You and I have spoken over the years about a number of different items for your consideration as a Congressman. Most recently the central issue that concerned me has been the impeachment of the Vice President and the President. On that point, despite your public statement in Cape Neddick over a year ago that you believe "impeachable offenses have been committed," you have been adamant about refusing either to co-sponsor an impeachment resolution or to submit a resolution of your own.
You have offered the following reasons for your stance: it will detract from the business of Congress and Congress will not be able to do anything else; and, there isn't enough time for an impeachment process. In addition you implied that it was not a politically wise move to undertake. I have never agreed with these rationalizations, I do not agree with them today, and I will not accept the reason that politics trumps preserving the Constitution and the nation.
The most important business of Congress and those elected to serve is contained in the oath of office to which you swore -- "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic..."
That the President and Vice-President and other members of the administration have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a matter of public record by their own admissions. I do not need to remind you of the particulars since I believe that you have familiarized yourself with the 39 impeachment charges submitted by your colleague, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Thus, I submit that an impeachment investigation could be conducted in very short order. Perhaps a day or two would suffice.
You may wonder why I am bringing up this topic with only two months remaining in the Bush administration. I raise it because there is still time to preserve the Constitution and to prevent future administrations from further destroying the balance of powers among the three branches of government. The Founding Fathers in their Declaration of Independence railed against a unitary executive, King George, and now we have another George who is governing in like manner and potentially establishing precedent for future "Georges."
An article in the New York Times [11/13/08] by Charles Savage details the precedent that has been established by former presidents - Harry Truman and Richard Nixon -- to exercise executive privilege even after leaving office. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is quoted as saying, "The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office." If this were to be the case, then the subpoenas issued by Congress would become moot and the American people would not learn about torture of detainees and the roles of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers in the firing of federal prosecutors among other key issues.
The commencement of an impeachment hearing will preclude the administration from exercising executive privilege and ignoring subpoenas. And perhaps most importantly, it will preclude President Bush from issuing a self-pardon, pardoning Scooter Libby, preemptively pardoning Dick Cheney and others who serve or have served in his administration.
Therefore, Tom, I ask you in these closing days of your term in office to demonstrate that you know what is right, that your oath of office is meaningful to you and that you have the courage to protect your country and its Constitution. I ask that you join as a co-sponsor of the Impeachment Resolutions filed by Rep. Kucinich, or in the alternative, file your own impeachment resolution. Once having accomplished either of those acts, stand tall and advocate loudly. In this way you can preserve your honor and potentially rehabilitate your reputation. You have nothing to lose and possibly much to gain.
Herbert J. Hoffman
Former Candidate for U. S. Senate