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Making Congress Prosecute The President

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In response to Holmes: Making presidents execute the laws, published 12/2/07 by Rick Holmes, Opinion Editor for the Metro West Daily News.

Rick, I agree: Just holding hearings into Bush's violations would be an instructional exercise in righting the constitutional imbalance.

But regarding your "arguments against impeachment", I do not agree at all. I'm not sure if these are your arguments against impeachment, or if you're simply sharing the "conventional wisdom". But here's my unconventional rebuttal:

  • "nothing would get done in Washington while impeachment held center stage"
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    • and something is getting done there now? Republicans, like my fine Congressman Buck McKeon, say we need to focus on the war. But the war, that fiasco, is a convenient distraction from executive crimes-- the very crimes which caused the war in the first place. Impeachment would slow down Bush et al, which would be a good thing, but the wheels of government did not stop turning during past impeachments. Just because the media would focus on it does not mean Congress and the rest of the government would just stop doing their jobs, and stay home watching TV. Impeachment is not conducted by the entire government.
  • "Rep. Edward Markey [D, MA-7] is looking forward to pushing an important global warming bill through the House this week. It would never become law if impeachment were being debated, he says."
    • This week? Global warming bills will be coming down the pike in ever greater numbers in coming years and decades. One bill is not going to save the planet. But one administration has done tremendous damage to our republic, and to the planet, for the past 8 years. We neglected global warming up until now due to Bush's suppression of science and denial of warming. Global warming should have been addressed years ago, before it got out of hand. Presidential misconduct must be addressed now, before it too continues to plague us in future presidencies. Impeachment is about setting a critical legal precedent. We mustn't wait for future unscrupulous presidents to follow Bush's example, or benefit from our failure to act. As much as I support the warming bill, I feel our failure to impeach and prosecute is too important. And I hope Congress can discuss more than one issue in a week. Maybe they can even talk and chew gum at the same time, although I may be naive.
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  • "Since Newt Gingrich's House impeached Bill Clinton, impeachment has come to be seen as a way to settle political scores, not a serious constitutional exercise. Gingrich paid for it at the polls, a lesson that hasn't been lost on Washington Democrats."
    • That's because the impeachment of Clinton WAS a way to settle political scores, and it WAS unfair. A Bush/Cheney impeachment is believed to be well-justified by Americans of every political stripe, including former members of his own administration. Their crimes are overwhelming. The Bush/Cheney horror bears no resemblance to Clinton. Gingrich aside, did Clinton's impeachment prevent George Dubya from being elected? Nope.
    • (But I feel we do need some kind of impeachment reform to de-politicize the process. As soon as we figure out how to depoliticize the Supreme Court.)
  • "Then there is the result of a successful impeachment of Bush: President Cheney."
    • 'olmes, 'aven't you 'eard? Cheney is at least as guilty of high-crimes as Bush. This impeachment is a double-header, my friend. More than 50% of all Americans want to see both of them impeached. It's elementary, my dear Holmes.
  • "the clock would likely run out on Bush's presidency before impeachment proceedings could be completed."
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    • It does not matter if impeachment proceedings begin his last week in office. This is not just about removing them from power; it's about prosecuting a criminal cabinet. It's about justice. It's about the American system demonstrating, for Americans and for the rest of the world, that tyrants cannot get away with hijacking the American presidency.
  • "next year's election will repudiate everything Bush stood for, including his usurpation of powers the Constitution doesn't give the president. Maybe, but only if executive powers become a campaign issue."
    • Ah yes, "campaign issues"-- I knew we'd get to that. We must think beyond election campaigns. Most Americans already "repudiate" what Bush stands for. It does not matter who is voted into office, crimes committed must be prosecuted, it's as simple as that. There will be many more elections, and more Carl Roves, Dick Cheneys, and George Bushes waiting in the wings. We Americans must start thinking more broadly than a 4 year time-span.
    • Who invented this handy-dandy tactic among politicians that, if you resign or finish your term, then you are no longer culpable for your crimes? How convenient. We must doggedly pursue ALL criminals of the Bush administration, including those who are no longer in office.
  • "There's hope on this score: John McCain, Bill Richardson and Ron Paul have all pledged that, if elected, they will never use signing statements to sidestep the constitutional process."
    • Well, now we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
  • "can we count on people like Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giuliani to voluntarily give up some of the president's powers just as they enter the White House? I wouldn't bet on it."
    • I wouldn't either. That's my point.
  • "If Congress wants to wrest some of its authority back from the president, it should do it by legislation. After all, Richard Nixon's impeachment by itself did little to shrink the imperial presidency. But while Nixon was weakest, a Democratic Congress passed legislation - the War Powers Resolution that restricted the president's authority to wage undeclared wars, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which reined in wiretapping until Bush started ignoring it, the Presidential Records Act and Freedom of Information Act, both of which have been undermined by Bush/Cheney - were important correctives to abuses of power in the White House. Democrats in Congress shouldn't wait for a Democratic president to give power back to Congress. They should be passing laws that restore its authority. Among them should be a law that reinforces the Constitution's mandate that the president "faithfully execute" the law."
    • Absolutely. Now you're talking, Rick. Impeachment proceedings would weaken the administration, and might even enable Congress to pass corrective legislation. But these are two separate endeavors, both of which are essential, and neither of which should be dependent on the other.

What everyone seems to have missed is that we have the opportunity now to behead a snake who slithers far beyond the current White House. Taking down Bush and Cheney will be a major blow to the corrupt machine that has plagued American politics for decades. Impeachment and prosecution of this White House would provide a rare opportunity for the justice system to dig deeply into the operations and interconnections of the whole vast right-wing conspiracy. Lots of people will be implicated.

But if we fail to act swiftly, the same snake will retain it's strangle-hold on American justice into the future.

Johny Radio
Click here for more rebuttals to arguments against impeachment


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Fed up with corruption? Have A Picnic. Or a cocktail party, bicycle ride, or pumpkin carving. Invite family, friends, co-workers, or your organization. At your event, your group will write letters to Congress, and do other actions, to pressure (more...)

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Making Congress Prosecute The President