On Impeachment

I'm not really sure why I am writing this piece, because I haven't seen much talk about it on MyDD. Also, I can't imagine people on either side of this issue changing their minds even a little bit based upon what I write. However, I would like to say a few things about why impeachment is not going to happen, and why I don't think the new Democratic majorities in congress should pursue impeachment:
  • The congressional leadership, both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, have said they will not push for impeachment.
  • No member of Congress has taken up the cause, at least that I know of.
  • This isn't an ethics lesson. It isn't a debate over whether or not impeaching and convicting Bush would be the right thing to do or not. Simply put, the votes to pull off either, especially the conviction, are not there. We aren't even close.
  • Now that we have the majority, I do not see the value in pursuing legislation that will divide us, while unite the Republican opposition. I would like to wedge them, rather than wedge ourselves.
  • Even if we had the votes for conviction, that means we would almost certainly have a veto proof congressional majority on the following policy areas: universal health care, revoking authorization to conduct the war, public financing of campaigns, renegotiating all of our trade agreements for better standards, passing complete energy independence legislation, and on and on and on. Now you tell me, if we had the ability to do all of these things, where would impeachment rank on the list of legislation that would actually help Americans? This is more or less exactly the response progressive caucus member Chaka Fattah gave to my ward when he spoke to us in October. Even if we had the votes to pursue this path, it would be better and far more important to pursue legislation that would actually help people.
  • The vaunted public support for impeachment based on a single Zogby poll is illusory. Looking at the complete history of impeachment polling, you get the following results. CNN: Favor 30%--69% Oppose; Fox: Favor 30%--62% Oppose. LA Times Favor 36%--56% Oppose, ABC-WaPo: Favor 33%--66% Oppose; Newsweek: Favor 26%--Oppose 69%. Overall, only 26% to 36% of the country supports this idea. A supermajority opposes.
  • Congress should not start investigations already knowing how it wants the investigations to end. That is what Republicans did back when they retook Congress in 1994. Overall, I completely agree with Representative Brad Miller on this one. We will conduct oversight, but we will do it because that is the role of Congress, and we will do so in a fair manner, unlike certain past majorities I can remember. We won't be like them.
  • The last time the national image of the two parties was this heavily in favor of Democrats was at the exact moment that the Republican House voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998. I am not in the mood to blow all of our political capital, make us as unpopular as Republicans are right now, simply in order to pursue a course of legislation that won't help anyone, and has no chance of passing.
  • It would suck all of the air about he Presidential race, especially on the Democratic side. Hello President McCain. If you are really lucky, you will get President Cheney and then President McCain. Great.
Do I think that Bush has committed impeachable offensives? Probably. However, I would rather pursue a course of legislative action that would keep our caucus close to united, help large numbers of actual Americans, have a legitimate chance of passing both branches of Congress, conduct actual investigations and oversight and, if those investigations prove worthy, close by censuring Bush. I think is the appropriate and responsible way to act, a way that will help people, tarnish Bush, keep us popular, and keep our majorities. That is why you won't see me pushing for Bush's impeachment on this blog, or anywhere else, over the next two years.

Tags: Bush, Democrats, House 2008, impeachment, Senate 2008 (all tags)

Comments

176 Comments

Re: On Impeachment

The most important point to be made is that it's simply not practical right now. If we had the votes, I'd be all for it. But we don't, and unless investigations turn up a real big smoking gun, we won't get them in the next 2 years.

by PsiFighter37 2006-12-07 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

PsiFighter37 said:
...and unless investigations turn up a real big smoking gun, we won't get them in the next 2 years...

With that whopper of a disclaimer, why even come out and oppose impeachment now?  Why not wait until we've found (or not found) evidence of illegal and immoral activity, and make your decision about impeachment then?

I am truly confused by Bowers' and Kos' complete and explicit opposition to impeachment before anyone has had a chance to look at what's been going on.  It seems like people are opposed to impeachment on principle, but I think that's absurd.

But let's give you anti-impeachers the benefit of the doubt, by giving you a chance to answer these simple questions:

1.  When would you favor impeachment?  What kind of Executive abuse is too much, even for you?

  1.  How can you ensure accountability without punishment?
  2.  How can you deter future Presidents from abusing their power if they know that not even this guy was impeached?

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
Hear, hear!
I believe I understand Chris and Kos pushing against the sentiment for impeachment. I'm sensing an attempt to channel our energies constructively as Nancy and Harry build a reputation for Democrats now that we finally have the initiative for a change - that's all to the good.
When the investigations get underway, however, they could find themselves eating their words. The smoking gun doesn't have to be in the past - It's the coverup, stupid! Bush/Cheney will stonewall our elected Representatives, citing executive privelidge nat sec etc; and we'll have a new crisis.
Why do we want to tell ANY President that we guarantee we will not penalize them no matter what? What is the point of having an impeachment process in the first place if the President knows that it is a broken, non-functional mechanism?
Finally, I'm reminded of court cases where the plaintiff/victim is persuaded that it will be an ugly trial, hurt them more than the perp, and ultimately they probably can't prevail. If you're wondering why so many of us want to do it anyway, guys, just look at all the plaintiff/victims who tell the DA or attorney to damn the torpedoes.
I would love to see the system work without intervention.  Can anyone still have that kind of faith anymore?
by Josalo 2006-12-07 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

You asked when the anti-impeachers (pro-reformers?) would favor impeachment...

For me, the situation right now has less to do with the criteria you listed, the level of abuse, and has more to do with credibility. Voters have thrown the R-bums out, but I don't think they feel much more about Dems than that they deserve a chance to try to get it right. Impeachment is too similar to past Rep abuses to carry enough momentum without sucking the energy out of any other initiatives and evaporating our goodwill. That environment sets the bar higher on the level of abuse necessary to justify impeachment.

by greenvtster 2006-12-07 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

greenvtster, I didn't ask if you thought it was wise to impeach now, I asked you to imagine abuses that are too much for even you to ignore.  It's a hypothetical question, and I'm trying to figure what the threshold is for you and other anti-impeachers.

It seems clear to me that some people don't believe what Bush has done is worth the fight and distraction that impeachment demands.  Fine- so what would he (or any other President) have to do to make impeachment worth the fight for you?

If you can't come up with abuses that are too much for you, then you essentially don't support impeachment ever.  And you're free to believe that, but be honest about it.

by cfaller96 2006-12-08 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

You're not listening.

I answered (or tried to) that it depends. It depends on the current credibility of the Dems. Right now, frankly, I don't trust them to do it right. I want to see tangible evidence that they are serious about reform before we get into impeachment.

by greenvtster 2006-12-08 07:46AM | 0 recs
You're not answering

greenvtster, perhaps it would have been better to comment alone instead of in "response" to my questions, because you're not responding at all.

I get that you think impeachment depends on the situation.  I'm asking for you (and all the other anti-impeachers) to describe a hypothetical situation that, in your mind, demands impeachment.  Here are the three questions again:

1.  When would you support impeachment?

2.  How can you have accountability without punishment?

3.  How can you deter future Presidents from abusing their power if they know not even this guy was impeached?

In question 1, I asked "when?" and you said "maybe."  That's not an answer.  That's like me asking "what time is it?" and you answering "apples."

By itself, your comment is fine, but if you're going to respond to my comment, please try to answer my questions.  All of them.

by cfaller96 2006-12-08 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

You actually think that investigations WON'T reveal "a real big smoking gun"? That is the whole point of having them, because, if they are conducted properly and thoroughly, they are BOUND to do this. That has always, in my view, been the way to go about this.

Yes, of course, if investigations don't reveal any major constitutional crimes, then obviously we should not pursue impeachment, not just because the public won't support it, but because we simply wouldn't have a solid case for it.

But the point is that investigations, if done right, SHOULD reveal them, in which case impeachment will not only be warranted, if not mandated, but, I believe, supported by the public as well.

The principled and political arguments for impeachment have always gone hand in hand. And the way to validate both are the investigations that need to and hopefully will now take place.

by kovie 2006-12-07 01:18PM | 0 recs
Hooray for Strategery

Channeling Rumsfeld: "Do I think that Bush has committed impeachable offensives? Probably."

If you believe Bush has committed impeachable offenses, then you should believe Bush should be impeached.

It should be that simple.

by The Cunctator 2006-12-07 08:23AM | 0 recs
Nonsense

You don't do something because it is right.  If that were so, every single accused person would go to trial.  But they do not, and trials are very rare.  Why?  Because, rather than doing the "right" thing, prosecutors, the cops and defense lawyers all prefer to solve a problem and get on.

That means that lots of guilty people are plea-bargained out of prison.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Nonsense

I don't think "nonsense" is the word you're looking for.

by The Cunctator 2006-12-07 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Nonsense

Of course it is.  What you said was nonsense.  No political decision is based solely on what one believes should ideally happen.  The actual political consequences have to come into play, or nothing gets done.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Nonsense
...If that were so, every single accused person would go to trial.  But they do not, and trials are very rare.  Why?  Because, rather than doing the "right" thing, prosecutors, the cops and defense lawyers all prefer to solve a problem and get on.

You obviously don't know any prosecutors. The ones I know tell me that the reason they plea bargain most cases is that there aren't enough judges and courtrooms to take every case (they wanted) to trial. So much for problem solving and justice, eh?
by Michael Bersin 2006-12-08 03:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Hooray for Strategery

Pursuing actions without regard for the consequences is irresponsible. The drive for impeachment is driven by emotions, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you're talking about an emotional feeling shared by 1/3 of the population that will likely have bad consequences, maybe it's time to think it through.

I agree with Chris that getting the govt. to help real people in this country is the goal here. Settling scores is not a good reason in and of itself, and pursuing impeachment won't make up for the last six years. The only way to start to do that is to build a solid progressive consensus and govern well for a while.

by Josh Koenig 2006-12-07 09:32AM | 0 recs
Another view Re: Hooray for Strategery

Josh wrote,


The drive for impeachment is driven by emotions, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you're talking about an emotional feeling shared by 1/3 of the population that will likely have bad consequences, maybe it's time to think it through.

This is a bad stereotype, and a not very well-informed one at that. Have you even looked at the impeachment literature? The issue is NOT emotions. The issue is OUR CONSTITUTION!!! One of the more important books is titled "Bush vs. the Constitution." Impeachment is not about Bush-bashing, its about defending our Constitution. And if that doesn't matter to you, then I suppose you'll feel right at home in the Banana Republic our country is about to become.

by Bob Schacht 2006-12-07 12:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Another view Re: Hooray for Strategery

Thank you for convincing me that this is not about emotions. Your dispassionate and carefully-reasoned use of bold, all-caps and hyperbole are irrefutable.

Seriously though, I'm not disputing the legal merits of a potential impeachment -- although significant investigation would be necessary to establish sufficient hard evidence. I'm arguing that the movement driving for this is one that seeks emotional satisfaction and perhaps some national atonement, an act to show ourselves and the world how fully we reject Bush and his legacy.

I feel the same way, but I think impeachment is a lousy strategy. It's not going to save one life, create one killowatt of renewable energy, provide one unit of health care, or strengthen one diplomatic tie. The way to reject the Bush legacy is to move the country in the other direction, not by trying to get even.

by Josh Koenig 2006-12-07 01:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Another view Re: Hooray for Strategery

Of course, we're at a point here where we'll literally have to wait and see whether passing legislation to save one life, create one kilowatt of renewable energy, provide one unit of health care, or strengthen one diplomatic tie will actually be permitted to do any of those things.

That it's seriously in question whether or not duly enacted legislation will be enforced by the executive branch in this country is an indication of just what kind of straits we're in.

But that's only of interest if you're considering impeachment as other than strategy.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 03:33PM | 0 recs
Will impeaching Bush fix that?

How about taking away his signing statement authority?  That would work a lot better.  And would have an actual chance of being done before he left office.

Thing is, you seem to doubt Congress' ability to do anything besides impeaching.  Isn't it rather odd to simultaneously argue that Bush will ignore subpoenas from Waxman and Conyers, yet won't be able to avoid impeachment?

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Will impeaching Bush fix that?

Yes it will.

How would you propose "taking away his signing statement authority?" I have a sneaking suspicion you haven't thought this through thoroughly enough to be sure it "would work a lot better."

You see, the problem with the signing statements -- insofar as he has used them to exercise this "inherent authority" he claims to have -- is that he says this power is rooted in the Constitution.

And as I'm sure you're aware, you can't trump the Constitution with a simple bill from Congress. You'd need to do it with a Constitutional amendment. And if you think "we don't have the numbers" for impeachment, it's hard to see where you think those numbers would be coming from on a Constitutional amendment.

Yes, at bottom, I doubt Congress' ability to do anything at this point. When the president unilaterally nullifies over 800 laws passed by his own Rubber Stamp Republican Congress, it's hard to imagine it'll be any easier for Democrats.

Is it odd to simultaneously argue that Bush will ignore subpoenas and that he won't be able to avoid impeachment?

Not at all. In fact, one naturally follows the other, so long as Congress takes itself seriously -- which is a big "if," and part of the reason I doubt their ability to do anything at all.

Congress doesn't actually need subpoenas to impeach anyone, so the question of whether it's odd to say he won't be able to avoid impeachment if he ignores them doesn't actually make a lot of sense. But if he does ignore them, what he's saying is that the legislative branch has literally no power to check the executive. None. And if he says that and Congress doesn't impeach, then he's right.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Will impeaching Bush fix that?

Oh, almost forgot. Why do I think impeaching Bush will help fix the situation with regard to his nullifying and ignoring statutes?

Because his doing so would constitute what I believe would be the heart of the articles of impeachment against him -- violation of the Constitutional separation of powers. And his impeachment for that will set precedent and carry consequences for future presidents who would seek to do the same.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 04:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Another view Re: Hooray for Strategery

But that's only of interest if you're considering impeachment as other than strategy.

Not really. I mean, I strongly doubt Bush has the political will -- let alone the capital -- to actively thwart popular/good legislation. He can veto, and if the veto is overridden, and he still doesn't enact the law then I think from both a strategic and tactical standpoint you have to impeach. I just find it highly unlikely that we'll get there.

My point is that Impeachment doesn't equal Justice, even though it is in The Rules. Justice is much bigger than that, and it requires building and maintaining the kind of national consensus that Bush took for granted in the aftermath of 9/11, and then using that consensus to set things right.

I don't think punishing Bush personally is important. It's petty, vengful, and the idea that it will have a deterrent effect on future overzealous executives seems naive. Punishment is not really an effective deterrent to crime in general, and it seems obvious that should we have a future executive with as little regard for the constitution as Bush/Cheney, they too will assume they can get away with it.

We don't need to punish Bush; we need to repudiate his legacy. While part of that legacy is a legal mess around ideas of executive authority, impeachment is hardly the only means of getting straight on that.

The truth is that what will hold future executives accountable is a stronger, more equitable, with nation less economic inequality and a more empowered citizenry. This is the work of a generation. Impeachment only helps if it's a consensus-building effort, not just among our partisans, but for the Public at large.

by Josh Koenig 2006-12-08 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I think there is grounds for impeachment if Bush stalls on the Iraq Study Group recommendations and continues his "stay the course" mentality.  Bush only has a couple of months to buy into this or less.  If he fails, he will lose the respect of most Americans to a degree not seen by any President ever.  I think then there will be grounds to seriously discussing whether or not we can wait until the next election, or if we need new Presidential leadership to get us out of Iraq.

by pjv 2006-12-07 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
I 2nd pjv's idea.  How do we get out of Iraq while
Bush is president?  And what should the Democratic
response be if the Command-in-Chief refuses to
withdraw/standown/redeploy the troops?
by curmudgeon51 2006-12-07 08:44AM | 0 recs
Comparrisons can't be "false," Neal

They can be "wrong," or they can use "false" claims, or they can lead you to "bad" conclusions.

Maybe you meant the comparison is based on a false premise? Either way, "false" is not a word that can modify a comparrison.

Sorry, I shouldn't be taking it out on you. I should be taking it out on all the Democrats who like to use the word "false" to describe opinions which are, in fact, "wrong," because they think it makes them sound more factual, or more academic, or less offensive, or something, when really it just makes them sound weak, hiding behind multiple choice answers rather than judgments and convictions (like "right!" and "wrong!"). "False" is not a more clear-cut word for "wrong," it is a word used to describe the veracity of positive statements, (or truth-claims, as some epistemologists would call them).

And Matt, you're right about this stuff, except, I think John Conyers entered articles of impeachment a while ago.

by msnook 2006-12-07 08:28AM | 0 recs
Ahem

I meant to call you "Chris." My B.

by msnook 2006-12-07 09:45AM | 0 recs
Pedantic much?

You might want to check that spelling of "comparisons."  That's probably another thing that really makes you mad.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Comparrisons can't be "false," Neal

Here is the comparison:

Clinton: Very popular.

Bush: Very UN-popular.

Clinton: lied about sex.

Bush: lied to start a war, while being delusional about reality on the ground, and botched the war he lied to start. While looking the other way as war profiteers boosted profits at the expense of soldiers lives. Bush wipes his ass with the Constitution.

The comparison is that there is no comparison.

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 01:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Comparrisons can't be "false," Neal

Why is that?  Please explain.

For one thing, the GOP had a stronger hold on Congress back then than we do now, and they also had the media on their side (which we won't) -- and it STILL took them over two years to bring it to a vote in the Senate.  Bush will be out of office normally before he can be impeached.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:10AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Impeachment should be off the table unless we want to lose both chambers in 2008

by kydem 2006-12-07 08:29AM | 0 recs
Bravo!

How shocked and refreshed would the country be to see politicians focused not on the past and tearing down their enemies out of spite and ill will, but looking forward to the future and how they can pass legislation that will actually benefit the country?

by dallas young dem 2006-12-07 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Bravo!

Agreed here. Settling scores is not good practice if we want to govern.

by Josh Koenig 2006-12-07 09:33AM | 0 recs
I'm not interested in holding hands and singing...

I'm not really interested in holding hands and singing songs of brotherhood. The consequences of "not focusing on the past" will condemn us to repeating those past mistakes.

If the last 30 years of republican behavior has taught us anything, it is that they will never back off. They (and their enablers) must be held accountable. If we do nothing, we share their guilt.

I'm not a remarkable person by any means. I'd prefer to live a quiet life and work in my career (something I'd been doing since the age of 10). In their desecration of the Constitution and their run up to the war I saw the insanity for what it was. I knew then, that if I didn't speak out I would be guilty of the greater crime of silence. So, I spoke out and in turn I was publicly villified, threatened, and assaulted. I even had a right wingnut stalker. Well, I was right about all this, wasn't I? And so were a whole lot of other people.

I'm not particularly interested in the tender sensitivities of all those people who voted for dubya in 2000 and 2004 because they weren't paying attention, or because they watched too much of the Faux News Channel and now, suddenly, think something isn't quite right. Well, I want them to really see what their actions wrought. However uncomfortable or squeamish it makes them feel. Then maybe, just maybe, they won't make the same mistake a third time.

It's not "spite and ill will", it's justice. There is a difference.

If we do not hold dubya and his administration accountable for their actions now, we then condemn those in the future to be held to account.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-07 04:12PM | 0 recs
How does it "hold them accountable"...

...if it won't come to a Senate vote before Bush leaves office in January of 2009?

Remember how long the Clinton impeachment took?  And that was with the media backing the GOP all the way, and the Republicans' dropping everything else on their agenda, AND having a tighter grip on both Houses of Congress than the Democrats have right now.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

    Chris, what part of impeachable offense don't you understand? The criteria for impeachment of the president are High crimes and midemeanors. Lets see now. Illegal preemptive war against country with no proof, just like Nazi Germany's attack against Poland? Check. Genocide that will cause over a million deaths. Check. Contempt of Congress by assuming dictatorial powers. Check. Obstruction of Justice (Plamgate). Check. Pergery. Check. Listen, With what Bush has done, Nixon shouldn't have been impeached; the bastard should have been given the Congressional Medal of Honor!

by alexsycara 2006-12-07 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Nixon wasn't impeached... he resigned.

by Kalex 2006-12-07 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Chris, you're writing this because you're smart and what you've said needed to be articulated clearly.  The hatred of the Bush administration among progressives is palpable.  Impeachment doesn't even seem enough.  (My own fantasies run more along the lines of carrying them off in chains and sent to Gitmo; the only possible use I see for waterboarding is to use it on the Neocons.)  That said, I'm in total agreement with you that Democrats will gain much more from doing SOMETHING that involves delivering needed government services to the people.  

If two years are taken up with retribution, where are we on healthcare, the environment, the economy, fair and honest voting, shutting down the K Street Project?  Pelosi is smart enough to know that she needs to look like a problem-solver, not an angry mommy, to get America on her side.  I really don't want to see people ham-string her with damands for punishment.  Investigation of war profiteering -- by all means!  Impeachment -- a waste of time.  History will judge Bush, harshly.  No presidential library "think" tank in the world can white-wash what he's done.

by jukesgrrl 2006-12-07 08:34AM | 0 recs
This is all

just illusion, confusion and a total misreading of any history of Congress.  

Nothing happens like this comment by NealB.  Nothing.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

The best thing I heard about impeachment is that it is not a political party process.  It is in the Constitution as a safeguard for the people, not for the parties to use politically, which is what happened with Clinton. The Founding Fathers were mostly extremely sceptical about the interests of political parties.

Impeachment, to arise from the Constitution's purpose for it, would need to follow from the facts gathered through investigation and oversight and become so obvious to the people that it would be demanded by them.  That could still happen, but it certainly shouldn't according to this come from a political campaign or independent PACS set up to achieve impeachment.  So let the Congress do its mandated oversight and we shall see if a call to impeachment arises from overwhelming evidence.

Until then, Congress should govern and get things done, including oversight.  Let impeachment be a result (if it should come to that, which I hope it does not), not a purpose, of government actually working.

by ktmseattle 2006-12-07 08:36AM | 0 recs
Oversight and investigation, yes

Impeachment would be a total error.  

We would lose both the House and the Senate.

In fact, impeachment is what the Republicans want MOST OF ALL. They desperately want us to squander the next 2 years chasing this Children's Crusade of a stupidity.  That way, they can call the Dems the Party of Hate Bush, the Party of No Ideas, the Party of Divisiveness, the Party of Hate, etc.

And the Dems would be making explanations.   If you are making explanations, you are losing.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Oversight and investigation, yes

Dataguy writes,


In fact, impeachment is what the Republicans want MOST OF ALL. They desperately want us to squander the next 2 years chasing this Children's Crusade of a stupidity.  That way, they can call the Dems the Party of Hate Bush, the Party of No Ideas, the Party of Divisiveness, the Party of Hate, etc

Who are you? a troll? This is scare talk, the kind of thing Republicans fantasize about. This model is totally based on the Republican impeachment of Clinton, which was transparently about Republicans trying to lynch Clinton. Everyone knew it. It completely ignores Watergate, which is much the better model. You remember what happened? After Nixon's resignation, the Democrats won the next presidential election (Carter).

However, if the Democrats take the high road, and make impeachment about defending the Constitution, as well they should, the public will rally behind them, and Democrats will roll over more incumbent Republicans in 2008.

by Bob Schacht 2006-12-07 02:02PM | 0 recs
You have not been paying attention

That is EXACTLY what they would say.  I can write the ads already.

They ALREADY say this stuff about Dems.  If we rush into impeachment, they would merely say it louder.

Rule of Politics # 120: If you are explaining, you are losing.

We would be explaining, and we would lose the House, Senate and WH in 2008.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 02:07PM | 0 recs
Excellent summary

As Chris suggests, it's not going to affect the view of those who prefer not to be confused with the facts.

But clearly and concisely summarised.

Quick question: why does official Dem prose (eg, New Direction) have to be so eye-gougingly ghastly?

Quick answer: pay Chris megabucks to write the stuff for them!

by skeptic06 2006-12-07 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent summary - I agree

We need more thought and clear views of this, and far less revenge fantasy.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 10:56AM | 0 recs
The problem

That's always the problem.

People want to do the right thing, but they're afraid someone, somewhere, will spin what they do to  their distinct disadvantage. Given the disfunctional nature of our society, our institutions, and our government, I can't say I blame people for being squeamish.

That's the problem.

Has dubya committed impeachable offenses? You bet. In spades.

We need to do the right thing. Our Congressional institutions need to expose dubya and his administration of malfeasance. The power of subpoena is a good thing, the self-righteous cable gasbags be damned.

Most of all, I want to hear the inside-the beltway chattering classes explain to me why getting a blow job in the Oval Office is an impeachable offense, and why committing crimes against humanity are not.

It's all in the timing. The vote to impeach should come in January 2009 - in the interim between the seating of the new Congress and the swearing in of the new President.

Because we can.  

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-07 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The problem

I think "Because we can" was exactly the rationale the Republicans used to impeach Clinton.  That may have lost them the Presidency (before the Supreme Court got it back for them).

I agree that Bush is impeachable, but that doesn't make it a good political idea.

And really, what says "interested in revenge, not progress" like impeaching someone two weeks before he leaves office?  That will never happen.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The problem

It's about accountability, without getting in the way of good governance. Though, the supremes blew it with Clinton v. Jones (95-1853), 520 U.S. 681 (1997

...We add a final comment on two matters that are discussed at length in the briefs: the risk that our decision will generate a large volume of politically motivated harassing and frivolous litigation, and the danger that national security concerns might prevent the President from explaining a legitimate need for a continuance.

We are not persuaded that either of these risks is serious. Most frivolous and vexatious litigation is terminated at the pleading stage or on summary judgment, with little if any personal involvement by the defendant. See Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. 12, 56. Moreover, the availability of sanctions provides a significant deterrent to litigation directed at the President in his unofficial capacity for purposes of political gain or harassment. [n.42] History indicates that the likelihood that a significant number of such cases will be filed is remote. Although scheduling problems may arise, there is no reason to assume that the District Courts will be either unable to accommodate the President's needs or unfaithful to the tradition--especially in matters involving national security--of giving "the utmost deference to Presidential responsibilities." [n.43] Several Presidents, including petitioner, have given testimony without jeopardizing the Nation's security. See supra, at 23. In short, we have confidence in the ability of our federal judges to deal with both of these concerns.


- quit nicely drawn out, eh. They were wrong.

The beauty of impeachment in the interim is in imposing accountability with a minimum of impact on the business of the republic.

Oh yeah, impeachment can be a political act. The republicans can and will pull that trigger. They have to fear others will too, just to make them think twice about ever doing it again for political purposes.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-07 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

The only way you get to impeachment is to hold investigations. As long as the Democrats pursue investigations in a responsible and appropriate fashion (while also making sure that those investigations don't get in the way of either passing legislation or the perception that the Democrats are putting the business of the country front-and-center), then everything else will follow naturally.

In other words, either those investigations will create public and congressional support for impeachment or they won't.

The investigations, however, are non-negotiable (IMO): Failing to investigate the massive corruption of the past several years would be a dereliction of duty, plain and simple.

by Justin Alexander 2006-12-07 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
I agree with Justin: investigations are absolutely necessary. And, I believe, those investigations (and the administration's attempts to stonewall them) will actuallly push Congress into an impeachment mode. Did anyone see Republican Senator Charles Grassley on CSPAN this morning on the floor of the Senate explaining why he was opposed to the ending the fillibuster against the appointment of the new FDA head? As he made clear, using charts and graphics and Democrats' own 2006 campaign rhetoric, it is all about the Executive Branch's refusal to admit that there is such a thing as Congressional oversight. So, Bush/Cheney, et al, will focus on stonewalling Democratic attempts to investigate, prompting a Constitutional crisis (at least, bringing it out into the open), and Democrats will be forced to either impeach or admit to a permanent reordering of power among the branches of government established by the Constitution.
by Mike Stagg 2006-12-07 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Exactly. Everyone should be able to agree upon this and stop worrying about making strategic arguments about whether impeachment proceedings would help or hinder us in '08.

by The Cunctator 2006-12-07 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I agree with your analysis of how practical this is.  At the same time, I disagree with your analysis of how necessary it is. This administration has committed crimes against humanity and has damaged our democracy. We cannot ignore that record.  Yes, of course the media will blow its hot air all over the place, but Congress isn't there to provide entertainment.  It's supposed to do the work of the people, and the work of the people at this point has to include ensuring that our freedoms are never again threatened from within.  The gasbags be damned.

by cmac 2006-12-07 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I thought it was interesting as the figures came in showing there would be a Democratic majority in Congress that the conservative pundits immediately began asking in hushed tones whether there would be impeachment proceedings.

Why would they ask that question, unless even they thought that there were good grounds?  I mean, surely that isn't the usual topic of conversation when power in Congress switches hands?

by catherineD 2006-12-07 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I'm not sure why you're writing this either.

You've added a net zero to the discussion.

This comment has nothing to do with the substantive position you've taken, except to say that there was no particular value to your restating exactly the same substantive position taken by dozens before you.

Naturally, it's no secret that I disagree with those positions, but that doesn't even enter into this. What I'm saying here is that all of this has been said before.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 09:32AM | 0 recs
Seems pretty thoughtful to me

but then, I'm a thoughtful guy.

I like to think the consequences all the way through, from A to Z, not from A to B.

He discussed the cons pretty carefully.

You don't have anything on your side.  You have not a single Senator.  I have never seen a single pro-impeachment person even TRY to sketch out a time-line.  

Why not try to sketch out your side's position?

How long would it take?

What would be the political cost?

Where is the Popular support (HINT: YOU NEED 75 % MINIMUM HERE)?

by dataguy 2006-12-07 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Seems pretty thoughtful to me

I've actually done this already. The point of my commenting here is that everything Chris had to say has been said a hundred times over.

This was a cut and paste post. He's entitled to it, of course. But it's neither news, nor original analysis.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Seems pretty thoughtful to me
Gee, thanks for your approval Kargo X. I'm sorry for repeating something someone said to you in a discussion once somehwere that I was not a part of and didn't know took place. I do appreciate that you think the I have the right to say it, even though you think it didn't add anything to the discussion.

Just to be on the safe side, before I write anything in the future, I run it past you to make sure it isn't something you already heard.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 11:19AM | 0 recs
Hey, no problem.

I'm not saying that wouldn't be a smart idea, either.

I'm sorry that pointing that out to you hurt you so deeply. You usually produce a lot of good original analysis, and this seemed like a throwaway post, when a much more thoughtful one would do.

All of those bullet points, then, were your own original thinking on the subject, and you've never seen them discussed anywhere?

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:45AM | 0 recs
Comment rating abuse

A couple users are giving comments a "1" rating solely for having the temerity for thinking that impeachment is a bad idea.

Knock it off.  Trying to censor opinions you don't like is childish and stupid.

by fwiffo 2006-12-07 09:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Comment rating abuse

The trick is not to care.

Be the rating, grasshopper.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-07 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Comment rating abuse
Actually, raitngs abuse is a problem, and it needs to be dealt with. I don't mind whne people point it out. This is especially the case on MyDD, when so few people rate, and someitmes how one person rates and screw up an entire thread.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Comment rating abuse

In the scheme of things does one bad rating (or two) really mess someone up? A "1" is a "1" is a "1". I admit I do find it irritating when someone's comment is zeroed out - especially when the responses are educational. We can sometimes learn a lot in reading those responses about how to counter the opposition.

In another place - a long time ago - I instituted a "troll museum" - it kept the troublemakers at bay (they could no longer complain about "censorship") and it helped educate the community about who the trolls were and about some techniques for dealing with them.

by Michael Bersin 2006-12-07 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Probably? Bush confessed to numerous felonies when he revealed he was doing an end-around on the FISA court.

Slam dunk.

I'm of the mind that these people are criminals, whose only loyalty is to money and power. They are a cancer on the body politic, and should therefore be excised. Their illegally obtined weath should be confiscated, and Halliburton, Blackwater, etc., should receive the corporate death penalty.

Bush and Cheney, and their toadies, should not only be impeached, but tried for war crimes, both here in the States and in the ICC in Den Hague.

Whatever happened to the rule of law?

I think this timidity over impeachment is a direct result of the witch-hunt that turned the Cliton presidency into a political triage unit. It's put us off our food, so to speak.

Well, I for one don't like the idea that we shouldn't impeach because it would be messy politically, and I'm really quite shocked that many on the progressive side of the blogosphere don't seem to have the stomach for this.

Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!

We cannot let them get away with this criminal behavior.

Period.

by Tod Westlake 2006-12-07 09:41AM | 0 recs
How about we restore US legal rights first?

Got a lot of serious problems to fix and impeachment impedes solving those problems.

If Congress simply restored civil rights we lost from Patriot Act that would be huge...a No.1 on the list kind of thing.

Something that could be done RIGHT NOW.

That'd be a nice netroots campaign item.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-07 09:43AM | 0 recs
I agree with much of the commentary

here, perhaps summarized as proceeding with a "Do Something" Congress, passing middle and lower-class progressive bills and sending them to Bush, daring the veto and letting the Republicans scramble to explain the opposition.  All the while, Conyers, Waxman, Dingell, et al proceed with their investigations (and this time with subpoena power and not in the basement).  If impeachment becomes so obvious within 1 year (not 2 years because 2008 will be an election year), then it will be because the Republicans are holding their own accountable like Nixon's forced resignation.

Impeachment is the only method to hold Bush accountable while in a Constitutional Office, if I am not mistaken.  Out of office, however, and would it not open up crimes against humanity (for one example) prosecutions for a citizen, no longer protected by a Constitutional Office?  Germany isn't waiting to go after Rumsfeld, is it not possible that the Bush-Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-etc. cabal can be held to account well into the future, after the Democratic Party has shown (again) that it really does a good job at governing, despite the RWCM trying their hardest to show otherwise?

by Intellectually Curious 2006-12-07 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with much of the commentary

The overlooked problem here is that no kind of criminal prosecution can address the issues of "high crimes," which is what impeachment is for, of course.

Now, what are "high crimes?" Well, they're not crimes committed at altitude. As they were understood by the founders, they were crimes against the Constitution, and against the government and nation at large. What sorts of crimes were those? Crimes like usurping the legislative prerogative and nullifying duly passed legislation unilaterally, on the claim of "inherent powers." Among other things.

No ordinary criminal prosecution can address those issues, because they're not ordinary criminal statutes. And while there are certainly ordinary criminal standards that have been abrogated, none of them offer the opportunity to address the central question of whether or not they may be violated with impunity while a president serves in office.

There's only one way to do that. But that's being ignored for the moment. Apparently this is a strategic discussion. An old one that we've been over a hundred times already, but a strategic discussion nonetheless.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 09:54AM | 0 recs
Civil Prosecutions could do it

And the examples of Agnew and Clinton show that sitting Prezzes and Veep can be sued, even for the flimsiest of reasons.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Civil Prosecutions could do it

Civil prosecutions could do it?

Tell us how.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 04:51AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I tend to agree with Chris on this. Nothing would unite the GOP faster than impeachment, and nothing would distract from our agenda more either. Unforuntately the reality of politics is that sometimes doing what we feel is right is not in the best interests of our party, or our nation.

Also, does anyone really like the sound of "President Cheney"? Assuming we wouldn't impeach both (which the country would never tolerate IMHO), Dick would be running the show for the next two years, and all of us on this blog might have a government sponsored 'vacation' to a naval base in Cuba.

by bjschmid 2006-12-07 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I'd like to address this as dryly as possible.

We only get to "President Cheney" in a post-impeachment atmosphere, which means we have a Congress that has thoroughly investigated the grounds for impeachment, found them present, and has flexed its muscle to the point of removing the first sitting president in American history.

Against that background, I'm not sure how scary a "President Cheney" really is.

A Congress that can impeach and remove Bush is a Congress that can either keep a "President Cheney" well in check, or dispense with him as well.

Hell, the paperwork will already have been done.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 09:58AM | 0 recs
And after that

we'll just light up our cigars and float to Jupiter.

I just love the hard-headed, thoughtful plans here.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 10:49AM | 0 recs
Yawn.

Tell us all why it's so hard-headed and thoughtful to believe that a Congress that's just finished impeaching and removing a sitting president would suddenly forget how they'd done it, and why.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:03AM | 0 recs
I hope you're being disingenuous.

He means that it's pure fantasy to think that we will remove two sitting Presidents in two years.  That's not a congressional proceeding, it's a putsch.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I hope you're being disingenuous.

But it's "fantasy" that's conditional on becoming partially real.

You can't just drop the "hard-headed analysis" after  Phase I, and then pretend Phase I didn't happen, and analyze Phase II as if it didn't.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:19AM | 0 recs
Many on the pro-impeachment side

say things like "Cheney would resign" and "then we would take out Cheney."

It's just a revenge fantasy.

There is no thought in this.  It's just a bunch of giddy teenagers, talking about how, when the parents go to Chicago, they are gonna have a HUGE PARTEEEE, man.

No thought - not even a single one - about WHEN THE 'RENTS return.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Um, NealB, you are aware that impeachment isn't the same as conviction, right?  The Republicans in '98 had the votes to impeach, but not to convict.  Much good it did them.

Plus, what you're describing--Congress resolving to take out the entire executive branch by fiat--sounds like a pretty Bushistic abuse of power to me.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I agree with your second point

but he does say 'veto-proof majority in the senate'

by Valatan 2006-12-07 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Fair enough.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:59AM | 0 recs
Impeachment?Conviction

Just to reiterate, being able to impeach the President is not the same as being able to remove him from office.  I mention this only because a number of peple here seem to be wondering whether getting Bush would enough, or if we could get the next in line, too.  Guys, it will never, ever come to that point.

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:11AM | 0 recs
Where do you buy that stuff?

Wish I had me some weed like you got.

If you ain't on weed or acid, you are seriously deranged.  There is no one with the tenacity of Cheney.  It would be 15-18 months before anything happened.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 12:28PM | 0 recs
Restoration, Not Impeachment

This is exactly what I wrote on DailyKos at Thanksgiving:

I do honestly believe that both Bush and Cheney deserve to be impeach, tried on charges of High Treason, convicted, and hanged, drawn, and quartered the old-school British way. ;-)  However, from a political standpoint, I don't think that'd help either us or the country all that much.

What would help is the vigorous investigation process that would eventually lead to impeachment, but we'd be better served by using those investigations as a tool to educate the public and build a real movement to undo all of the damage the last twelve years of Republican rule have wrought.

Read more

by Sean Robertson 2006-12-07 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

1) Democrats don't impeach Bush, Congress impeaches Bush.  We would not impeach Bush without bipartisan cooperation.

2) Impeachment isn't a legislative priority, it is a tool to use in case Bush willfully flouts Congressional authority.

3) Taking impeachment off the table is removing a huge source of potential leverage, for no reason.

4) Impeachment could be critical to governance in various scenarios I'm playing in my head.

You're setting up a straw man, Chris.  Impeachment isn't something to push for unless it's clearly necessary as tool to push back on Executive authority overreach.  Let's see how Bush reacts to Congress, and then figure out whether the public is satisfied with his intrangience.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-07 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

He's setting up someone else's straw man, at that.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I'm kind of courious about the senerios which would lead to an impeachment that you've got running through your head.

I do agree however, that taking impeachment "off the table" is not a good idea and is the equivalent to a president taking the use of military force "off the table" during an international incident. There are too many unknowns, such as whether Bush will clearly and openly defy a duly enacted statute in an unprecendented power grab by the executive branch. He's pushing the line, but not quite there. It would also be interesting to see where the chips would fall in the event he faced a joint resolution calling for the troops to  withdraw, and he ignored it.  

by bjschmid 2006-12-07 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I think you're answering your own question.

One other scenario I'd add is if when the "administration" begins ignoring our vaunted "subpoena power."

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Kagro is right. Do you remember what led to Nixon's downfall? It was the fight over subpoena power. That is exactly where the current battle is headed.

In Watergate, remember, it was the Special Prosecutor's attempt to subpoena the White House Tapes that Nixon initially refused, and then fired Archie Cox in the infamous Saturday Night Massacre that rallied public opinion and sealed Nixon's fate. The current administration is equally obstinate about subpoenas.

Scenarios? Don't forget the critical role of Special Prosecutors in Watergate, and don't forget that we already have a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, and he has already been cleared to essentially investigate whatever he wants to (Oh, happy day!) Everyone has been overlooking this. I think that all it would take to get him started is for a congressional committee to hand him something and ask him to investigate it-- and I don't think he even needs to wait for that.

Bob in HI

by Bob Schacht 2006-12-07 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
It's not a strawman. There are 1,296 diaries or stories on Dailykos with the tag impeachment. It is one of the most oft-discussed topics in diaries there, and the diaries often make it on the rec list. I was writing this diary largely after reading a few diaries on Dailykos yesterday that brought the subject ot mind.

And I do not agree with keeping all options on the table as a form of levredge. It reminds me of the notion that we should keep pre-emptively nuking Iran on the table as a form of leverage against them. That idea was crzy--it wasn't a form of levredge. Imeacphing Bush is a lot less crazy than that, but I still don't think it is a good idea. I actually think it could potentially help our forthcoming investigations to take it off hte table. Otherwise, everything we do wold simply be spun as leading toward impeachment.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

One of the reasons you keep it on the table is that it's the power that underlies the "subpoena power" that Pelosi is still willing to promise we'll exercise.

Constitutionally speaking, Congress has no independent enforcement power for its subpoenas. The penalty for defying a Congressional subpoena is contempt of Congress, but contempt charges are prosecuted at the discretion of the U.S. Attorney, which is, of course, a branch of the "unitary executive." Congress may even have to rely on the executive to even serve those subpoenas, since they're typically served by the U.S. Marshals Service, also a branch of the DoJ.

So to the extent that the "off the table" promise is iron-clad, the much-vaunted "subpoena power" is literally dependent on the "administration's" voluntary compliance with it.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

So, if 69% of the public supported impeachment, would you still oppose it?

by Tair 2006-12-07 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Yes yes, good point--and might I add, what if 169% supported impeachment?  Then what would your position be?

by tomemos 2006-12-07 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

If 69% of the public supported impeachment we wouldn't be having this discussion.

by bjschmid 2006-12-07 10:53AM | 0 recs
75 % is my minimum

Because we already have about 40 % - all the dems.

Independents are 20 % or so, varying from locale to locale. That gets you to about 2/3 of them is 13 %, and we are up to 53 %.

Now, we need 1/2 the republicans.  That's about 20 %, and we are at 75 %  or close to it.

Unless we have about that, we are shooting ourselves.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
If 69% of the public supported imepachment, we would have 400 seats in Congress.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:45PM | 0 recs
This Is A BAD Argument, Chris

I probably agree with you at a fundamental level as much as anyone else at this site, particularly among long-time commentators.  (I signed up back in the day when you could still comment as "anonymous hero.")  But this is really BAD argument, Chris.  Possibly the first I've ever heard from you that I would characterize that way.

Why is that?  Simple: It completely disregards principle on an issue where principle cannot rightly be ignored, and it sacrifices principle to expediency without considering how the two might be reconciled.

Now, I happen to agree substantially with your general conclusion--that impeachment has virtually no chance to succeed, and a potential to actually help the Republicans.  (Although your citation of polls is misleading, since the question is typically "Based on what you have read or heard, do you believe that President Bush should be impeached and removed from office, or don't you feel that way?", which is certainly premature to ask even before an investigation has even begun.) But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, if it is both right and necessary to do.

My problem with impeachment is simply this: it's too little, too late.  Our problem is that we didn't impeach Reagan and Bush over Iran-Contra.  That failure--in the name of the same sort of lame excuses being trotted out right now--paved the way both for the purely political witch-hunt impeachment of Bill Clinton, and for the wholesale lawlessness of the Bush Regime.  At this stage, impeaching Bush and Cheney would not come close to remedying the problem they embody and symbolize.

Therefore, I strongly support continued activism around impeachment, because I think these issues need to be raised.  But they are only one facet of the systemic corruption, and virtual abandonment of democracy--and its preconditions dating back to the Magna Charta--that we now face.

The substantive political issues that Chris points to, as well as the winning of the presidency in 2008, and beyond that, the continued transformation of the Congress, the strengthening of the 50-state project, all these are vitally important as well.  But even if we could successfully pursue them in a constitutional vacuum, they alone would not secure our future.

I don't have a simple pre-packaged way to resolve and combine these perspectives.  There is a tension here, and it ultimately cannot go away until we have returned to constitutional government, which we have not had for quite some time--since November 2000 at the very least, but I would argue since Iran/Contra and the October Surprise before it.

The more that "sensible, pragmatic" types dismiss this as "impractical," the more it feeds the more irrational forces that can increasingly focus on impeachment.  We have already seen what a liability it is to have an often self-marginalizing peace movement, rather than one that cannot be ignored.  This is why even the most hard-nosed realists within the Democratic activist community should want to treat the impeachment option with dignity and respect, despite disagreeing with it: because we need a healthy tension between different factions, and positions, each represented by its best possible advocates.

The principle here is exactly the same that I have always had toward people on the opposite wing of the party--the "centrists."  I do not attack Lieberman because he is a centrist, but because he is a bad centrist, a party-destroying centrist.  He is, ultimately, a very bad representative for centrists, and I'm glad that a number of centrists on this site have said so themselves.  I will certainly criticize all centrists because of policy differences, but I will just as assuredly understand Senator Nelson's position representing Nebraska, and not expect him to vote and speak out like Boxer, Feingold, or Sanders.

And I ask the same sort of consideration for high-calibre impeachment activists as well.  We are strenghtened by our diversity when it is principled and well-argued.  We are strengthened by a diversity of organizing approaches as well.  We are strengthened by our ability to keep our minds open to new ideas and new information, even as we remain committed to our chosen positions.  We can not only walk and chew gum at the same time, we can do it with dignity, grace, compassion and mutual respect.

And we can make America be America again.  As  Langston Hughes said:

"O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again."

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-07 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A BAD Argument, Chris
I'm not really sure what you are arguing here, Paul. I didn't insult anyone in this post. I stated what I thought. The only reference I made to people holding opposing views was that they probably wouldn't change their minds because of this post.

And the argument that I am somehow obligated to be a rational voice within the imepachment movement--I heard the same thing about the stolen eleciton stuff in 2004. It was as though I was obligated to comb thorugh all of their data, and tell them what made sense and what did not. I am not obligated to do that.

IF those who favor a impeachment want me to be on their side, then they have to lobby me--I don't have to sort out their own caucus for them in a way that makes sense for me. Some people in this thread have made the reasonable and sensible argument that investigations could lead to impeachment depending on what the investigations turn up, and depsending on how they sway public opinion. That's fine. That makes sense. Other have made arguments that don't make sense to me at all. A few have resorted to invectives--and I stopped reading their posts once they did.

I'm not insulting anyone, and I am not making proclimations form high on the mountaintop here. If people think I am wrong, then they should tell me why. I'll either agree or digree with what they say. But I dind't insult anyone. Or maybe I'm not understanding what you wrote at all.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:55PM | 0 recs
Let Me Be Perfectly Clear

I wasn't attacking you, Chris.  If I'd thought that you were insulting someone, I would have come out and said it--particularly because it would be so uncharacteristic of you.  (I'm at least one standard deviation snarkier than you, probably two or three.) I was criticizing the basic orientation of the argument, however, and the way it seemed to pre-emptively cut off all further debate, which will inevitably have the result of leaving some people feeling insulted--needlessly so, I might add.  (See, for example, how Kos cited it on his front page.)

I certainly wasn't saying you're "somehow obligated to be a rational voice within the imepachment movement."  But I was saying you should recognize that such voices exist, and respond to them.  This is how you raise the game, by responding to the best arguments on the other side, not the worst ones.

There are, of course, times when you have to respond to the worst arguments--when you're arguing with Republicans, for example.  But as you yourself said, "I can't imagine people on either side of this issue changing their minds even a little bit based upon what I write," so if it's clearly not about changing minds on the basics then it surely ought to be about elevating the debate. No?

You've written some of the most flat-out brilliant and fundamental pieces of analysis over the past few years, several in a row directly out of your post-2004 elections.  Here, however, you just seem to have hit the snooze button.  Any number of other people could have written this.  And if they had, I'd have thought to myself, "Gee, I'd much rather have read what Chris Bowers has to say.  He would have added some more depth to it.  Maybe even a whole new dimension."

But you didn't.  And that's a real loss.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-07 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Let Me Be Perfectly Clear
Well, you are certainly right about pretty much all of this, espcially the part about me being brilliant. :-)

Yes, I probably should only espond to the rational voices, some of which hae appeared in these comments. that would be the best thing, and it would stengthen the coalition. And we would all be smarter on this issue.

But you realyl have to understand how blogging happens. I knew yesterday that I was going to write a post on this today. I had a 1:30 meeting downtown and I was working on FEC stuff for most of the mroning. Given how little I had bene blogging the past few days, I had to write something--and I ahd to write it fast. That's not bullshit--you really have to do that as a blogger.

And last night I was reading some dairies at Dailykos, including those on the rec list, that really seemed to be slighting anyone who opposed impeachment. I am human, too, even if I have gotten over pretty much every insult someone can throw me way. My skin is a lot tougher than when I started, but I still think it would be bad if the things people wrote to disagree with a position of mine never affected me at all.

And so, yes, I wrote a fairly quick post, becuase I had to. And, to a certian extent, I wrote it because some of the less rational voices were starting to really irritate me. I still don't think it is that bad of a post, although there are obviously ways it could be better. Althoguh think it serves a purpose, even if it wasn't written as well as it could have been.

But that is how blogging gets made. I didn't carefully edit every bit of the 2,700 posts I have made on MyDD. I have always done my best to meet my time requriements, my standards for writing on this site, and, yes, to elevate the discussion and strengthen the coalition. I stnd by teh general postion o fhtis post, even though there is an off-cahcne that investigations will lead public opinion for imepachment soaring. In the event hat happens, calculations will change. but I am not holidng my breath.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 01:59PM | 0 recs
I Understand

Chris,

Believe me I understand how this works.  I have done intense stints myself, both online and off.  I think what you could have done, given the circumstances you describe, is simply frame it a bit differently, and put some of this context into the post itself--about responding to an avalanche of diaries, yadda yadda yadda.  A short caveat would have gone a long way, IMHO.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 as the saying goes.  Also, that's what editors are for.  And blogging doesn't have them.

Speaking of time constraints, I've GOT to run.  But one final note: the polling figures on impeachment are misleading, as they're highly sensitive to how they're phrased.  Low support for impeachment and removal from office before any hearings have even been held should not be surprising.  And waiting for them to change is tantamont to ruling it out forever.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-07 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A BAD Argument, Chris

Chris,
Thanks for talking this up-- even if you're on the wrong side-- way wrong! <G>

You wrote,


IF those who favor a impeachment want me to be on their side, then they have to lobby me--I don't have to sort out their own caucus for them in a way that makes sense for me.

OK, please let me try.

Impeachment is not about bashing Bush, or getting revenge, or anything like that. Its about defending our Constitution! Every member of Congress takes an oath of office to defend the Constitution. They ought to get serious about it.

And everyone who has a pulse should know what the Bush administration is doing. What is involved is not merely a third-rate burglary with a cover-up, which was bad enough (Watergate). This is about a systematic attempt by this Republican administration to undermine the Constitutional balance of powers, using the theoretical construct of the Unitary Executive, bolstered by their hired gun, John Yoo. Dick Cheney has been the driving force behind this bloodless coup. This power-grab underlies most of the most obnoxious and odious practices of the Bush-Cheney regime.

And their systematic efforts have not gone unnoticed-- if you didn't hear Al Gore's fabulous speech on this subject last January, please go right now to <http://www.draftgore.com/exec_power.htm&gt; and read the speech transcript on "The Limits of Executive Power: Restoring the Rule of Law", addressed to the American Constitutional Society on January 16 (video transcript available).

Near the end of his speech, he summed things up in this way:


We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, and I quote: "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

But if Al Gore is not your cup of tea, please take a look at

War Powers: How the Imperial Presidency Hijacked the Constitution by Peter Irons (Hardcover - Aug 5, 2005)

The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War, and Illegal Domestic Surveillance (The Conyers Report)
Online at: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/consti tutionincrisis

and

"George W. Bush versus the U.S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying," by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, a book that not only collects the evidence but also tells us what Congressman John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is thinking (the full text, minus a new introduction by Joseph Wilson, is available at http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/consti tutionincrisis.)

For these reasons, it seems to me that impeachment is a moral imperative for anyone who cares about the U.S. Constitution.

Bob in HI

P.S. please excuse my lack of fluency in html.

by Bob Schacht 2006-12-07 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A BAD Argument, Chris
Look, nothing is more important to me than defending American Democracy. I imaigne nothing was more important to the Free French than retaking Paris. But that doesn't mean we strike at the center goal immediately, and leave all strategic concerns aside. If De Gaulle had ordered every member of the resistance to march on Paris from day one, because that was the principled thing to do, the resistance would not have been so effective. We do, in fact, need to take strategic concerns on how to accomplish our goals into account.

Yes, we have to stop their systematic attept to undermine our democracy. But I don't see how pursuign this in the next two years will help us accomplish that goal.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A BAD Argument, Chris

Chris wrote,


Yes, we have to stop their systematic attept to undermine our democracy. But I don't see how pursuign this in the next two years will help us accomplish that goal.

Thanks for your response, but all I can say is
WTF!?!?!? This is incredible logic. How about  stopping them before they do any more damage ???

Remember, there's a two-step process here:

  1. Passing bad laws that cripple the role of Congressional oversight, such as the Republicans did in the last Congress; and
  2. Writing bad policy into the Code of Federal Regulations to implement those laws.

Hopefully with the new Congress there will be no more of the first, but there could be plenty more of the second, especially with Bush & Cheney's expansive views of Presidential power. Starting a House Committee on Impeachment to investigate violations of the Constitution would put Bush & Co. on notice, and might slow down the pace of executive over-reach. I feel a real sense of urgency here. Do you really think that Cheney is going to slow down? Have you started to think about what last-minute desperate moves Cheney & Bush might make to push their agenda forward? Have you thought about the extent to which their approach to expanding Presidential Power is based on creating "facts on the ground" that will be hard for anyone to undo in the future? These guys are dangerous. We don't have the leisure to wait around for two more years to see what they will dream up.

The only thing that might make Cheney slow down is the realization that the expansive presidential powers he is pushing might wind up in the hands of Speaker Pelosi as acting president!

Bob in HI

by Bob Schacht 2006-12-07 04:57PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A BAD Argument, Chris

Arguments can be made for either side, but very few people look at either side.  This is especially true of the pro-impeachment folk, who seem to think that anyone who questions the wisdom of trying to impeach Bush is some sort of GOP tool or plant.

My opinion is largely that Kos and Chris are right, and that a full-bore impeachment drive by the Democratic Congress would wind up stalling out the rest of the Democratic agenda -- which is already being sabotaged by the outgoing GOP Congress' refusal to work on any legislation before adjourning, thus guaranteeing a HUGE legislative backlog for Reid and Pelosi when Congress reconvenes next month.

People forget that impeachments take a LONG TIME and pretty much bring Congress to a halt.  Bush's term will have expired before he could be removed by impeachment -- so how does this "punish" him or show that we are "serious" about accountability?  Even with dropping everything else on their agenda, the GOP Congress during Clinton's second term still took two years to get to the point where a vote could be held in the Senate -- and Clinton was acquitted.  

Furthermore, let's assume for the sake of argument that by a miracle, the impeachment process whipped through both Houses of Congress and that the Senate voted to convict and remove Bush before January of 2009.  All that does is give us President Cheney.  Do you really want that?  

Hint to the wise:  If you must impeach someone, impeach Cheney instead of Bush.  It'd be much, MUCH easier to pull off.  Better yet, bring criminal or civil charges against him, or civil charges against Bush -- that would be even easier to do, and it would free up the Democrats in Congress to actually do the people's business, like going through the United States Code and undoing all the land mines BushCo's embedded therein.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:06PM | 0 recs
Re: This Is A BAD Argument, Chris

Name us a "civil charge" you could bring against Bush that would accomplish any of the ends of impeachment.

And tell us under what precedent you'd succeed in convincing the courts that a sitting president is subject to civil suit for actions taken while in office.

Don't point to Clinton. The reason the suit against him was permitted to proceed was that it was for actions taken prior to assuming office, and the courts were pretty clear about that.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Bowers, you're now officially on record, along with Pelosi, Dean, and Reid- you oppose impeaching President George W. Bush.

Fine, that's your belief.  But remember that we do not live in a static world.  Things change, and perceptions change in light of new information.  When Dems start to investigate and discover illegal and extremely immoral activities, perceptions will change.

You think it's soooooo smart to avoid impeachment, because you're scared s--tless of the media?  Fine, wait until Leahy, Waxman and others uncover some truly jaw-dropping behavior (like, for example, illegal surveillance of anti-war groups or Democrats).

Then come back and explain why you thought it was a brilliant move to oppose impeachment before you even knew what the hell's been going on in the Administration.  I'm going to love seeing all of you squirm around, trying to explain how you really do have principles after all, and equating support for impeachment with the GOP witch-hunt didn't really mean anything, and gosh oh golly gee I didn't know what Bush was doing!, etc.

Whatever bulls--t you throw at us in about six months, most of us won't forget.  Impeachment is an important remedy against authoritarianism, and thus is an essential part of democratic governance.  If Dems aren't willing to impeach when they're supposed to, then they don't deserve to govern, and f--k 2008.

One other thing- I guess since you believe Dems shouldn't pursue anything when they don't have the votes, I guess you also believe we should have just let Alito be confirmed, since we didn't have the votes to block him.  Oh wait...

kos, Bowers, Pelosi, Dean, Reid, all of you who are so bold when it comes to abortion but so timid when it comes to the rule of law...your stance against impeachment will come back to haunt you.  Hypocrites.

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 11:03AM | 0 recs
But I'll save a seat for you anyway.

And be glad to have you, if circumstances warrant.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: But I'll save a seat for you anyway.
Gee, thanks. That's good to know.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: But I'll save a seat for you anyway.

I ain't saying what'll be on it when you sit down, though.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
Just stop. You had me at bullshit and my being a hypocrite.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:56PM | 0 recs
Three Simple Questions

Three simple questions, but I have yet to hear answers:

1.  When would you favor impeachment?  What kind of Executive abuse is too much, even for you?

2.  How can you ensure accountability without punishment?

3.  How can you deter future Presidents from abusing their power if they know that not even this guy was impeached?

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Three Simple Questions

Interesting question -- number 1, that is -- in that it seems the answer might be, "when we can get away with it," which is, by all accounts, what most people think the motivation of the Republicans was when going after Clinton.

Of course, seeing that problem, the answer probably becomes, "when we can get Republicans to share the heavy lifting." Which would be a fine answer, at least in the context of a strategic conversation about impeachment.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Three Simple Questions

I suppose that's a sufficient answer for #1, albeit extremely unprincipled ("we don't really care what he did, as long as it offends both parties").  Doesn't really do much to advance the Progressive agenda, that's for sure.

But what about questions 2 and 3?  Does Bowers have an answer for those?

Still waiting...

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 12:30PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I agree with Chris.  Your political capital is best spent on moving forward and being constructive, not being divisive and spiteful.  It's much more damaging to the Administration and the GOP to undo all of the things they've screwed up over the last 6 years than to go on a witchhunt.

by NJIndependent 2006-12-07 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Note: Efforts to "undo all the things they've screwed up" won't be universally regarded as "moving forward and being constructive."

Someone's still going to think you're being divisive and spiteful. But you're going to go ahead, anyway.

by Kagro X 2006-12-07 11:32AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

The time to make the case for impeachment was in 2005 and 2006.  If we were going to simulpeach Bush and Cheney, we needed to do it in 2007, and that meant educating the public in 2006.  We missed that boat.

There's really no point in impeaching Bush and Cheney in 2008; they'll be all but out the door anyway.  It's absurd to hope for impeachable offenses cropping up from Congressional oversight; we already know of a few: warrantless wiretapping, the creation of an American gulag, and lying about the WMDs (or, in the alternative, not attempting to secure them upon invading Iraq).  I'd even be willing to impeach Bush over Katrina; the death of an American city is no trivial matter.

An impeachment resolution is a privileged resolution; the majority party can't bury it in committee without the assent of the minority.  This is an argument we could have made while the GOP was still riding high; it might've brought them down a notch a bit earlier than otherwise.

Just for the hell of it, I wrote up my own articles of impeachment last year.  The Dems in Congress could have as well.

by RT 2006-12-07 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

So, in your opinion, it doesn't matter what he did, only when he did it?  And we wonder why Democrats can't gain the trust of the majority of Americans...

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Wow, considering how on the mark you've been on many other matters, I can't believe how wrong and clueless you are on this one.

First, you think that Bush has "probably" committed impeachable crimes? Are you for real? I know that your focus is on electoral politics, but GEEZ, where have you been these past 6 years? Torture? Rendition? Warrantless wiretaps? Signing statements? Security letters? Abu Ghraib? Knowingly lying about pre-war intel? Outing Plame? I could go on but I think you get the point. That ANY of these isn't impeachable is absurd. That ALL of them aren't impeachable is downright batshit crazy.

And that's the formal, constitutional argument for impeachment. But I think that a political one can be made as well.

If, after conducting thorough, exhaustive and PROPER investigations and hearings (i.e. fair and non-vindictive or agenda-based, which is the ONLY kind we should be conducting), it is indisputibly demonstrated that Bush has committed multiple impeachable offenses, then not only will the public likely support impeachment, it might openly DEMAND it--and if we don't pursue it, we will likely pay the price.

And I am 100% convinced that such investigations and hearings will demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that Bush has committed multiple impeachable offenses--because he clearly HAS.

I think that you VASTLY underestimate not only the constitutional case for impeachment--which I think is all but airtight from a theoretical point of view and now only requires to be formally demonstrated--but also the principled and practical NEED for it--if we're not to sweep this all under the carpet and thus be forced to face it again someday, as we did with Watergate and Iran-Contra--as well as the political case for it, which I think will find wide public support ONCE these investigations and hearings prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Bush has committed impeachable offenses.

As for whether we'd have the votes, well, perhaps not. But that shouldn't stop us from pursuing it anyway, if the case for it is there. You don't always do things because they're achievable. Sometimes you do them because they're the right and necessary things to do. And if we won't have the votes for impeachment, what makes you think that we'll have the votes to pursue our progressive agenda? So long as Bush is in power and we have a thin 51 seat Liebermanesque majority in the senate, we won't. It won't be until '09 that we'll have any chance of implementing that agenda.

Plus, I think that if the case for impeachment is made and the public supports it (and I believe that both will happen), we could and should use this as a wedge issue in '08 against both Repubs and DINOs who vote against it--just as we should use their votes against our progressive agenda against them.

And finally, who says that we can't pursue both impeachment AND our progressive agenda? Why does it have to be either/or? I don't understand that.

Do some more reading on this before you comment further, Chris, as you're behind the curve here. Check out the various articles that have been written on this by Greenwald, Holzman and Vega, and some recent books on this that have come out by Holzman, Nichols and others. You're seriously downplaying the seriousness of Bush's crimes, and the only way that the constitution provides for dealing with them--impeachment.

This HAS to happen.

by kovie 2006-12-07 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

It's up to us (I agree with you 100,000,000%) to do the hard work and keep making the case and keep pushing. The others will come around eventually.

The barrier to impeachment is simply that many Americans need information that they don't have. Whether that information comes from Congressional investigations, or our hard work, doesn't matter. But the more methods/avenues we have to inform under-informed Americans, the better. Simply put, nobody supports getting lied into a botched war. It is our job to educate the ignorant Americans that Bush did in fact lie to start the war that has become the Iraq debacle. Once someone understands that everything bad about Iraq has happened because Bush was determined to lie about WMD intelligence (etc.) then the case for Impeachment is automatic.

When MyDD did their grass-roots poll many months ago, there should have been a properly worded Impeachment question that went like this:

Q: If President Bush deliberately lied to get support for invading Iraq, and violated the Constitution to illegally spy on Americans, and persued many other measures that violate the Constitution, would you support Impeaching President Bush?

Heck, there were conservatives who wanted to Impeach Bush for fucking up our border security (Pat Buchannan mentioned that).

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 12:51PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
Just stop. You had me at "clueless."
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Well, in what way aren't you on this issue? Some of the country's top constitutional lawyers--some of whom were actually on the house committee that voted to impeach Nixon--have been making both the constitutional AND political case for impeachment, which address many of the points that you've made.

So I called you clueless, and instead of choosing to respond to the substance of my comment, you choose to be thin-skinned and say "I don't respond to people who call me names". Like you haven't called others whom you've disagreed with names?

This is a political BLOG, Chris, and such occasional name-calling is par for the course. Respond with substance--as I think I have--and if you also want to call me names, I'm fine with that. But it is dishonest to single out a single word and make that the focus on your response.

You're not old enough to remember Watergate, and I'm guessing probably not Iran-Conta either. We swept both of these under the carpet and both came back to haunt us, in the form of BushCo. What makes you think that it won't happen again, if we do this a THIRD time.

We're all for implementing a progressive agenda. But to seek short-cuts to it--which avoiding impeachment would clearly be if that's warranted after hearings and investigations have been held--is both foolish and dangerous. There will be no meaningful and lasting implementation of a progressive agenda unless and until this administration is held substantially accountable for its massive crimes.

Disagree with me all that you like. But please don't be so dishonest as to reduce my comments to a single--and rather innocent, I think--word.

by kovie 2006-12-07 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
You are right, I did not respond to the substance of your comment. Because when someone insults me I tune out. I think that is pretty normal, and it is the fault of the person doing the insulting, not the person being insulted.

I didn't evenr ead most of this comment, because oit opened with a defense of your insult. You are not going to build colaitions, or even get peopelto listen to you, that way.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I'm not trying to build coalitions here, or even win you over or get you to listen. If you choose to not read my comments because they got a bit inflammatory (which is of course an extremely rare thing in the blogosphere, especially when the topic is as relatively unimportant as whether or not to impeach the worst and most criminal president in history), then that's your prerogative, of course.

But if you do choose to do this, then your non-substantive response to my comment--which was, I believe, substantive--will speak for itself. This is not a polite debating society here, but a place where hopefully serious people try to discuss clearly serious topics in a serious manner (which does not, I believe, preclude the occasional name-calling, which is really just blowing off steam and of relatively little importance if accompanying hopefully substantive thoughts).

Also, you should realize that I'm old enough to remember both Watergate and Iran-Contra (which I don't believe you are), so my perspective is bound to be different than yours. We simply cannot allow these Rethugs to get away with their crap yet again. There is no moving forward until we clean up BushCo's mess, and as I see it impeachment is the only way to do that properly.

But enough of this meta crap. If you have an "I don't respond to people who call me names" rule, then so be it. Duly noted for future reference.

by kovie 2006-12-07 02:18PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Btw, if I thought so little of you (which I actually and truly don't), would I have put up this diary, to date my one and only one here:

http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/10/23/171 616/56#readmore

by kovie 2006-12-07 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment
Well, thank you for saying that, and I hope you keep coming back to MyDD.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

You're welcome, and on that, you can count on. At the very least it's a good place to have, ahem, spirited debates. And, of course, it's so much more.

by kovie 2006-12-07 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Well, if we increase our majorities in '08 then we will technically have a 2 week period between the time that the 111th congress convened and the new president took office to do this with a greater chance of success. But I suspect that it might seem silly and vindictive at that point, especially if a Repub wins the presidency.

The sooner this happens, if it does happen, the better for all. But not before investigations are conducted and hearings are held, of course.

by kovie 2006-12-07 01:44PM | 0 recs
Watergate

Original burglary - June, 1972

Senate hearings begin - May, 1973

Nixon Resigns - August, 1974

This whole idea of impeachment is idiotic.  

15 MONTHS FOR NIXON.

We had the tapes there.  We don't have tapes here.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Watergate

And, just like somebody upthread, to you it doesn't matter what he did, merely when he did it.  Wow.

Do you realize what kind of message and precedent you are setting to encourage Executive Abuse in the last two years of office?  Have you really thought this through, or do you just not care what happens past 2008?

If you oppose impeachment, then you condone what Bush has done, regardless of when he did it.

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 12:46PM | 0 recs
Please try to follow this

It took 17 months to finish Nixon - subtracted wrong above.

We have 12 months.

In January, 2008, if not before, the 2008 campaign gets into high gear.  Impeachment would REALLY SERIOUSLY FUCK UP THE DEM CAMPAIGN.

It would give the repukes ammo, and NO DEM RUNNING FOR PRES WOULD EVEN CONSIDER VOTING YES.

It took 17 months for Nixon.

And you loonies are saying we can do BUSH AND CHENEY IN 12 MONTHS?

Is that your argument?

by dataguy 2006-12-07 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Please try to follow this

First, all I'm saying is don't take impeachment off the table before we know what we're dealing with.  Wait for the investigations to turn stuff up, and then decide.  That's in clear opposition to Kos and Bowers, though, who don't want to consider it at all, right now, before we've even investigated.

Second, I don't accept your time limit premise.  Congress still needs to do its work in an election year, even in (gasp!) a Presidential election year.  If investigations turn up some truly stunning criminal acts that really piss off the American public, guess what?  They're going to want Dems to impeach too...even in an election year.

Third, I reject your assumption that there is nothing and won't be anything to impeach on.  When you say "no Dem running for Pres would even consider voting yes," you're assuming impeachment will only be a political exercise, just like 1998.  That's absurd.

Fourth, it's not 1972.  It's possible (even probable) that investigations will move quicker, and thus the impeachment option will be available sooner.  12 months may very well be enough time, but we shall see.

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 02:27PM | 0 recs
I'm confused

Third, I reject your assumption that there is nothing and won't be anything to impeach on.  When you say "no Dem running for Pres would even consider voting yes," you're assuming impeachment will only be a political exercise, just like 1998.  That's absurd

Never said that.  Never.  In fact, grounds and more exist to impeach.

It's still insanely stupid.  Sorry.  That's the hard truth.  I am interested in lots of things, and revenge is not one.  I don't care about all the crap about "protecting the constitution."  It's all just sound and fury.

"Protecting the constitution" will happen when Nancy Pelosi runs the house properly, and the American people see that Dems can be trusted to do things properly.  If we follow this idiocy of impeachment, we're out on our ears in 2 years, and it will be 6-10 more years as the out party.  

Were you around during Nixon's impeachment/Watergate hearings?  NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED.  That's what is meant by "sucking away the oxygen".  

by dataguy 2006-12-07 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm confused

dataguy said:
I don't care about all the crap about "protecting the constitution."  It's all just sound and fury.

And I think this is one of the fundamental disagreements, because here you and I do plainly disagree.  I do care about protecting the Constitution.  It's not sound and fury to me- I believe there will be very real and serious consequences if we codify/condone the Presidential power to break the law.

I am genuinely frightened of a government that has the power to break its own laws with impunity, and we have an opportunity to at least oppose it and perhaps punish those who would attempt to give the government that power.

Goodnight all.

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 02:52PM | 0 recs
So you want President Cheney?

That's what a successful impeachment would give you.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: So you want President Cheney?

President Cheney, with a Congress that knows how to enforce the separation of powers, and has been willing to do it by removing a sitting president who violates them?

Deal.

I'll take two.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: So you want President Cheney?

You're changing the subject.  Get back to what I think is the fundamental disagreement, at least between dataguy and myself.

dataguy believes all the Constitution and its principles are really just sound and fury, and protecting those principles is crap.

I disagree.  I believe there are very real and dangerous consequences to allowing our government to break its own laws.  In fact, I believe the legitimacy of the government itself is gone when it deems itself above the law.

What do you think about protecting the Constitution and the Rule of Law, Phoenix Woman?  Is it just a bunch of crap, or is it worth fighting for?

by cfaller96 2006-12-08 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm confused

What about the other points I made, dataguy?  For instance, waiting until after investigations to decide about impeachment?  Are you opposed to that?

Why must we make this decision now?

by cfaller96 2006-12-08 08:18AM | 0 recs
Would've been tough for Rosa Parks

to get to the back of the bus, too.

It's really hard work to hold Bush accountable for the lies that killed 3,000 of our soldiers and undermined our National Security. It's HARD WORK I tell ya. Well, if you don't have the desire to do what needs to be done, for moral and Constitutional reasons, then at least don't get in the way of those of us who do want justice for our killed soldiers.

Bush has done a Pearl Harbor on our own soldiers. I will persue justice regardless of whether it is calculated to be feasable, and regardless of whether if helps or hurts certain political parties.

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Would've been tough for Rosa Parks

DUh, I just realized that Parks wanted to be at the FRONT. Oooops.

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Watergate

Um, there is vastly more evidence to be uncovered, and vastly more people to testify under oath--very damningly and convincingly--now, than was the case during Watergate. The problem now is not lack of evidence or testifiers, but of getting to them in a timely manner. BushCo will fight tooth and nail on procedural grounds to delay this, as this is their best chance of preventing impeachment. But if congress can get at enough of both soon enough, then it will likely make an airtight case for impeachment. And the sheer number of crimes, and consequently of evidence and people involved--not to mention BushCo's incredible incompetence--works in our favor this time.

But for now let's just let the investigations and hearings proceed and see where they lead. Any talk of whether or not to impeach now is entirely premature. Right now it's not a question of whether to impeach, but whether to impeach if evidence emerges that warrants it. And it's simply too soon to tell if that will happen. I happen to believe that it will happen, and that impeachment will then not only be both constitutionally, morally and practically warranted, but essential, not to mention politically smart--whether or not it will actually succeed.

by kovie 2006-12-07 01:51PM | 0 recs
Impeachment is a National Security Priority

Bush deliberately lied to start a botched war, while at the same time letting war profiteers boost their profits at the expense of our soldiers lives.

If you do not do your moral and Constitutional duty to remove such a president from office, you set the precedent that it is simply OK to ruin America's National Security with a Botched-War-Based-On-Lies, as long as you can fool enough people for a couple years.

Fuck that.

I am an American first. If persuing justice, having accountability, and setting the long-term standards for how we get into war are inconvenient for the Democratic party, then FUCK the Democratic party. I am an American FIRST.

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Impeachment is a National Security Priority

Amen, brother.  We spent the last few years railing against Republicans for putting their Party ahead of the country, and now it appears Bowers and others want to do the same damn thing...

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 12:47PM | 0 recs
Arguments against impeachment generally

boil down to "It possibly could look bad for Democrats."

I am not yet a Democrat, even though I worked my ass off to get them elected this cycle. Prior to this, I never even voted in a midterm before. I did all that, because the investigations that need/must be done will undoutedly uncover Impeachable offenses. I hate the Republican party because they put party above country and I reject that. I hope I don't see Democrats do the same thing.

I am actually holding out on registering as a Democrat based on Impeachment. If Dems do what needs to be done for the country (Impeach) then I will proudly register Democrat, and not before then.

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 01:03PM | 0 recs
Here's the deal

Arguments can be made for either side, but very few people look at either side.  This is especially true of the pro-impeachment folk, who seem to think that anyone who questions the wisdom of trying to impeach Bush is some sort of GOP tool or plant.  (See the number of people here who are all ready now to spit on Chris Bowers and turn their backs forever on MyDD because he exercised some common sense.)

My opinion is largely that Kos and Chris are right, and that a full-bore impeachment drive by the Democratic Congress would wind up stalling out the rest of the Democratic agenda -- which is already being sabotaged by the outgoing GOP Congress' refusal to work on any legislation before adjourning, thus guaranteeing a HUGE legislative backlog for Reid and Pelosi when Congress reconvenes next month.

People forget that impeachments take a LONG TIME and pretty much bring Congress to a halt.  Bush's term will have expired before he could be removed by impeachment -- so how does this "punish" him or show that we are "serious" about accountability?  Even with dropping everything else on their agenda, the GOP Congress during Clinton's second term still took two years to get to the point where a vote could be held in the Senate -- and Clinton was acquitted.  

Furthermore, let's assume for the sake of argument that by a miracle, the impeachment process whipped through both Houses of Congress and that the Senate voted to convict and remove Bush before January of 2009.  All that does is give us President Cheney.  Do you really want that?  

Hint to the wise:  If you must impeach someone, impeach Cheney instead of Bush.  It'd be much, MUCH easier to pull off.  Better yet, bring criminal or civil charges against him, or civil charges against Bush -- that would be even easier to do, and it would free up the Democrats in Congress to actually do the people's business, like going through the United States Code and undoing all the land mines BushCo's embedded therein.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:10PM | 0 recs
No, here's the deal

Cheney would be easier to Impeach. They can and should both be Impeached for the same crimes. People who look at Impeachment from the political angle never seem to acnowledge how even someone like Cheney would have to, at a minimum, resign after taking office due to Bush getting Impeached for things that Cheney is even more guilty of. So if we did Impeach Bush for x, Y, Z, then Cheney comes into office being guilty of 2X, 2Y and 2Z, it boggles my mind how anyone thinks he would remain in office. He'd have an approval rating in the single digits that would make Nixon look good.

Your counter argument about impeachment is short sighted in (at least) one major respect. This isn't JUST about Bush and the next 2 years. Would you agree with me that in the future (any time after Bush leaves office) there will be Presidents who will be willing to do the same sort of things (abuse the Constitution, start war based on lies) and they will be much more likely to get away with it, if the role model they have is Idiot Bush who got away with it.

Right now there is no money to pay for the Democratic agenda, as good as that agenda may be. In the future, should we take your 'practical' approach, we will be more likely to get lied into another war, which will suck funds out of implementing your favored agenda.

Your course of action will likely leave us in a situation where we get lied into another war, because we didn't take care of it this time, when it was/is easy to point out how we were lied into the war by the very president who is still in office. Sooner or later an American Hitler will come along. If Bush was smarter or had more charisma, he would be it. We can set the record for all future Presidents that we don't tolerate getting lied into war. Why are you willing to tolerate getting lied into war, and let our children and grandchildren be victims of Bush2 and Bush3. I wish the anti-Impeachment folks realized that this isn't only about a short term punishment of Bush.

by bejammin075 2006-12-08 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Impeachment is a National Security Priority
I fall you want to do is peruse things, that's you business. But I'd like to get some things done, too. I don't want all of this work to just be so we can persue things that are not going to happen.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 12:59PM | 0 recs
It will happen, you don't realize it yet.

[note - I generally love this blog - just strongly disagree with your take on this particular issue].

I think you don't have the correct prediction of how things can and will unfold with the new Democratic majority. John Conyers or somebody else will do investigations and hearings about how we got into war (deliberate, bald-faced lies). When more of the public understands that, Impeachment will not be some whacked out desire of the fringe. Everything that is bad about Iraq (dead Americans, weaker National Security) is that way because the President LIED. When a sufficient number of Americans realize that, we win. To win, we must inform the un-informed Americans, by whatever means necessary.

Impeachment isn't your #1 goal, but it is mine. Impeachment may seem improbable to you now, but it seems much more probable to me because the probability of it happening is irrelevant to me. Over time, you will see that I am right.

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: It will happen, you don't realize it yet.
No, impeachment is not my #1 goal. I didn't get into this just to impeach Bush and Cheney. I don't want to have done all of this work, and then not made anyone's life any better. It would be hard to live with myself if I did that, and it would be hard to feel like everything else I did over the past four years was wasted. I did all of this to help people. And I honestly beleived that if we rushed headlong into imepachment proceddings, then all of work would have been wasted, and we won't be able to help anyone.

I am certianly ready to help spread the word on investigations, but please remember the horrible lies that huge precetnages of the country sitll beleive--like Saddma being behind 9/11. Informing people takes a long time, and I don't expect the invesitgations to immediately turn public opinion on impeachment.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 02:09PM | 0 recs
Impeachment would be a hollow, empty victory

I would much prefer to do SOMETHING about health care to impeach Bush.

I want something to happen about college costs.

I want NCLB to be fixed, now, and impeachment would really muck that up.

I have many ideas about what will happen in the next 2 years.  If impeachment comes up, NONE will occur.  I am 55 and am getting tired of all this shit.  I want action.  Impeachment is not action.  Impeachment is just revenge, and vendettas, and more meaningless shit and posturing.  It is not PUBLIC POLICY.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Impeachment would be a hollow, empty victory

Several years from now, when another president contemplates taking the country to war based on lies, he/she can look back at this time period and say, that idiot Bush lied right to their faces, lots of people knew it and could even prove it, yet idiot Bush got away with it. Presidents of the future will be smarter and harder to catch than Bush.

You should support Impeachment. It will help Americans of the future avoid war based on lies. Impeachment IS action, and it will really help people.

If you let Bush go, you are setting up our grandchildren to fight another war based on lies. But maybe the ones who live will pay less for college?

by bejammin075 2006-12-07 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Impeachment is a National Security Priority

Chris Bowers said:
If all you want to do is peruse things, that's your business. But I'd like to get some things done, too.

First of all, as a political strategist, you should not be showing prospective activists the back of your hand.  All customers want to browse before they buy.  One of the problems the Democratic Party has had in the past is that they've shown no commitment to core principles in the face of adversity- in other words, when the going gets tough, Dems chuck everything overboard in order to "get an edge" in the next election.  And you're doing it again.

But let's move on.  What do those "things" matter Chris, if we officially sanction criminal behavior by the Executive?  If we officially condone the President's ability to break the law, then what does it matter what laws we get passed?

Why don't you see that you're proposing an obvious Faustian bargain?

And, while you're responding, please answer these simple questions:

1.  When would you favor impeachment?  When is Executive abuse too much, even for you?

2.  How can you ensure accountability without punishment?

3.  How can you deter future Presidential abuse when politicians know that not even this guy was impeached?

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 01:27PM | 0 recs
Wow

First of all, as a political strategist, you should not be showing prospective activists the back of your hand.

Please, show us EXACTLY where Chris showed ANYONE the "back of his hand."

Me, I have showed people the back of my hand, because I have no respect for the arguments or rationality or overall sense of you pro-impeachment types. But Chris is perfectly nice and reasonable.

Unless of course you find "reasoned discourse" to actually be the "back of his hand"?

by dataguy 2006-12-07 01:31PM | 0 recs
A Poor Choice Of Words, But He Has A Point

Part of what motivates impeachment is a commitment to principles.  Fairly basic ones.

The "forget about it, let's get something done" attitude is a perennial problem for the Dems, and can be traced back as far as Iran-Contra, when that attitude resulted in a hurried, botched, and pre-determined investigation (impeachment was declared "off the table" before it even began).

If it's different this time, we at least deserve a reasoned debate about why this should be so.

Frankly, I've already said that it is different in one very fundamental way--it's much, much worse, so much so that impeachment seems terribly inadequate to address the spread of lawlessness and general contempt for the rule of law.  So I'm not an ardent impeachment advocate, because I think it's insufficient.  I do, however, think it needs to be talked about as a matter of principle.

If Dems in Congress would say, "Of course there were impeachable offenses committed, but right now we have to focus on fixing the damage, Bush will be gone soon enough anyway," that would send a pretty good message, so far as I'm concerned.  Or if Dems were to pass a resolution of censure, that, too, could send a pretty good message.  But avoiding the whole issue this way is merely a renewed invitation--as with Iran/Contra--for the Reps to be even more lawless (hard to imagine, I know) the next chance they get.  Plus, it reinforces the meme that Dems just don't stand for anything at all.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-12-07 01:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Well, when Chris said this:
If all you want to do is peruse things, that's your business. But I'd like to get some things done, too.

What I heard was this:
Your hedging over the principle of impeachment is merely "perusal" in my mind.  And I think that's antithetical to "getting things done."

Here is a guy that, according to him, "worked his ass off" to get Dems a majority in the midterms, and now he wants to see some results of that Dem majority, or else he might just stay as a registered independent.  Chris explains to him that "perusing" won't "get things done."

Maybe that's not the back of his hand, but it's certainly not openminded and encouraging.

You call what he's doing "perusing?"  If so, then you don't get what drove us all to the polls to begin with.  It's not 1998, and we're not some knuckle-dragging thugs.  We would like some accountability, please, and you cannot have accountability without punishment.

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow
That was a typo, based off of "pusuing."

And if you haven't gotten why I haven't responded to your questions yet, it is because you, not me, were a real jerk in your first comment on this thread. I was under the impressiont hat you thought I was a hypocrite, and what I think is shit, and that you didn't care what I did or wrote from now on. And then you want me to respond to your questions? I don't think so.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-07 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow

Sorry, Chris, but I just don't see how supporting a filibuster for Alito on principle is any different than being open to impeachment on principle.  If you support a principle, then you support it even when you don't have the votes.  Otherwise, how can anyone trust you when you're expected to fight for those principles?

I don't see it any other way- it's hypocritical to deride Lieberman for not supporting a filibuster (his explanation:  we didn't have the votes and he was going to be confirmed anyway), but then turning around and opposing impeachment (your explanation:  we don't have the votes and he's going to get away with it anyway).  In both situations, in my mind, standing on principle is an opportunity to show the American public that Dems stand for more than just getting votes, and I thought that's what you and Kos talked about during the Alito hearings.

Obviously, to some, filibustering an anti-choice Supreme Court justice is far more important than preserving the rule of law.  To me, though, they're both important, and both deserve principled fights, even in the face of a dearth of votes or a hostile media.

I'm sorry you so easily took offense to my stance, but I believe my point is valid.  You're under no obligation to answer my questions, of course, it's your blog.  I (and perhaps others) would genuinely like answers, however, but they don't have to be from you- any anti-impeacher can take a shot at them.

But they don't.  I wonder why?

by cfaller96 2006-12-07 02:45PM | 0 recs
Nixon, Clinton impeachments took two years each...

...and Bush, unlike Nixon, won't let the impeachment process pressure him into resigning.  

By the time impeachment comes up for a vote in the Senate, it will be January of 2009.  And Bush will be leaving office anyway, so it's not going to provide justice or accountability (or punishment) of any sort.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: On Just Not Mentioning It

I was very upset when Conyers and pelosi said "Impeachment was off the table."  However, upon reflection, I think I understand their motivations.  I just wish Pelosi/Conyers had just said NOTHING.  Deflect the question.

The fact is, jumping for impeachment is putting the horse before the cart. Impeachment is the end result of investigations.  By stating out front, "hell yeah we're gonna impeach that sumbitch" investigations would have immediately been undermined as partisan.

Impeachment has to come from a groundswell, conditional on investigation: it really can't be a partisan circus like Clinton.  And so far, that swell isn't there.  There's still time, let's see what happens.

by brendan 2006-12-07 01:53PM | 0 recs
If you MUST impeach, impeach Cheney

That'd be much more likely to work.  

All impeaching Bush would do, on the other hand, is GIVE us President Cheney.  And we don't want that.  At least, not if you're sane.

Even better yet:  Hit Bush and/or Cheney with civil suits.  That way, the Democratic Congress can work on removing the booby traps the GOP Congress has left for them, and the revenge/punishment/closure/etc. that is so desired by many will take place without causing all other legislative business to come to a grinding halt.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:27PM | 0 recs
If you favor impeachment:

Here is a little test to see about impeachment.

1) Find 10 people who are Democrats.

2) Pitch impeachment to them.

3) Report back on their response.  Remember, honesty is the best policy.

If you find more than 3 in 10 favoring impeachment, I will be shocked.  

And be fair: Ask in a neutral manner.

by dataguy 2006-12-07 02:53PM | 0 recs
Betcha dollars to donuts...

...that none of the pro-impeachers will do this.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Betcha dollars to donuts...

Gimme your dollars.

I've been doing it for months on end.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 04:57AM | 0 recs
OK, what is your result?

I have done this a couple times. Each time I do it, to usually quite committed Dems, they look at me like I am completely insane.  

There is less than 25 % support for this.  And, no, I don't believe the single poll which gets to 51 %.  

I think there's about 30 % support for this, and the great middle of this country is ABSOLUTELY uninterested in this Crusade.

by dataguy 2006-12-08 05:10AM | 0 recs
Re: OK, what is your result?

Straight ask runs about 30%.

Actual discussion and letting them vet their alternatives usually nets above 50%, with the rest unable to articulate exactly why they don't want to do it, and unable to respond to most of the reasons for it, but sure they're right nonetheless.

About what you'd expect, actually.

And that's without the benefit of televised hearings, newspaper coverage of them, etc.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 05:29AM | 0 recs
On Impeachment

Well, obviously political expediency is the most important thing to most Democrats. What a country. Exactly why did we have an election last month?

by mdf1960 2006-12-07 03:57PM | 0 recs
Guess what the GOP's doing right now

Nothing.

Wanna know why?

Because they want to ensure that the Democrats have their hands so full with overdue legislation (such as the FY07 budget bills -- which should have been signed months ago) that they don't have time to hold hearings, which is where the REAL oversight and accountability (and punishment) will be happening.

Want to ensure that Henry Waxman doesn't have the time to hold hearings on Halliburton?  Force him to drop everything else he's doing to go on the Impeachment Snipe Hunt.

Oh, and since impeachments take over a year to do, be aware that Bush will have likely left office on his own before it comes up for a vote in the Senate -- and even if by some miracle it was voted on before he could leave office normally, all it would do is give us President Cheney.  Some "punishment".

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:33PM | 0 recs
The Children's Crusade

I like your term "snipe hunt".  My term is "The Children's Crusade" The pro-impeachment types have no idea HOW they will do it, they can't give a single name WHO supports it, they can't say HOW LONG it will take, they have no plan, no tactics, no strategy.  Yet, off they go to save Jerusalem....

It's completely insane.  

by dataguy 2006-12-08 05:06AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Those in favor of impeachment really need to take a step back from righteous anger and think about this. Bush has already screwed up the world as much as he possibly can, and creating a big expensive trial to get revenge over that won't change everything being shot to hell. In the months it would take to conduct an impeachment proceeding, thousands of people will die in Iraq. And who knows how many people here will suffer from no health care, job insecurity, you name it, while our legislative branch was focused solely on the past.

I'm into politics because I think it can be an amazing tool with which to do good. That's why I really abhor the Bush admin, but that's also why I don't want us to just focus on them.

by Mullibok 2006-12-07 04:27PM | 0 recs
&quot;But we don't want 'revenge'!!!&quot;

That's what many of the pro-impeachers keep saying over and over again, probably because they don't want to come off looking like bloodthirsty revenge junkies or some such.

But the thing is, the other reasons they give in the place of revenge just aren't plausible.  Let's look at them:

"We have to set an example for future presidents/keep future presidents from running amok/etc."  In other words, we have to use impeachment to show that Bush will suffer in some way for his crimes.  Except that he won't.  

The practical effect of impeachment against Bush will be to tie up Congress for the next two years: This not only doesn't punish Bush, it's exactly what he wants to see happen.  By the time impeachment comes up for a vote in the Senate, it'll be January of 2009 and Bush will be leaving office normally, secure in the knowledge that the Democrats wasted two years on a doomed effort that, had it actually succeeded, would have just made Dick Cheney our new president.

Want to see Congress punish Bush and Cheney?  Then let them hold hearings (which will result in criminal charges MUCH more painful to Bush/Cheney than impeachment could ever be) and restore the various oversight committees that the Republicans killed when they took over in 1994.  That's EXACTLY what the Democrats are going to be doing.  And it will be a lot more efficaceous than impeachment.

If that's not good enough, then consider filing civil suits against Bush and Cheney.  That's what Paula Jones did against Clinton; even though her case was eventually dismissed before it could come to trial, it sucked up a ton of Clinton's time and energy.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: &quot;But we don't want 'revenge'!!!&quot;

Yeah, it's either that we don't want to "come off looking like bloodthirsty revenge junkies," or we're actually telling you what our position is in an honest fashion.

The horror!

You can't even keep the argument up as a lark. You lapse right back into the revenge motive immediately, asserting that impeachment should "show that Bush will suffer in some way."

The repetition of the idea of civil suits I just attribute to a bad guess, and not yet having anyone tell you what the current state of the law is.

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 05:01AM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

I too was opposed to impeachment, until I read northwoods1's dairy on kos.  She or he makes some very thought-provoking points.  The bottom line is that it would be completely irresponsible for the Dems not to impeach.

by Fascist fighter 2006-12-07 04:41PM | 0 recs
Revenge?

I have just read through all the comments on this post and I find it appalling how insulting some of the comments are. Please, please make substantive arguments; please don't hurl insults -- it just degrades the whole discussion.

I find it useful to consider the arguments of both sides -- both principle and strategy are important and it is useful to consider them both to figure out what we should do.

One thing that really frustrates me in reading through all these posts, however, is that many of the people opposed to impeachment say that those who favor impeachment are doing so to get "revenge". This whole "revenge" meme sounds to me like a Republican talking-point. I don't want revenge, I want to ensure the government runs according to the Constitution and to ensure that future Presidents can't run amok. I can't imagine any thoughtful, progressive person would want impeachment out of revenge -- that's what unprincipled Republicans do.

So please cut out all the talk about "revenge" and "retribution."

by RandomNonviolence 2006-12-07 06:48PM | 0 recs
Punishment = Revenge, and this won't punish Bush

You said that you "don't want revenge" but "want to ensure the government runs according to the Constitution and to ensure that future Presidents can't run amok."

Well now.  How, exactly, would impeachment achieve either goal?  

Impeachment doesn't do anything to future presidents, and it doesn't do anything to Bush -- it can't do anything to punish him, for the simple reason that he'll be out of office naturally before it could punish him.

Here's the deal: A Bush impeachment would not run its course by the time Bush left office in January of 2009, and even if we could pull off the fastest impeachment ever, all it would do is make Dick Cheney the president in name as well as in fact.  Is that what you want?  Didn't think so.

If we want to keep future presidents from running amok, a better way to do that would be to take away their signing statements.  But all impeachment would do, even if "successful" (that is, even if it gave us President Cheney), is make certain people feel good.  At the expense of everything else on the national agenda.

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-07 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: On Impeachment

Good to know that justice for 700K deaths and an illegal war based on lies are less important than almost anything else Congress could get up to.

Lord save us from the "reasonable" people and their willingness to forgive anything if it'd be too much trouble to enforce accountability.

by Ian Welsh 2006-12-07 10:22PM | 0 recs
Would it do any good?

One thing that many if not most of the pro-impeachment people keep saying is that it's not about revenge or punishment or whatever, but about using impeachment to try to make sure no future president follows Bush's example. (Though many pro-impeachers are openly saying that they DO want to see him punished -- at least one person last night has mentioned hanging as a punishment for Bush.)

Actually, limiting the powers of signing statements (or eliminating them altogether) would be a much more effective way to try to rein in the executive branch; impeachment wouldn't do anything except show future presidents, once again, that the way to tie up a Congress controlled by the opposition party for years on end is to give them impeachment fever.  Oh, and it wouldn't punish Bush one iota, either.  (More after the jump.)

As Chris, Kos, and pretty much anyone else who knows anything about Congressional workings knows, a full-bore impeachment drive by the Democratic Congress would wind up stalling out the rest of the Democratic agenda -- which is already being sabotaged by the outgoing GOP Congress' refusal to work on any legislation before adjourning, thus guaranteeing a HUGE legislative backlog for Reid and Pelosi when Congress reconvenes next month.

People forget that impeachments take a LONG TIME and pretty much bring Congress to a halt.  Bush's term will have expired before he could be removed by impeachment -- so how does this "punish" him or show that we are "serious" about accountability?  Even with dropping everything else on their agenda, the GOP Congress during Clinton's second term still took two years to get to the point where a vote could be held in the Senate -- and Clinton was acquitted.  

Furthermore, let's assume for the sake of argument that by a miracle, the impeachment process whipped through both Houses of Congress AND that the Senate voted to convict and remove Bush before January of 2009. All that does is give us President Cheney.  Do you really want that?  I sure don't.

Hint to the wise:  If you must impeach someone, impeach Cheney instead of Bush.  It'd be much, MUCH easier to pull off.  Better yet, bring criminal or civil charges against him, or civil charges against Bush -- that would be even easier to do, and it would free up the Democrats in Congress to actually do the people's business, like going through the United States Code and undoing all the land mines BushCo's embedded therein.

And now I'll sit back and wait for the inevitable accusations of selling out, whoredom, cowardice, being a GOP plant, and whatever else can be dreamed up to be thrown my way.  

by Phoenix Woman 2006-12-08 04:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Would it do any good?

Why resort to "selling out, whoredom, cowardice, being a GOP plant" or anything else, when "you don't actually know all that much about what you're saying, and here's why" will do?

by Kagro X 2006-12-08 05:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Would it do any good?

What I said is that thoughtful, progressive people do not want revenge. As many thoughtful, progressive people have written in this thread, they want to uphold the principle of a government governed by Constitution-based law and when power seems to trump law, to stop the lawlessness using the tools available. I agree with this sentiment, but I'm also open to strategic considerations.

Considering the wisdom offered in the comments made on this thread, I think the best scenario is to hold investigative hearings. If these hearings reveal high crimes and misdemeanors carried out by both Bush and Cheney (as it is likely to), then Congress could impeach them both. If this proceeds quickly, then it is possible, they would both be removed/resign by January 2008.

I'm not sure why impeachment necessarily takes a long time and brings Congress to a halt. The Clinton impeachment had little substance, so it was drawn out looking for substance. But much of the research on Bush/Cheney crimes is already known, it just needs to be presented to the American people. And presenting this to the American people would be very educational, just as the Clarence Thomas hearings and the Watergate hearings were -- they were useful in shifting the thinking of Americans and making it easier for progressive Democrats to pass sweeping legislation. So it wouldn't be a complete waste of time, even if it did not result in the removal of Bush/Cheney.

If the hearings bog down with lots of Republican/media noise, then it might not make sense to try to impeach Bush/Cheney. I think we'll just have to see. But I see no reason to take impeachment off the table at this point. Let's take the first step and see where it leads. The hearings are valuable just so Americans can learn what happened and how Bush/Cheney have stolen our country.

By the way, I don't think you are a GOP plant. But I think we should view with suspicion anyone who hurls insults and otherwise distracts us from a rational debate based on substance. Debate leads us to greater insight and unified action whereas insults, emotional appeals to hang Bush, etc. just inflame people, degrade the discussion, and drive people away. In this case, insults and infammatory comments are not useful in bringing about progressive change.

by RandomNonviolence 2006-12-08 06:02AM | 0 recs
How about a compromise?

Phoenix Woman said:
As Chris, Kos, and pretty much anyone else who knows anything about Congressional workings knows, a full-bore impeachment drive by the Democratic Congress would wind up stalling out the rest of the Democratic agenda

Without granting your premise, I think you mean it would wind up stalling the rest of the Democratic agenda for 2007.  The Democratic agenda will take longer than a year to implement, so the idea that we must dump everything to relentlessly pursue "the Democratic agenda" is in my opinion quite shortsighted.

Perhaps others disagree, but I believe the Progressive Agenda is strengthened when Democrats show principles, not just talk about being principled.  I vaguely remember someone in the Netroots (Bowers? Stoller?) heckling Barack Obama because the Senator spoke about how being principled can help win elections.  I wish I could find that post, because it eloquently pointed out that being principled is more important to voters (and consequently, to the Democratic agenda) than talking about being principled.  Ultimately, actions convey to voters what the Party's values are, not words or supersmart strategies.

Anti-impeachers seem to obsess on the impracticality and unlikelihood of success of an impeachment battle, and fret about how the (short-term) agenda will be damaged with an impeachment fight.  First, nobody knows how an impeachment battle would turn out.  Nobody.  We can't see the future with certainty.

Nobody knows for sure how it would turn out, and to use a sports metaphor, that's why they play the games.  Anti-impeachers want to forfeit the game before we've even taken the field, and fret about dirtying their uniforms or injuring their players.  Sure, you may protect your team from harm and embarrassment by not playing a game you're convinced you'll lose, but really, what fan wants to root for a team that forfeits all its tough games?

I've seen a lot of scorn thrown at those of us who aren't willing to give up on impeachment.  I've seen a lot of commenters here counter our "Rule of Law is important" arguments with "it's never going to happen."  That's essentially countering principles and concepts with practicality.

It's a seductive argument, but think for a moment what you're doing to the Democratic Party long term- you're telling American voters that if an impeachment fight looks to be difficult (and honestly, what impeachment fight would be easy?), then Democrats are not interested in fighting it.  You're telling voters that in the face of long odds and a tough fight, Dems will fold, no matter what's at stake.  You're telling voters that there are no lines in the sand for Democrats- they'll give it all away to get an edge in the next election.

I don't understand how showing the American people you're unwilling to fight for a principle is politically wise for any agenda in the long term.  I don't understand how giving up on a fight before it's even begun is going to woo voters- not only in 2008, but 2012, 2016, etc.  Voters will not get behind a party that is willing to chuck anything overboard if things get too hard.

Look, we're all in agreement about investigations (aren't we?), so why not just put this debate off until we know what we're dealing with?  Honestly, if investigations don't turn up anything worse than what we already know, I'll be the first to say 'the American people have already shown they don't care, so let's move on.'  As pissed off as I am about Presidential lawbreaking in principle, I understand the American people won't understand that problem unless they genuinely see egregious, real-word harm.  I accept that the American people have got more important things to worry about than what some politician did, and I'm ok with that.  But let's not draw conclusions before we have the data.

I'm not all that enthusiastic about an impeachment fight either, but I'm not willing to take it off the table, now, before we know anything.  Ultimately, I think investigations and the American people will demand impeachment, but I could be wrong.  By the same token, anti-impeachers who (perhaps) believe we won't find anything worse must also allow for the possibility that they could be wrong.

But it doesn't feel that way to me.  It feels like Kos, Bowers, and all the anti-impeachers want to end the discussion now, before the Democratic Congress has even begun- otherwise, why bring the subject up?  Making a decision (about impeachment) before you know all the facts seems unwise to me, but I'm willing to listen.

So, anti-impeachers, why not wait until after the investigations?  Can we all agree to put this off until then?  What say you all?

by cfaller96 2006-12-08 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: How about a compromise?

Perhaps others disagree, but I believe the Progressive Agenda is strengthened when Democrats show principles, not just talk about being principled.  

I always get annoyed when I read things like this. You see, everyone has principles.  We disagree on which principle is more important.  You seem to believe that the paramount principle is upholding....some part or another of the constitution.  

My principle is that "Democrats are elected to accomplish progressive legislation."  And, yes, I am willing to ignore a lot of crap that Bush has done.  That's because we can hobble him somewhat now, and we can use him.  Since you pro-impeachment types are blinded by revenge fantasies, you don't seem to be able to think of how Bush will HELP us.  He will - used right, Bush will be able to ensure a Democratic president, an expanded majority in the Senate, and a preserved majority in the House.

So, we disagree which principle is the principle principle, and throwing that "principle" crap in is merely an attempt on your part to gain the upper hand.  I will not agree that your side has principles, and my side does not.  I will agree that our definition of principle differs.  

I will also agree that OVERSIGHT, INVESTIGATIONS, and SUBPOENAS are the order of the day.  And, if, in the very very unlikely event that impeachable EVIDENCE is found, that we will gain by impeachment.  

I just don't believe it will happen.

by dataguy 2006-12-08 08:31AM | 0 recs
Holding off = blind ???

dataguy, I don't think holding off on an impeachment decision until after investigations means I'm "blinded by revenge fantasies."  Wingnuts over at Malkin and LGF can do that, but you should be better than that.

But you are right about one thing:  we fundamentally disagree on priorities and principles.  We both made that clear upthread- you believe protecting the Constitution is sound and fury, and I believe giving our government the power to violate the Constitution is dangerous and harmful.  I believe that if our Government is allowed to break the law, it doesn't matter if we pass supercool new great legislation, because it doesn't have to be adhered to.  Thus, in my book, the Rule of Law is more important than any specific Progressive laws.  And that's where we disagree.

But it's good that you agree with me and disagree with Bowers and Kos, because you're still open to impeachment if investigations turn up truly rotten stuff.  Kos and Bowers have made clear they want impeachment off the table, before investigations have begun.  I think that's wrong, and I'm glad you're with me.

by cfaller96 2006-12-08 09:31AM | 0 recs

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