By GEORGE BENNETT, Palm Beach Post
What do higher fuel-efficiency standards, expanded children's health care and improved relations with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have in common?
According to U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, those are just a few of the benefits America can reap if Congress holds hearings on the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Wexler, who represents an ultra-Democratic Palm Beach-Broward district, recently took an e-mail poll of about 3,000 constituents and found 61 percent in favor of impeaching Cheney and removing him from office. Wexler insists he hasn't prejudged the matter but wants hearings to probe whether Cheney manipulated intelligence to bamboozle the U.S. into war with Iraq, which Wexler voted to authorize in 2002.
At last week's Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee meeting, Wexler took issue with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's declaration that impeachment should be "off the table." And Wexler disputed the notion that impeachment hearings would be a distraction, asserting instead that they would help the Democrats' domestic agenda and lift America's status abroad.
"The way we pass stem-cell research, the way we get implemented a children's health care plan, the way we get higher CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards to bring our energy debacle into a better condition for generations to come is to have impeachment hearings," Wexler said. "Because that'll get the president's eye. That'll get the vice president's eye. That for the first time will show that the Democratic majority is here and that in fact we have the courage of our convictions."
In addition, Wexler continued, hearings would strengthen America's hand in dealings with Iran, China and others. Every day the House Judiciary Committee isn't grilling Cheney is a day world leaders such as Indonesia's Yudhoyono keep their distance, he said. He described Yudhoyono as someone who "wants to be closer to America, but he can't because we are so negatively viewed. Well, let me tell you one more thing those impeachment hearings will do. They will make America more popular."