Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Impeach Pit

The drumbeat of Blogtopia's (© Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo) march towards impeachment is getting louder with each passing Democratic somersault at Bush's command.

I haven't said much about this, either here or on various blogs that I comment on. I'm of mixed feelings regarding it, and I hadn't really sorted them out, and still haven't. I do think it's important as a gut check for any politician who peruses Blogtopia (© Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo) to hear all sides of the issue, even the wishywashy middle.

Look, Bush is a crook, I think we can all agree on that. John Dean, who both helped mastermind and then expose Watergate, has likened the criminality and unconstitutionality of the Bush crimes against America to being far worse than Nixon's. Liz Holtzmann, who was on the House Judiciary Committee investigating and drawing up articles of impeachment against Nixon, has even written a book laying out the case for Bush's impeachment.

That there's factual reasons for impeachment cannot be denied, except by the thirty percenters who still support the jackass-in-chief. And still...

Liberals complain about Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, so much so that you can't even hear the right wing blogosphere complain about them much anymore (which might say something in its own right). They complain about capitulation, they complain about cowardice, they complain about caving in.

But if I'm House Speaker or Senate Leader, I'm not sure I start impeachment proceedings now, either. History will judge the Bush administration as one of the most corrupt, stubborn, self-aggrandizing, and ignorant group of people to run a nation since the Soviet Poliburo. The hubris of their misjudgements and abuses of power practically drips like honey off a comb.

But history will also turn a harsh eye towards Congress in the years to come, and in the cold light of a sober morning after inhaling the vodka of retribution, history is going to write one fact that will stand out amongst all others: Congress started impeachment hearings of the Commander In Chief while troops were on the ground, fighting a war.

Whether the war was just or not, whether you agreed with the war in 2002 and don't now or disagreed with the war from the start (which I did), we have troops there, and history shows that a nation at war which suffers what amounts to a revolution within its borders ends up destroyed. It happened in Rome. It happened in the Holy Roman Empire, as France peeled off bits of that agglomeration while civil war ensued. It happened to the Csarist empire during World War I, as any Finn can tell you, and indeed, you can make the case that the downfall of the British empire occurred simultaneously.

So there's historical precedent to consider. Another factor against impeachment is time. The break-in that kicked off Watergate happened in June 1972. The House committee didn't even sit until June 1974, and then only after several high-level members of the White House staff had been indicted. A fairly sizable part of this delay revolves around "executive privilege" and ultimately, the Supreme Court had to step in.

As I said in March, Bush's best defense in these last two years of his term is to merely run out the clock. Time is the enemy of Congress, time and SCOTUS. I had these two factors in mind when I said Bush would run out the clock.

Even with the entire weight of Congress pressing against Bush, with the hedged bet of a loaded Supreme Court on his side he'd gladly take his chances with a court fight. And the judiciary is notorious for not wanting to get involved in a fight between Congress and the President, so the delaying tactic would take on an even greater urgency, since SCOTUS would simply tell them to come to some sort of compromise.

Finally, in the argument against impeachment made by someone who favors it, at least partly, is the emotional factor. How much of this demand for impeachment about the criminality of the Bush administration and how much of it is anger at a man who was born on third base thinking he'd hit a triple and stumbled into nearly every break he's ever gotten in life? The image of that smirk on Jan. 20, 2009 over the shoulder of President Hillary or Barack might invite a riot in some of the rougher quarters of America, even if, as John Dean has pointed out, Bush could be impeached after the fact, altho it would amount to a slap on the wrist, since the only concrete effect it would have is to prevent him from ever seeking office again, and to disbar him, if he were a lawyer. Oh, and to enter his name in the record books.

I understand now how some of the more rabid conservatives felt about Clinton, even if the Big Dog did nothing, and I mean nothing, to warrant the level of anger that Bush has engaged with his criminality.

I, for one, would hate to see Bush leave office without an official tarnish to his record, for the right wing to point out and make the case that, in two terms, Bush was never indicted or impeached, unlike "that liberal hero, Clenis". It ain't fair.

But life ain't fair. Sometimes the bullies get away with it while the nerd sits detention for fighting back.