must set priorities to accomplish the most important tasks that the American people agree need to be accomplished.”
While the House Judiciary Committee was investigating and voting articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, they also managed to raise the minimum wage, pass the Endangered Species act, initiate several new environmental programs and raise the minimum wage. the current Congress has not managed to do as much even without the “distraction” of impeachment.
Your assertion that we must set priorities implies that defending the Constitution as your oath of office requires not be one of them. The defense of our Constitution, and by extension the validity of the governance of the Republic is our first priority. Without Constitutional rule of law, we are a sham democracy and your participation in it nothing more than play acting.
Outrage plays well in the movies. Your job however, is to deal with real life and real issues. Histrionics and rhetoric do a disservice to your job and to the nation. We know that you can do better and we expect you to do so without further delay.
The Democratic Party is proving itself to be one of Bush/Cheney enablers. It is becoming depressingly clear that the continued occupation of Iraq is a Democratic policy as much as a Republican one. We gave you a mandate is November 2006. Do not continue to squander it.
“Thank you again for contacting me”
No problem. You’re welcome.