Democratic leaders have ready reasons to not consider impeachment at this time. They cite lack of support in the Congress, or an unwillingness to "divide the country" that Bush has been dividing for more than six years. Democratic leaders also claim that impeachment would preclude action on other important matters.
First up is a question that has confounded Americans ~ including constitutional scholars ~ for two centuries.
Are we misreading the "high crimes and misdemeanors" clause of the impeachment powers? I think we are; every damn last one of us; or at least most of Americans are. It has long puzzled "experts" why the Founders would include "misdemeanors" ~ minor criminal infractions ~ with "high crimes." Had the Founders wished the word misdemeanors to mean only petty crimes, they probably would not have put "high crimes" or "misdemeanor" into the Constitution, they would have just said "crimes."
There are another meanings ~ other than "petty crimes" ~ for the word 'misdemeanors" and they are understood by breaking down the word into its component parts. The prefix "mis" means abhorrent, detestable, disgusting, bad, or many other words with similar meanings; "demeanor" means behavior or conduct. Thus "misdemeanor could mean abhorrent behavior, detestable behavior, disgusting conduct or any other types of unacceptable actions or deportment. Of course, the Founders could have just used abhorrent behavior or conduct, bad behavior, or wrong conduct, or incorrect behavior. There is also the possibility that they didn't do so because of the various possibilities; they just used "misdemeanors" to embrace all possible interpretations. The confusion might have been avoided if the Founders had written "mis-demeanors."
An exchange at the Constitutional Convention indicates that James Madison, considered the Father of the Constitution, didn't restrict impeachment to only crimes.
George Mason had argued that the president might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection." Madison played off that remark with: "If the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty." In other words: bad behavior; and his statement indicates that Madison didn't interpret "misdemeanors" as referring to petty crimes.
If we applied Madison's concept today, Bush could be impeached for his commuting the prison sentence of convicted felon I. Lewis Libby.
And the Founders left many clues in the Constitution and their promotion of the Constitution that would indicate that "misdemeanors" didn't apply to petty crimes. There is the statement in Article III that judges could serve during "good Behaviour." That implies they can't serve during "bad behavior;" being removed from office through impeachment and conviction.
In Federalist Paper #65, Alexander Hamilton said impeachment is justified for "misconduct of public men" and added in #79 that "malconduct" of judges is grounds for impeachment. But he also said in #65 that the three justifications for impeachment must: 1) involve a violation of public trust as part of official duties, 2) be political in nature and 3) bring harm to the public. None of these three issues were involved in the impeachment of Bill Clinton by the Republican House, but all are or were involved in the Nixon, Reagan, Bush the Daddy and Bush the Infantile administrations. The Federalist Papers have no authority as legal documents, but they must be used for guidance.
So we need not restrict impeachment considerations to only crimes. "Misdemeanors," as it is defined to include abhorrent behavior or other such meanings, would certainly cover lying a nation into war, manipulating intelligence to justify a war, or maligning those who expose the lies and manipulations or defying Congress during matters of investigation.
The Senate as now composed includes 49 Democrats ~ one of whom is still partly incapacitated ~ 49 Republicans and two independents. The two independents include a socialist who will stick with the Democrats regardless. The other can't be counted on since he is a strong supporter of Bush and Bush's war against Iraq and has said he may support a Republican for president in 2008. Should the Congress take on an impeachment crusade and fail miserably, that Bush independent might join the Republican Party, giving it 50 members and a tie on all matters. That would turn the Senate over to Cheney who has the power settle all tie votes, resulting in Republican control of that body and all of its committees and subcommittees, which probably would end all Senate investigations and other actions intended to impede Bush.
The Constitution does not place a time table on how soon articles of impeachment must be forwarded to the Senate for trial. So the House, in theory, could draw up articles of impeachment, but hold onto the articles of impeachment until a new Congress is sworn in January 3, 2009, in order to prevent pardons from this President.