This country has learned to be afraid... of Dick Cheney. The number one reason a significant minority of Americans still hesitates to get behind impeachment of Bush is fear of Dick Cheney. This will remain the case even should Cheney die, I am convinced. Certainly it remains the case no matter how many times I explain the following six reasons why it's INSANE, but I'm going to try one more time.
1.-If you impeach and remove a president from office, that president's successor will probably lose the next election, assuming he or she runs, and that president's party will probably lose big in the next election. This has never been tested in U.S. history, but the case of Nixon and Ford comes close to it. If you want the Democrats to win the White House and a larger majority in the Congress, then your ideal ought to be for the man who is really running the country now to be moved up front as the face of the White House. Why? Because Bush has set records for unpopularity and Cheney is about HALF as popular as Bush. Cheney is a walking advertisement for Democrats. More Americans believe in UFOs than believe Cheney is a decent human being. And Cheney won't even run for election as an incumbent. If Democratic strategists had any sense they would be angling for a Cheney presidency. But it is impossible they will ever get one, for reasons that follow.
2.-If Congress holds serious hearings and investigations into either Bush or Cheney, it will inevitably drag before the public evidence that incriminates both of them. It is utterly impossible that Congress will investigate, impeach, and remove from office Bush or Cheney, and leave the other still standing. Both will be facing criminal and civil prosecutions. And if one is impeached, both will be. If one is removed from office, both will be. But it will never come to that, for reasons that follow.
3.-If Senate conviction looks likely for Bush or both Bush and Cheney, a situation that could arise as it did with Nixon even prior to impeachment in the House, Republican Senators who want to remain Republican Senators will tell Bush and Cheney to resign. Cheney will resign first something he may do regardless, for "health reasons" so that Bush can name his replacement, who will like Ford become president. If Senate conviction is actually reached for both Bush and Cheney, it will not be reached in the same instant for both of them. Were such a bizarre occurrence to become possible, Cheney would resign before it occurred. The only way in which Nancy Pelosi can become President is for her to get herself elected, or for Bush and Cheney to simultaneously die. There is the slimmest possibility that Cheney could resign, the Senate could reject Bush's choice for a successor, the Senate could then remove Bush from office, and then Pelosi would be president. For that sort of miracle to happen, Pelosi would have to be a goddess with such superhuman powers that she wouldn't even want to be president. But none of this is about Pelosi, for reasons that follow.
4.-Were we to figure out a way to impeach and remove Bush and make Cheney president, he would not only be facing criminal charges and a possible impeachment himself, but he would be operating in awareness of that fact. He would be a president learning to be afraid of us, as we learned to stop being afraid of him. The same would be true with a President Pelosi or a new President Ford. Whoever is in that office after Bush is removed will be keenly aware that he or she might be next. Cheney would of course then retire, and the Republicans would lose the next election badly, allowing someone to become president the way they are supposed to: by getting elected. Selecting a president is not part of impeachment, for reasons that follow.
5.-Impeachment is not a way to pick a president, and if all you're worried about is picking a president, you have no business monkeying around with something as profoundly significant as impeachment. Impeachment is a tool for removing a criminal president from office, thus establishing limitations on power for subsequent presidents. If we do not impeach Bush, we will have established that it is acceptable for presidents to lie us into wars, to spy without warrants, to detain without charge, to torture, to murder, to reverse laws with signing statements, to hide the operations of our government, to exact retribution against whistleblowers, to rig elections, to ignore hurricanes, etc. For similar reasons, we must impeach Cheney too. These reasons go to the survival of our democracy, a matter of far greater significance than the person who next sits in the office of the presidency or the office of king if that is what it is to become. It is obscene to even bring electoral or party concerns into this matter. But those who do, usually get their calculation upside down, for reasons that follow.
6.-It is not politically dangerous to impeach. It is politically dangerous not to impeach when the case is clear. The Democrats calculated that by letting the Iran-Contra gang off the hook, they could win the next elections. They then lost those elections and were forced to be haunted for decades by the thugs they declined to put away. The Republicans tried to impeach Truman, won what they wanted from the Supreme Court, and then won the next elections. A dozen examples through history tell the same story. The only near-exception is Clinton. But that was an impeachment the public opposed. So, it ought to have had a reverse result from the other cases. Even so, the Republicans lost fewer seats than is the norm at that point in a majority tenure, and they lost seats mostly in the Senate that acquitted, not the House that impeached. The handful of lunatics who imposed the impeachment on the rest of the Congress and the country won big in their next elections.