Archive for June 13th, 2005

Why I’m Not Impeachy Keen

The Downing Street Memo/Minutes revelations and the various other damning documents originating from those loose-lipped Brits have a whole bunch of my liberal brethren talking giddily about impeachment, but I have to confess to considerably less enthusiasm. Not only do I consider it unlikely, but I actually think it could be counterproductive.

Firstly, while there are some tentative signs of principled Republican resistance to the Bush agenda and questioning of the war and the Bolton nomination, and even Social Security reform, it looks more like butt-covering than genuine opposition. When it’s come right down to it on votes like bankruptcy reform and confirming horrible, unqualified right-wing judges, they’ve been in perfect, bootlicking lockstep. If they’re not going to vote against Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, they’re sure as hell not going to vote to impeach Bush himself, enthralling a fantasy as it may be (I do have a caveat about that, which I’ll get to later).

Secondly, I have to ask the question, what does impeachment buy us, really? Yes, we all hate Bush, and I think we all agree that he’s the worst president of all time and want to see him humiliated and exposed for the criminal he is, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture here. Bush himself is not truly the problem, but only a symptom of the corruption and arrogance that has become the Republican core. What Democrats need to do is discredit and expose the entire Republican party and its media mouthpieces, allowing them to retake control of Congress and start fixing everything that’s been broken. They need to cast themselves as the party of grown-ups, who sometimes ask us to make sacrifices and take our medicine and do our homework so we stay healthy and smart and get good jobs.

Impeachment does nothing to advance this; in fact, it essentially absolves congressional Republicans of all responsibility, by allowing Bush to take the blame for everything that’s gone wrong, while portraying themselves as innocent dupes. Worse yet, unless there is overwhelming public demand for it (the only scenario in which I can see any realistic chance of a successful impeachment), the attempt would backfire badly and make Bush a heroic martyr of the Republican cause, unfairly attacked by small-minded liberal Democrats blinded by hate and vengeance. Just imagine the backlash against the Clinton circus, magnified by a Republican media avidly hyping the Bush-Under-Siege meme. And if there is overwhelming public demand for it, then the Republicans will see which way the wind is blowing and vote for impeachment, thus making themselves noble heroes who heavy-heartedly put country before party, thus inoculating themselves even more thoroughly from any accountability for Bush’s depredations.

And for what? What would impeachment buy us, beyond the I-told-you-so satisfaction? Even if we do manage to impeach Bush, that still leaves us with President Cheney, which is even worse (yes, I know he has zero charisma, but this has consistently been spun as a positive – proof of Cheney’s seriousness and steady competence). If we manage to impeach both of them, we end up with President Hastert, which is only a marginal improvement at best. Yes, it could potentially be President Pelosi, but the chances of Democrats retaking the house next year are slim, and I don’t think the pro-impeachment people are really looking to wait until 2007 anyway.

My gut feeling is that impeachment talk is premature, and maybe makes us look a little fanatical and crazy. We absolutely need to keep the story alive, and keep hammering away at the message that Bush is a sociopathic liar, but we need to focus more on ways to make the war an albatross around all the Republicans’ necks in 2006, not just the lame duck’s.

7 comments June 13th, 2005 at 01:30pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Downing Street Memo,Impeachment,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans

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