Is it too late to impeach?

Uncommon Sense:

IS IT TOO LATE TO IMPEACH?
Gordon Bennett
(in the Suburban and Wayne Times, July 26)

“No point is more important than that the right of impeachment shall be continued. Shall any man be above justice?” –George Mason, Constitutional Convention, 1787

According to one poll, over 60% of the American public wants the Bush presidency “to be over.” Another (June ’07) shows that 45% want the House to begin Impeachment proceedings against George Bush; 54% want to impeach Cheney.

Across the nation an aroused public is “acting out” with impeachment rallies, forums, and demonstrations. Banners are hung from overpasses, and in California hundreds spelled out the word I-M-P-E-A-C-H on the beach. Meanwhile, the California state Democratic committee voted an impeachment resolution. Other state committees and many cities and towns have done the same.

Locally, a hugely attended Philly Town Hall on Impeachment was held July 5; and over the past two weeks “HONK-INS TO IMPEACH” were held in Bryn Mawr and West Chester, with drivers leaning on their horns in response and producing a din heard blocks away.

The people want to hold this administration responsible, but the political leadership is moribund. Speaker Pelosi and her sycophants are wondering if impeachment would produce a backlash that would stymie the Democrats’ hope to reclaim the White House in 2008. Needed: a true statesman of either party who will put principle above politics.

Yes, Virginia, there were such people during the Nixon era, Republicans as well as Democrats, and they put Nixon away to protect the Constitution and reclaim our democracy. Now we have another Constitutional crisis: when will principled politicians stand up in the well of the House and shout ENOUGH!?

But folks at the grass roots are asking, “Isn’t it too late? Bush and Cheney will be out in just 18 months. Why bother with impeachment?”

Three responses.

ONE. Bush and Cheney can do a lot more damage in 18 months. As we speak—and Congress fails to act—the Iraq War continues. Hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis are maimed and killed, detainees are tortured in CIA prisons, and the entire Iraqi middle class—so far 2.2 million refugees—is fleeing the country.

Also, leaving Bush and Cheney in office opens the possibility of another unprovoked, illegal attack on a sovereign nation. As Seymour Hersh and others are warning, Cheney and the super-hawks are keen on bombing Iran before they leave office. Impeachment would prevent this disaster from happening.

TWO. Failure to impeach Bush and Cheney will lower the bar for every succeeding administration and set some horrible precedents.

Conservative constitutional scholar Bruce Fein argues that Bush’s insistence that as a wartime President “’I can do anything I want’… is an impeachable offense. It jeopardizes out democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that…would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.”

Sans impeachment, the policies of this reckless regime are left on the table for later Chief Executives: pre-emptive war, torture, signing statements and other ways of eviscerating Congress, warrantless wiretapping, co-opting the Justice Department for political purposes.

THREE. Unhappily, we are probably the most hated nation on earth, or at least the most feared. After 9/11, Bush and Cheney squandered the sympathy and good will towards America that event produced; instead, they responded with a brutal militarism, condemning our allies who disagreed, subverting the United Nations, and generally insisting on having their own way in the world.
America is seen as the world’s biggest bully; yet we have the resources to become the world’s biggest benefactor. Holding Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes against humanity would, in effect, become a welcome apology for the way we’ve battered our way through the Middle East and generally offended the global community during the past six years.

Through impeachment we’re telling a hostile world that America is not Bush and Cheney; indeed, we repudiate their “might makes right” philosophy and the Machiavellian lust for power that informs the neocon foreign policy.

Thank God for the wisdom and prescience of those who wrote the Constitution and included impeachment. Madison and Mason knew what kings and despots were like and didn’t like them. And they feared this republic might slip back into tyranny should a president (or vice-president) arise who was too big for his britches….

And too small for the job.
_____________________________________________________________
Gordon Bennett is a retired teacher who lives in Chester County. Responses: OrcaGB@aol.com

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