09 July 2007

The Case For Impeachment

A few days ago, I posted an email received from the Give 'Em Hell Harry website, that asked me (and all who received the email) to express our anger at the commutation of the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by contacting the White House. My online response was to post a flippant statement, to wit:

Dear Senator Reid,

I'll make a deal with you. You press for impeachment with no whining about political costs, and I'll gladly sign on to your toothless complaint campaign.

Disgustedly yours,


Dr. Zaius disagreed with my theory (his post is not pro or con re: impeachment, but a well developed critique of those who declaim that the current Congress is "do nothing" - if you haven't read it, do so now!), and rightly so, as it was not really a theory - rather, it was an incomplete throwaway statement made because, well, mainly, I wanted to post the email to which I (apparently) objected.

It was not so much that I objected to the email and the sentiments it expressed. It was, instead, that I know deep down that even if every single citizen of the US were to complain to the WH about the commutation, it would make no difference.

Many others on the left have written on this - generally concluding that the commutation was in aid of protecting the Administration from the possibility that Libby would roll over and "spill the beans" on the machinations that led to the outing of a covert CIA agent, in order to marginalize former ambassador Joe Wilson's debunking of one of the key reasons we were given for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.

Those on the right who have written on this have, for the most part, claimed that either Libby was unfairly prosecuted (and somehow in a partisan manner - even though the prosecutor and judges were all Republican appointees) - or that the sentence, for the correctly adjudicated perjury, was excessive.

I'm not going to get in to that discussion. If you have somehow missed it, just google "Libby commutation" (as of this writing, that search returns ~ 1,600,000 hits). What I want to talk about (finally, he's getting to his point!) is the growing desire on the part of the American public to impeach Cheney and Bush.

From what I have seen, there are basically three camps on this. One, "Get the bastards out of office!" Two, "I wish we could get the bastards out of office, but it ain't gonna happen, so why waste the time and money?" And, three, "This is nothing but partisan political theater!"

"Get the bastards out of office!"

The people gathered around this campfire view the entire Bush Administration as a collection of hubris laden criminals who cheated their way into office (and re-election) and have willfully ignored and trampled upon the Constitution in their desire to further enrich themselves and their fellow businesspeople. From the secretive Energy Task Force - composed (as far as we have been able to determine) entirely of oil and other energy executives and operatives - all the way through dismissal of the Kyoto Protocol, tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, the attacks of 11 Sept 2001, the Patriot Act, the buildup to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, running roughshod over the Republican controlled Congress, the ever-changing reasons for and goals of our involvement in Iraq (although the oil revenue goals have not changed a bit), etc., etc., etc.; this camp of Constitutional idealists sees nothing but avarice and deceit in the current Executive Branch (and whatever the Constitutional location du jour is of the Office of the Vice President).

In the minds of those clamoring for "impeachment über alle", nothing is more important than holding BushCo to task.

"I wish we could get the bastards out of office, but it ain't gonna happen, so why waste the time and money?"

The drum circle that surrounds this bonfire agrees with, for the most part, everything that the GtBOoO camp says, but looks at the makeup of the Congress (specifically the Senate) and has concluded that the impeachment process will never come to fruition - no matter how much evidence may be forthcoming.

And it also seems that that their greatest fear is a backlash from the voters come 2008 if impeachment fails.

"This is nothing but partisan political theater!"

Those that crowd around this sputtering, smoking fire built of green wood are the ones who put Party before State, and who will never agree, even should God him/herself appear before them and say otherwise, that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." They sit on their piles of money, assault rifles in hand, and stare in abject fear at the other two camps in the distance - knowing that, if those two should somehow join forces, their influence would be virtually wiped out. This camp excels in productions of the same political theater which they claim, loudly, on Fox News and other willing media pawns, that the "other side" is trying to initiate. They know that their only hope of survival is to inflame the politically naive and susceptible and to continue to convince those same people that those who have ever done all they could to "keep the masses in their place" are actually champions of those same masses.

So, the question you are probably asking is, in which camp does Phydeaux wish to pitch his tent?

In the comment thread at the linked Dr. Z post, I said (in part):

I do feel that to allow the Current Occupant to end his term of office and retire to his Paraguayan Safe Zone without answering for his disdain of the principles of American Democracy would do irreparable harm to the nation - and the memories of all who have fought (and even died) in support of those principles throughout our history.

to which, the good Doctor responded:

And I think that it is safe to say that the majority of us feel the same. My question is, is it logical or even sane to push for impeachment at this time? What would use for evidence, for example? What evidence of a crime do we have that Bush can't slime his way out of? Especially with Cheney or Roberts as the judge? And a 50% vote, because we have one man down. I ask you, how do we go about this logically? Perhaps you have an answer that I can't see, but at present I have not heard anything that sounds reasonable as of yet.

I will take this opportunity to respond to those questions.

"[I]s it logical or even sane to push for impeachment at this time?"

At the risk of being labeled an "emotional liberal", it is my belief that we may have reached a point where it is necessary to risk emotion (and even sanity) in order to protect the Constitution and the continued existence of Freedom that all who came before us in the history of the United States worked so hard to establish and maintain.

Remember the holiday we celebrated just last week? Was it logical or even sane for the Continental Congress (and the people of the Colonies) to declare themselves in rebellion against the most powerful Empire on the planet? The men in that chamber in Philadelphia pledged "to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." Can we, who have received the benefits of their actions, do any less?

"What would [we] use for evidence, for example? What evidence of a crime do we have that Bush can't slime his way out of? Especially with Cheney or Roberts as the judge?"

As I am neither a lawyer nor privilege to inside information, I cannot answer the first. However, it is incumbent upon the Congress - as a Constitutional mandate - to oversee the Executive Branch (and Cheney). In other words, it is their duty to pursue this matter, no matter what the outcome or consequences are. A debate on Articles of Impeachment would bring out the evidence (even though the matter will inevitably have to go through the courts), whatever that may be. If the evidence proves to be insufficient, then the Articles will be voted down. Only then would the matter go to the Senate.

As to the last of this group of questions - if the case were to make it to the Senate, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Roberts) would preside. Cheney would have no role. And, as far as your fears regarding Chief Justice Roberts being the presiding judge are concerned - I have to believe that this would be an instance (even if there were no other) that he would have to rule only in his intended role - as a non-partisan adjudicator. To do otherwise would be to blatantly deny the role of not only himself, but the entire Supreme Court, as the final arbiters of law in the US.

Should he choose that route, however, I believe that it would signal the beginnings of a new American Revolution - because it would show that the entire system of government has been operating as a sham.

I have no idea what the outcome of any impeachment proceedings would be, but I would state again that I believe that it is in the best interests of the nation for the Congress to take up the matter.

And if, at the end of the day, the Senate fails to convict (assuming that sufficient evidence is brought forth) on the basis of partisanship - it is my fervent desire that the Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and all other parties and engaged citizens will take every opportunity to point out that Justice and the Constitution were subverted by the Republican Party.

To conclude, I would like to say that I hold Dr. Zaius in high regard and that I hope that my words will be taken in the spirit in which they are sent - merely as answers to his questions, not as criticisms of his statements.

Also, as part of my pledge to PortlyDyke, I will be sending my Senators and Congressman an edited and likely expanded copy of this post. I urge each of you to take PD's pledge and do the same (in your own words, of course - but feel free to quote me, if you must).

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