March 25, 2006

"Window cleaner Ira Clemons put down his squeegee in the lobby of a city mall and stroked his goatee...."

Guess the topic of the MSM news article that begins its third paragraph thusly? It's: Do people want President Bush impeached? The goatee-squeegee guy does.

I don't know, do you spend any time thinking about the bubbling, fledgling impeachment movement?
It would be a considerable overstatement to say the fledgling impeachment movement threatens to topple a presidency -- there are just 33 House co-sponsors of a motion by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) to investigate and perhaps impeach Bush, and a large majority of elected Democrats think it is a bad idea. But talk bubbles up in many corners of the nation, and on the Internet, where several Web sites have led the charge, giving liberals an outlet for anger that has been years in the making....

Democrats remain far from unified. Prominent party leaders -- and a large majority of those in Congress -- distance themselves from the effort. They say the very word is a distraction, that talk of impeachment and censure reflect the polarization of politics. Activists spend too many hours dialing Democratic politicians and angrily demanding impeachment votes, they say....

"Impeachment is an outlet for anger and frustration, which I share, but politics ain't therapy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts liberal who declined to sign the Conyers resolution. "Bush would much rather debate impeachment than the disastrous war in Iraq."
Frank is right, obviously.


Bruce Hayden said...

It is silly and it is destructive. Yes, maybe, just maybe, the Democrats can pick up enough seats in Congress to gain a majority (through, for example, as we discussed before, running a bunch of women). But that is unlikely due to how well most states have been Gerrymandered. And even if it did happen, it wouldn't be by more than a seat or two, and all those new Representatives would be from swing districts. Add in the conservative Democrats, and you aren't going to get Articles through the House, even if the Democrats got control of it. Of course, if they could get it through the House, the chance in the Senate would still be near zero. That would require somewhere around 20 new Democrats, elected primarily from Red States, plus, I don't think there are that many Republican Senators up for reelection in 2006 (Need I add that conviction wouldn't get more than one or two Republican votes, given the acquittal of Clinton after actually breaking laws, and doing it for venal, and not national security reasons).

No, it is BDS, pure and simple. Little chance of getting an impeachment, practically zero of a conviction.

Bruce Hayden said...

It would be destructive, because it would be extremely bad precedent. The impeachment of Clinton was not good precedent, but, as noted before, it was for breaking the law for personal, venal, reasons. That may, just may, make future presidents think twice about following suit.

Impeaching Bush would be far different. The only conceivable grounds would be the NSA program. Many, including some here, call it illegal. Needless to say, there has been no final adjudication to that effect, but rather a lot of pontificating by "legal experts" (most of whom apparently didn't vote for Bush), and, IMHO, there is unlikely to be, for a number of reasons: standing to sue for anyone is questionable; courts would have to address the Separation of Powers issues, and the Supreme Court is likely to duck them or back the Executive; and Congress can, and is likely to, amend FISA making explicit the legality of the NSA program, and mooting most cases.

So, in order to get impeachment, you would end up having Congress impeaching the President over exercising his core power of protecting the American people through implementation of a program that even many of his critics believe is a good program that does help protect us.

I will add that impeachment would also set the precedent that Congress can (and should) override the president in separation of powers disputes through impeachment and not the courts.

MadisonMan said...


It seems to me that Democratic cohesiveness on this point is similar to Republican "cohesiveness" re: Clinton's impeachment. At least, Bruce, you tacity agree that Bush broke the law. That's progress (grin)

Rep. Frank's quote is wonderful. It should be done in needlepoint on pillows that are distributed to every Representative's office.

CB said...

The main (only?) reason the Clinton impeachment had any traction, in my opinion, was that it involved lurid sexual misbehavior, which captured the attention of the media and the public. An impeachment is a drastic and dramatic move, and requires a dramatic basis. I have a hard time believing the public will get too excited about boring and complicated government programs.

Bruce Hayden said...

No, I don't believe the President broke the law. Rather, and this may not have been apparent, the claim that he broke the law would really be the only viable basis for impeachment. One problem though - it is not clear that he has (and many of believe he hasn't). Contrast this with Clinton - there the question was not whether he broke the law, but rather, whether the law breaking, since it was so venal, rose to the level of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors".

PatCA said...

I don't see that Bruce admitting anything like Bush broke the law. He said some people here think the NSA is illegal, not him, if I read him right.

Impeachment talk is just a way for Conyers to get publicity and the WaPo is trying to give the notion gravitas. Impeachment of Clinton was really dumb and payback for Nixon's impeachment, which in retrospect seems a bit extreme too but those were the times--and now Bush is in the sights. Most people will se it as another partisan move that hurts the country.

I personally hope that the Reps lose their majority in the House of Representatives, to end the profligate spending. Another unified Congress will bankrupt the nation.

bearbee said...

Senate hearing set on move to censure Bush

In a one-sentence notice, the panel said the hearing would be held next Friday by the order of its chairman, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who has opposed censure.

Ross said...

I received an e-mail from my good friend Ken Mehlman at just Thursday, warning me that if the Democrats win control of Congress their goal is to impeach President Bush, and asking please for some money to ward off their plans. I've also heard Rush Limbaugh getting quite excited about the prospect of impeachment on the radio.

Funny to hear all these conservatives talking about impeachment -- if only to oppose the very notion. If I were them, I'd be very, very quiet about it. They might get the base warmed up, but they might also give people ideas.


Balfegor said...

They might get the base warmed up, but they might also give people ideas..

Getting the base fired up is good for them. Getting the Democrats to go ahead and try and impeach Bush is probably also very good for them, possibly even better. They recall well, I am sure, how badly impeaching Clinton backfired on them.

Bruce Hayden said...

My view is that Specter is likely opening hearings on censure in order to embarass the Democrats. If he actually supported censure, he would be unlikely to retain his chairmanship very long. He has been under suspicion from the first by the conservatives in his party.

No, any motion to censure right now will not pass the Senate. Not even close. At most, it might pick up a couple of RINO votes, but that is it from the Republicans, and they have enough sure votes to keep it from passing.

That leaves the Democrats. Most Red State Democrats will vote against it for sel-preservation. With the exception of Hillary (who could arguably be voting in favor for personal reasons) any Democrat who voted in favor of censure would in essence also be questioning the usefulness of the NSA program in defending America, and, by implication, be unserious about national defense. And that puts all the Democratic Senators, except for Feingold and Clinton, running for president, in a box - appease the fringe of their party and guarantee losing the general election, or alienate the fringe and lose the nomination.

knox said...

patca said:
"I personally hope that the Reps lose their majority in the House of Representatives, to end the profligate spending. Another unified Congress will bankrupt the nation."

I agree--the repubs should be ashamed at how they've squandered their majority and spent $$$ like Star Jones.