As the movement to impeach creeps ahead, the public record of official calumny swells to bursting. A compilation of the crimes committed by the president (with the aid and encouragement of his vice president) would fill a hefty book. The latest seems to be the pronouncement that appeared without attribution in the Washington Post last week to the effect that the U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia is without authority to enforce any contempt of Congress citation that might issue against White House employees or former employees who invoke "executive privilege. " The legal precedent cited in the Post to justify the executive's defiance of Congress is a single legal argument made 20 years ago by government lawyers in a case in which the privilege issue was not decided.
Section 192 of Title 2 of the U. S. Code lays out the procedure for enforcing a Congressional summons to testify, and it says explicitly that it is the duty of the U. S. Attorney to bring any refusal to testify before the grand jury for action. The statements of the anonymous senior official in the Washington Post are in direct contravention of that law, and the federal prosecutor should answer the leak--clearly a threat directed againt the U. S. Attorney by his superiors in the White House--with an indictment of the president for obstruction of justice. Impeding a prosecutor in his official duties is obstruction of justice, and that's what this leak is intended to do. A grand jury wouldn't hesitate to issue a true bill on the strength of the Washington Post story alone.
The statements in the Post produced hardly a squeak from Congress, whose powers are now conceded to be entirely illusory. They make laws--Section 192 is just one of them--but their laws are without force or effect. A president or a citizen would have to be an idiot to obey one.
I'm convinced that tactics like the Washington Post story are acts of desperation by people who know they're going to jail eventually, but most of my friends and correspondents think I'm wrong about that. The consensus among people who read my essays is that we have entered a period of dictatorial rule, and that nobody will be brought to justice over any of this. I acknowledge that justice will be delayed--it's been long delayed already--but I believe we're witnessing an unraveling at this point.
The thugs in the White House may not know much about what's good for the country, but they know a lot about their colleagues in Congress, and fact number one is that it's summer, and these guys are used to having summers off. A delay until at least September seems assured. All the people who count are at the beach, and what's on the table had better be burgers and potato salad.
And so the real reason Pelosi, Conyers, and the others don't have impeachment on the table is that it would spoil their summer. Member of Congress is a job, just like yours, and it comes with a month off in the summer (unlike yours). For most of these people, it's the only job they've ever done well: shaking hands, smiling, hugging celebrities, congratulating winners, excoriating losers, raising money from people who want something, finding ways to enrich friends and relatives, and generally being exalted among men. Are we going to begrudge them a little well-deserved leisure?
Thus do our leaders prove yet again that they are not the best of us, but the worst. They recognize no duty and are devoid of honor. Spoil their summer? Let's be sure to spoil their summer wherever they go. We've stopped counting dead and maimed GI's, but you can be sure that many thousand summers will be spoiled because of the war our thuggish leaders wage as a political diversion. Let's follow them around with flag-draped coffins, bad news to us but good news to them, for whose political aggrandizement the dead sacrifice themselves. Let's remind them of their venality.
Instead of spending a hundred bucks I don't have to join a couple of hundred protesters in Washington, I'd like to find a way to spoil my representatives' summer. I'd like to spoil the summers of most of the presidential candidates, maybe dogging them with soldiers' caskets and big photos of dead Iraqi kids. Congressman John Larson and Senators Lieberman and Dodd, who claim to represent me, are going to be somewhere this summer, and if it's nearby where I am, I hope I can spoil a day or an hour for them, and I hope you'll do the same for your local hack.