Asked whether he was aware that his National Security Council Principals Committee discussed and approved torturing human beings that we’re being held at the U.S. government’s mercy, our President responded:
“Well, we started to connect the dots in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. “And yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”
To be more specific about what Bush knew about and approved:
As first reported by ABC News Wednesday, the most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA. (…)
These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC news.
No one with any credibility on human rights thinks that waterboarding is legal under U.S. or international law. And waterboarding is not the only violation of law committed by our government and approved by the president. A look at the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture clearly demonstrates that our country is guilty of numerous violations.
Unfortunately, those with credibility on human rights are not the ones controlling our national narrative. Instead it’s the shallow corporate-owned Heathers of the media and the cowardly (if not outright complicit) Democrats in Congress.
The reputation of our nation has been seriously damaged, and ignoring the damage will only exacerbate the problem. Unfortunately, neither the media nor the Congress appear capable of coming to terms with what was done in our name and doing anything about it. The ACLU is calling for a Special Prosecutor, but it is very unlikely that the Bush administration will willingly authorize someone to investigate them for serious felonies that they have already confessed. Any talk of impeachment must account for the seriously depressing prospect that the Republican Party will act collectively as official apologists for torture and thereby, by failing to convict, establish the unhealthy precedent that the most serious violations of human rights are not worthy of removal from office. Compounding the problem is that a failure to attempt to impeach will establish the same precedent.
It is hard to believe that just ten years ago this nation impeached a president for lying about his sex life in a civil deposition in a case that was eventually tossed for lack of merit. Ten years ago the media could not grant enough coverage to the crimes of the president, but now even confessed felonies are covered over in favor of silly campaign coverage.
(…) We, as a nation, need to do something about this. It is a most difficult thing to come to terms with. There is a strong impulse to set this aside and write it off as an overreaction to the national trauma of 9/11. We see the same instinct in how so many want to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications carriers that were ‘only doing their patriotic duty’ when they allowed the government to violate our 4th Amendment rights and spy on us without judicial warrants. In this case, government officials were ‘only trying to keep us safe’. That’s their defense, but it is not an adequate defense. And it does nothing to justify Bush’s recent veto of a bill banning torture.
Bush and Cheney will be leaving office in nine months, and the easiest thing to do is to just run out the clock. But that isn’t the right thing to do. And it will not absolve us of our responsibility to punish injustice and vindicate our nation’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law. Just look at how the world views us. Are we to let this stand?
And, yet, what can we do? With Clinton and Obama distracted by the primaries and the domestic press in the bag and with Republican complicity and administration obstruction, there seems to be no leadership and no path to a solution.
That leaves the responsibility on citizen activists…people like you and me. If the media won’t cover it, we will. And we will hope that shame compels the media to recognize our shame and agony, and our commitment to our country and its reputation in the world.
Even with a closely fought primary going on, this should be the story of the year, if not the story of the century: The President Of The United States has admitted to approving war crimes. Impeachment is the very least that Congress should do; criminal prosecution seems far more appropriate (although perhaps not legally feasible for Dubya until he leaves office).
I doubt that Congress will do anything more than hold ineffectual hearings that get stonewalled, so does anyone (i.e., torture victims or their families) have standing to prosecute the evildoers, including Dubya in 2009? That will probably be the only possible way to obtain justice, and for this country to finally begin redeeming itself.
As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.
Of course, there seems to be little bipartisan support for impeachment. The political scene is marked by narrow and sometimes superficial partisanship, especially among Republicans, and a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians. So the chances of a bipartisan impeachment and conviction are not promising.
Bush and Cheney are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly “high crimes and misdemeanors,” to use the constitutional standard.
From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team’s assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged — perhaps even by a congressional investigation.
In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis… and laid waste their country….
All of this has been done without the declaration of war from Congress that the Constitution clearly requires, in defiance of the U.N. Charter and in violation of international law. This reckless disregard for life and property, as well as constitutional law, has been accompanied by the abuse of prisoners, including systematic torture, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
I have not been heavily involved in singing the praises of the Nixon administration. But the case for impeaching Bush and Cheney is far stronger than was the case against Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew after the 1972 election. The nation would be much more secure and productive under a Nixon presidency than with Bush. Indeed, has any administration in our national history been so damaging as the Bush-Cheney era?
How could a once-admired, great nation fall into such a quagmire of killing, immorality and lawlessness?
It happened in part because the Bush-Cheney team repeatedly deceived Congress, the press and the public into believing that Saddam Hussein had nuclear arms and other horrifying banned weapons that were an “imminent threat” to the United States. The administration also led the public to believe that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks — another blatant falsehood….Although the president was advised by the intelligence agencies last August that Iran had no program to develop nuclear weapons, he continued to lie to the country and the world. This is the same strategy of deception that brought us into war in the Arabian Desert and could lead us into an unjustified invasion of Iran. I can say with some professional knowledge and experience that if Bush invades yet another Muslim oil state, it would mark the end of U.S. influence in the crucial Middle East for decades.
Ironically, while Bush and Cheney made counterterrorism the battle cry of their administration, their policies — especially the war in Iraq — have increased the terrorist threat and reduced the security of the United States….
Today, after five years of clumsy, mistaken policies and U.S. military occupation, Iraq has become a breeding ground of terrorism and bloody civil strife. It is no secret that former president Bush, his secretary of state, James A. Baker III, and his national security adviser, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, all opposed the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
In addition to the shocking breakdown of presidential legal and moral responsibility, there is the scandalous neglect and mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. The veteran CNN commentator Jack Cafferty condenses it to a sentence: “I have never ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans.” Any impeachment proceeding must include a careful and critical look at the collapse of presidential leadership in response to perhaps the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
Impeachment is unlikely, of course. But we must still urge Congress to act. Impeachment, quite simply, is the procedure written into the Constitution to deal with presidents who violate the Constitution and the laws of the land. It is also a way to signal to the American people and the world that some of us feel strongly enough about the present drift of our country to support the impeachment of the false prophets who have led us astray. This, I believe, is the rightful course for an American patriot.
As former representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who played a key role in the Nixon impeachment proceedings, wrote two years ago, “it wasn’t until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country’s laws — that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate. . . . A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law — and repeatedly violates the law — thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors.”
I figure when George McGovern says Bush/Cheney are more deserving of impeachment than Nixon/Agnew, that’s gotta mean something.
If impeachment was a legal/criminal proceeding rather than a political one, Bush and Cheney would have been convicted and ejected by now.
1 commentJanuary 6th, 2008 at 03:06pmPosted by Eli
These three congressmen have figured out how not to be seen…
Apparently Democratic congressmen and House Judiciary Committee members Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have shopped this op-ed around to major papers like the Washington Post and the New York Times without any takers (h/t dirk). They’re calling for Cheney’s impeachment, which is kind of a big deal:
On November 7, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As Members of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important hearings should begin.
The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.
I think this is the money quote, however:
Some of us were in Congress during the impeachment hearings of President Clinton. We spent a year and a half listening to testimony about President Clinton’s personal relations. This must not be the model for impeachment inquires. A Democratic Congress can show that it takes its constitutional authority seriously and hold a sober investigation, which will stand in stark contrast to the kangaroo court convened by Republicans for President Clinton. In fact, the worst legacy of the Clinton impeachment – where the GOP pursued trumped up and insignificant allegations – would be that it discourages future Congresses from examining credible and significant allegations of a constitutional nature when they arise.
This is absolutely right, and I sometimes wonder whether it could have been deliberate, whether the Republicans were using it to immunize their next president from impeachment so that he would be completely unaccountable, completely unbound. Tempting as that idea is, here’s probably no need to assume conspiracy where petty vengeance will suffice.
But regardless of the reason, reclaiming the impeachment process as a tool to protect the government’s integrity would be very beneficial indeed. It’s just hard to imagine it actually happening.
Sometimes, though, standing up is the best way not to be seen.
Kos diarist alysheba has some excellent advice for the busted baseball players on how they can get the media to ignore them completely:
[I]n this instance, the only way to salvage a celebrity’s career – and bring comfort into the hearts of all the nation’s citizens – is to effect a complete and total media blackout.
It sounds difficult, I know. But, ironically, this has never been easier to accomplish than it is right now, at this exact moment, thanks in no small part to the Presidency of George Bush, to his indentured corporate media and, yes, to the spineless Democratic leadership who stubbornly refuse to stand up for anything.
You’ll see what I mean below, where I offer to these fallen legends my fool-proof prescriptions for making the scandal – and themselves – disappear completely…
ROGER CLEMENS: Call a press conference and immediately demand the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.
It may sound paradoxical, but in order to disappear, Clemens needs to put in some serious face time hammering this issue. I call it my “Crazy Ivan” maneuver (patent pending) – turning headlong into the media’s prurience before their corporate handlers have time to retask them. One serious marathon session of putting that big, square jaw in front of every camera he can find and talking incessantly about the need for impeachment?? 24 hours later it’ll be: “Roger who?”
DAVID JUSTICE: Join forces with Robert Kennedy and announce a speaking tour to raise the nation’s awareness of election fraud in 2004.
As a retiree, David Justice has time on his side – time to think, time to plan, most of all, time to sit through a crash course in the Conyers Report at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, and then take his newfound knowledge on the road! It may sound cliched, but making one’s self the poster-child for what the mainstream media prefers to label a “conspiracy theory,” well, that’s the high road to a low profile.
LENNY DYKSTRA: Quickly orchestrate and, if necessary, self-finance, an endorsement deal for Johnathan Goodwin’s 100 mpg diesel-electric Hummer.
Nothing says “media blackout” like the phrase “alternative fuel.” And for Dykstra’s money, he couldn’t find a better place to hide than under a 7,000 lb. car that scares the shit out of Detroit. I mean, a right wing loon like Arnold Schwarzenegger joining forces with an energy independence advocate like Goodwin? Plus the endorsement of a tobacco chewing millionaire like Dykstra?? There’s no way to shoehorn those oddities into the stock media narrative! And you know what that means: BUH-BYE DYKSTRA HEADLINES!
ANDY PETTITE: Join the Army. Go to Iraq. Stay out of combat if possible, but upon your return have someone pen a book on your (fictional) traumatic brain injury. Stay away from Bob Woodruff at all costs!
Pettite’s got a lot to lose. Given that Bonds was already done prior to today’s news, and that Clemens was close to retirement anyway, Pettite, in my professional opinion as a newly minted publicist, is the real loser today and it appears he may have to go for the sacrifice fly.
He may get some press initially over the whole “celebrity enlistment” thing, but say he’s done with his obligation in three years, he’ll still have a good half-decade of throwing ahead of him. And, again, coming home with the whole sourpuss TBI-thing – that’s a guaranteed “C-ya” in the press and next thing y’know, he’s back on the mound.
But, again, Pettite must stay well clear of Bob Woodruff. The last thing he needs is to get swept up in another one of those “intrepid reporter” plots. That’s the kinda airtime no fallen hero needs!
BARRY BONDS: Rent out the “House that (You) Built” and stage a public hearing on the Sibel Edmonds case, signing autographs as necessary to increase attendence.
Alysheba is right. There is no better way to make the corporate media forget that you ever existed. These topics are – I’m going to assume that “dognip” is the opposite of catnip – for the media that control our discourse.
Today is the 33rd anniversary of one of the best and worst moments in American history: The resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
It was one of the best moments because it was a triumph of our constitutional system, as it successfully removed a corrupt and lawless president for power. It was also, dare I say it, a great moment for the congressional Republicans who told Nixon it was time for him to go, for the good of the country, or at least the party. And I even have to give Nixon some credit for ultimately yielding to the obvious.
But it was also one of the worst moments because of all that went before it, the dishonor cast upon our government in general, and the office of the president in particular. How could we have not just elected, but re-elected such an odious criminal? Why did it take so long to get rid of him?
And now, 33 years later, we find ourselves suffering through a presidency that makes Richard Nixon look like Jimmy Carter, and yet there is no impeachment or resignation in sight. A few Republicans are squirming privately, and an even smaller few are squirming more publicly, but the overwhelming majority of Republicans (and media) still act as though Dubya can do no wrong, and the overwhelming majority of Democrats want nothing to do with impeachment.
Where did we go astray? When did it become so hard to distinguish right from wrong? When did our media and elected representatives stop caring about the difference, even if only for the sake of appearances?
I am walking in Rosedale on this day early in the week while I wait for the funeral of Army soldier Le Ron Wilson, who died at age 18 in Iraq. He was 17 1/2 when he had his mother sign his enlistment papers at the Jamaica recruiting office. If she didn’t, he told her, he would just wait for the months to his 18th birthday and go in anyway. He graduated from Thomas Edison High School at noon one day in May. He left right away for basic training. He came home in a box last weekend. He had a fast war.
The war was there to take his life because George Bush started it with bold-faced lies.
If Bush did this in Queens, he would be in court on Queens Boulevard on a murder charge.
He did it in the White House, and it is appropriate, and mandatory for the good of the nation, that impeachment proceedings be started. You can’t live with lies. You can’t permit them to be passed on as if it is the thing to do.
Yesterday, Bush didn’t run the country for a couple of hours while he had a colonoscopy at the presidential retreat, Camp David. He came out of it all right. He should now take his good health and go home, quit a job he doesn’t have a clue as to how to do.
The other day, Bush said he couldn’t understand why in the world would some people say that millions of Americans have no health insurance. “Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room,” he said.
Said this with the smirk, the insolent smug, contemptuous way he speaks to citizens.
People, particularly these politicians, these frightened beggars in suits, seem petrified about impeachment. It could wreck the country. Ridiculous. I’ve been around this business twice and we’re all still here and no politician was even injured. Richard Nixon lied during a war and helped get some 58,500 Americans killed and many escaped by hanging onto helicopter skids. Nixon left peacefully. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Democratic Senate majority leader, said on television that the Senate impeachment trial of Nixon would be televised and there would be no immunity. That meant Nixon would have to face the country under oath and if he lied he would go to prison. He knew he was finished as he heard this. Mansfield said no more. He got up and left. Barbara Walters, on the “Today” show, said, “He doesn’t say very much, does he?
This time, we have dead bodies involved. Consider what is accomplished by the simple power of the word impeachment. If you read these broken-down news writers or terrified politicians claiming that an impeachment would leave the nation in pieces, don’t give a moment to them.
[A]n investigator – the mind here sees George Mitchell and Warren Rudman, and you name me better – can slap a hand on the slitherers and sneaks who have kept us in war for five years and who use failing generals to beg for more time and more lives of our young. A final word in September? Two years more, the generals and Bush people say.
Say impeachment and you’ll get your troops home.
[I]n Washington we had this Bush, and it is implausible to have anyone who is this dumb running anything, smirking at his country…. On his PBS television show the other night, Bill Moyers said he was amazed at Sara Taylor of the White House staff saying that she didn’t have to talk to a congressional committee because George Bush had ordered her not to. “I took an oath to uphold the president,” she said.
That president had been in charge of a government that kidnapped, tortured, lied, intercepted mail and calls, all in the name of opposing people who are willing to kill themselves right in front of you. You have to get rid of a government like this. Ask anybody in Rosedale, where Le Ron Wilson wanted to live his young life. His grave speaks out that this is an impeachable offense.
Okay, I just checked; Breslin will be 77 this fall, and Broder will be 78. Broder’s brain has turned to mush, and Breslin’s… hasn’t.
Okay, so, I have never been a real impeachment enthusiast. My feeling has always been that if the Democrats are going to go that route, they need to use investigations and hearings to build popular demand for impeachment, so that they are finally “forced” to oh-so-reluctantly give in to the will of the people.
However, the longer Bush goes unchecked, the more he acts like a toddler who has discovered that his parents won’t actually discipline him for anything. As the reality gradually dawns on him that there are no rules, he becomes bolder and bolder. At this point, the only way to rein him in is to send him to bed without any supper. Or, y’know, just kick him out of the house altogether.
Anyway, the fact is, I don’t think impeachment is nearly as much of a reach as the Democrats seem to think it is. F’rinstance, last March an ARG poll indicated that 42% of the American people were in favor of impeachment, including 47% of Independents. And that’s before the US Attorney scandal, and the Libby verdict and commutation. And four months before that, an Ipsos poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org found that 50% of Americans, and 56% of Independents, favored impeachment if Bush lied us into Iraq.
So that suggests to me that the idea of impeachment is not some far-left fantasy, but actually pretty darn close to mainstream – and 16-20 months later, it’s probably even mainstreamier. I’ll be interested in seeing what results the Brave New Films impeachment poll comes up with. If you’re likewise curious, you might want to kick in a few bucks to help them raise the commission fee for it.
“The Johnson Treatment,” by George Tames (hat-tip to spork)
So last night I dreamt that I had a brief conversation with Lyndon Johnson, who was still alive and in good shape, puttering around and giving environmental presentations in the enormous $1.5 billion planetarium complex he purchased in 1965 (the dream was unclear as to whether it was staffed by his complimentary ex-president Secret Service detail).
Unfortunately, the details of my dreams tend to evaporate very quickly, so all I can remember at this point is that he said that the current crop of Dems “needs muscle,” and they never consult with him on anything. Then I got chased around for a while and ended up hiding under a hedge, clutching a safety pin that Malcolm McDowell gave me. It’s amazing how insightful dreams can be.
The fact is, the Dems could stand to take some advice from Lyndon Johnson, who, while flawed, was also forceful and determined. He actually sacrificed votes for principle, signing the Civil Rights Act while acknowledging it would lose the South for a generation (we should be getting it back soon, right?). Who knows, he might even have some good what-not-to-do advice on how to get out of Iraq…
The Democrats, on the other hand, are actually sacrificing votes through lack of principle. For several months now, we’ve been accusing the Democrats of poll-driven calculation. This is not really an accurate criticism. Assuming they’ve been reading the same polls I have, their error has been poll-ignoring calculation. The polls are saying quite clearly that everyone except the Republicans is thoroughly fed up with Bush and the Republicans, yet the Democrats continue to make excuses and do nothing. The Dems are not just missing an opportunity to improve their stature at the Republicans’ expense, they are in fact hurting themselves by ignoring the public mood and failing to oppose a very unpopular regime.
Now the latest really big shoe has dropped in the Plame investigation, and it appears to finger the president (can shoes finger?). Worse yet, there is evidence floating around that the Plame leak was part of a larger coverup to conceal the President’s knowledge that the case for war was bogus, at least until the 2004 election was safely over. If (and this is a big if) these two stories can be tied together in the public mind – “The president authorized a damaging leak to obscure the fact that he blew up Iraq and killed 2300 Americans for no good reason” – I think we’re going to see a groundswell in support for impeachment. I’ve been lukewarm on impeachment because I believe it’s a mistake to impeach when there’s no public support for it. But it’s an even bigger mistake not to impeach when there is public support for it. Sure, it’ll piss off Republican voters, but they’re already a lost cause. Give the rest of us something to root for and vote for, I’m begging you.
As I understand it, the Democrats have been reluctant to embrace Russ Feingold’s motion to censure the President because they’re worried that they might alienate the Vast Undecided Swing-Voter Middle. Personally, I thought this was weak and stupid, but Mr. Atta J. Turk posted a link to a very intriguing American Research Group poll, and now I have seen the light! Hallelujah!
Do you favor or oppose the United States Senate passing a resolution censuring President George W. Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders?
Do you favor or oppose the United States House of Representatives voting to impeach President George W. Bush?
So, if we assume that the Independents are a reasonable proxy for undecided swing voters, we can plainly see that a clear plurality oppose censuring the President for illegal wireless wiretapping, and would instead prefer to see him impeached.
Okay, Dems, your lord and master, The Almighty Middle has spoken. Hop to it.
UPDATE: I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out why there’s more support for censure than impeachment among Democrats, but the reverse for Independents, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
The Democrats (myself included, to be honest) are wary of impeachment because of the potential for blowback, as happened with Clinton. My theory is that the Independents don’t care about that because it’s not their party. They want to see Bush nailed to the wall, not just reprimanded.
4 commentsMarch 16th, 2006 at 06:40pmPosted by Eli
Atrios has linked to a couple of excellent but pessimistic posts by Peter Daou, in which he deconstructs the reasons why liberals and Democrats have been so ineffective in countering Republicans in general, and how they will fail to make the latest NSA spying scandal stick in particular.
On the whole, I think he is disturbingly accurate about the disconnect between the out-of-touch, don’t-rock-the-boat Democratic party establishment and the eloquent, and passionate liberal netroots, but it seems to me that he overlooks one very important fact: The law doesn’t care. Fitzgerald doesn’t care. The Republicans and their media allies can lie and spin all they want, but they can’t make indictments go away, and they’re piling up. “Duke” Cunningham’s already fessed up and resigned. DeLay, Libby, possibly Frist, possibly a whole mess of congresscritters on Abramoff’s payroll, are all under indictment now or in the near future. Even a wholly corporate-owned media can’t bury that, much less prevent it. And that will be a drag on Republican attempts to further consolidate their power in the 2006 and 2008 elections – especially those candidates who are indicted or otherwise tainted by scandal.
Indeed, Daou himself makes this remarkable statement about this latest outrage:
The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his ‘resolve’ and toughness.
When a party’s strategy is to “blend” new scandals in with a steaming pile of other scandals, I think it’s safe to say they could be in some serious electoral jeopardy, especially at the state and local level. For while that approach may be successful at the national level, I am fairly certain that the voters in indictees’ states and districts will echo Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinnie: “Oh yeah. You blend.”
This leaves only the president, who, if I understand the process correctly, can only be brought to trial via the impeachment process, which is really quite extraordinary – imagine a murder suspect who has confessed, but can only be indicted if his enemies outvote his friends. Also, what happens if the FOIA succeeds and the NSA is forced to release their list of wiretappees, and one or more of them decide to sue? Could they sue the president, or only the federal government in general? Could Bush face criminal charges when he leaves office? Can any law-talkin’ folks help me out here?
In any case, even if there is no impeachment, Bush is still gone in 2009. And if a wave of scandals washes away a whole bunch of Republican reps and senators in 2006, then Bush’s reign of terror is effectively over, which is a very important short-term goal.
[following a summary of Bush’s consistently sub-40 approval ratings and increasingly 60+ disapproval ratings]
So where does all this lead? We busted through the 40 point floor a long time ago. We have now busted the 60% disapproval ceiling. What’s next–29% disapproval? Is that our goal? And after that, is it another arbitrary number? Or is Bush’s resignation / impeachment our goal?
In a word, no. Now that we have passed 60% disapproval, there are no more numeric goals when it comes to Bush’s disapproval. Sub-35 would be nice, but it is not necessary. The goal now is realignment. Bush’s disapproval is so high, and his position as the face of the Republican Party is so assured, that it is now possible to envision a vast national realignment away from the Republican Party based primarily on backlash against Bush-ism (aka, contemporary conservatism). [Examples from ’66-’68, ’80, and ’92-’94]
Bush’s approval is now low enough for a realignment to take place in 2006 and 2008. A realignment is far more important to Democrats and progressives than Bush’s impeachment or resignation could ever be. This is a generational event and, considering the timing of previous realignments, 1968, 1980 and 1992-4, the timing also suggests that the opportunity is ripe. Also, the realignment will clearly come from Independents, not disaffected Republicans, as Jerome first envisioned several months ago, and as I have also documented as well. As Ruy Teixiera has called it, the opportunity before us is the Indycrat realignment.
This is it. This is our chance–our once in a generation window. If we keep Bush’s approval low, results like we saw for Paul Hackett on August 2nd and across the country on November 8th will become the norm. Apart from withdrawal, I’m not even sure we need a major platform adjustment or roll-out. People pretty much already know what we stand for. As long as they grow convinced that Bushism doesn’t work, they will come over to our side.
This is the scenario that we must have. I have been repeating over and over again that impeachment is not that important, that it could even be counterproductive if there’s not a public clamor for it. Yes, it would tarnish Bush’s reputation, but that ship has already sailed, in case you hadn’t noticed. Assuming Democrats retake the House next year (possible but far from inevitable), I’m guessing that by the time impeachment proceedings forced Bush out one way or another, and assuming that Cheney is gone as well and has not been replaced, then yes, we could shave a year off of Bush’s term. Big whoop.
What’s important is not getting rid of Bush; what’s important is getting rid of the Republicans, or at the very least shattering their current stranglehold on power. And for that to happen, Bush must be synonymous with Republicans in voters’ minds. I hope Chris is right about Bush being the face of the Republican party, because as things get worse for him, Republicans are going to start trying harder and harder to distance themselves from him. It’s going to be up to their Democratic opponents to keep reminding voters of all the times Senator Dubya-Doesn’t-Speak-For-Me (R-Weaselvania) stood with Dubya and said he could do no wrong, and voted for every single one of his disastrous policies. The same goes for capitulators like Lieberman and Biden and Landrieu, because we need an effective, voting majority, not just a nominal one.
As Chris says, it’s up to the Democrats to capitalize on this golden opportunity. Will sitting back and letting the Republicans implode be enough? It might be, but why leave it to chance? If the roles were reversed, the Republicans would be merrily kicking us in the crotch, so why not return the favor? Reid gets this, and Dean gets this, but the Democratic party is still full of Shrums and Braziles and DLC sellouts who don’t. We have to win the battle for the soul of the Democratic party before we can even begin to fight the battle for the soul of the country.
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.