Monday, September 12, 2005

Impeachy keen


There's occasionally value in symbolic gesture; sometimes calling for that which just ain't gonna happen can help bring about conditions for something worthwhile to happen. Other times, especially when it's drawn out over a long period of time, it just gets boring and annoying. Not quite five years into the Bush administration, the calls for Bush's impeachment are beginning to fall into that latter category. Evil right-winger Jamie Jeffords offers a slightly less cynical analysis than mine of why Bush won't be impeached, and gets the hat tip for finally moving me to write on the issue.

I can think of a hundred reasons why Bush should be impeached. Unfortunately, the very people -- of both parties -- who would have to draw up and approve the articles (the US House of Representatives) and who would have to try and convict him (the US Senate) are co-conspirators in the relevant offenses.

The House and Senate (including many Democrats) approved the illegal war on Iraq.

The House and Senate (including many Democrats) and in general the previous (Democratic) administration made, or adopted as true, most or all of the false claims used to justify that illegal war.

The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee himself voted for the war and declined to make a serious case against it in his campaign, choosing to kvetch about the details of its execution rather the legality or propriety of its commencement or conduct.

Were FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, or the Lake Pontchartrain levee project underfunded? The budget is passed by Congress before it's signed by the president.

Was FEMA director Michael Brown incompetent? He didn't get where he was without vetting and confirmation by the US Senate (which, as far as I can tell, occurred on a unanimous voice vote).

Graft? Influence-peddling? Corruption? Sure, they're all there -- but you can't swing a cat on Capitol Hill without hitting a lobbyist carrying a brown paper bag full of unmarked, small-denomination bills, either. Congress has a lot of guns to point at the president, but he has a lot of targets to plug with his one little derringer if they get persnickety with him. Nobody on the Hill wants to risk being cast in the role of the fourth crewman who always goes down to the surface of the alien planet with Kirk, Spock and McCoy for the purpose of dying horribly and setting the tone for the episode. A "who bribed who" tit-for-tat would get really ugly, really quick.

Let's look back at the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton. There were a hundred reasons why he deserved to be impeached, too -- but he wasn't impeached on the basis of the holocaust at Waco, the murderous bombing of Belgrade, his role in the kidnapping and return to Communist slavery of Elian Gonzalez, the murder of Peter McWilliams, his depredations against the inalienable human and constitutional right of Americans to keep and bear arms, or any other worthwhile grounds. He was impeached for fibbing about how a stain got on a dress. The whole thing came off as silly political theatre, which is precisely what it was. And that kind of silly political theatre requires a majority in the House to make it to opening night.

The House has the same silly majority it did then -- a silly majority which is probably much smaller than it would have been had they foregone impeachment, btw, and a silly majority which declines to cast its silly leader in the silly role of impeached president. Bush's co-partisans are beginning to realize what a sad sack he is and distance themselves from him, but not so much so that they're willing to remove one of their own from the White House. The Democrats don't have the votes to move impeachment on their own, even if they wanted to ... and too many of them have spent too many nights moaning and bucking on all fours in the Lincoln bedroom to give up the pretense of respecting him the next morning anyway.

Let's just accept it: Barring accident, illness or assassination, George W. Bush is going to serve out his second term as President of the United States. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! Why try to dump the geek after his best days have ended and just when his presidency is beginning to pay off for Democrats? He'll be delivering Democratic gains in Congress next November, and probably a majority in one or both houses, along with a 12-16 year Democratic White House, in 2008. Chase him away now? That would be silly, even if it was possible. And it isn't. So how about a little less concentration on impeachment and a little more concentration on maximizing Democratic congressional gains next November?

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