Friday, July 06, 2007

I don't get it

Whenever I go to Daily Kos, I can't help but notice the posted diaries on impeachment. It seems like everyday there are 8 to 10 diaries suggesting we impeach the President and Vice President as soon as possible. Upon reading these diaries, and others blog posts in support of impeachment, I have had a consistently mixed reaction. I believe Digby explains it best:
Has there ever been a president who deserved it more? I don't think so. Looking at this as someone who believes that until we hold them accountable for their crimes, these zombie crooks will keep doing this over and over again until our country is unrecognizable, my instinct is to scream it from the rafters. But I'm still not convinced that the Democrats should try to impeach.

She points out three reasons why impeachment is a long shot:

1. There isn't an identifiable 'crime' to impeach him on- some might say the actions that led to war would constitute grounds for impeachment, but we need a specific, easily provable instance of wrongdoing here. I don't see one. The acts related to the attorney scandal may constitute grounds, but that leads us to 2.

2. Time is not on our side- the legal battles related to the attorney scandal would take an extremely long time to settle. By that time Bush would already be out of office.

3. This is the most compelling reason against impeachment- so I will quote in full:
Finally, there is the most important and indisputable fact that Bush and Cheney will never be convicted in the Senate. This isn't the GOP of 1974 and they will never cross over in enough numbers. They won't do it even if video tapes of Bush personally giving hush money to Scooter Libby turn up. Let's not kid ourselves about that reality. The fact is that impeachment will probably bring their caucus together.

But even so, that's not necessarily a good enough reason not to do it. It could be useful, if only to tie the administration up in knots until they leave the scene. But the risks are high that if you don't have a specific (and somewhat simple) crime to point to and a good chance of at least getting a quick impeachment vote in the House, that it could blow back pretty hard on the Dems. This is not because people like Bush and don't want him out of office. It's because they see that the presidential campaign is in full swing and know that Bush will be out of office soon anyway. That means many of them will likely be susceptible to the inevitable GOP screeching that the petty Democrats are playing politics, going for payback, wasting time etc. And the media will be thrilled to help the Republicans make that case.

I would also add that before a move like this is made, we need broad public support for it. As of now, less than half of all Americans support impeaching the president. If we get to a point were a full 65% of the American public supported impeachment, then there would be a compelling enough reason to follow through on it. Until that time, however, I would suggest focusing on getting a Democrat into the White House in 2008.


Pork Rinds said...

This is interesting timing. I got an email today making a case for impeaching Cheney. Don't get me wrong, I despise his politics as much as the next guy, but talking of impeachment seems like more of a distraction than a constructive solution and the grounds for impeachment are pretty flimsy. If this were '05, there was a Dem majority, and if the will was there, maybe. Not now.

Disco said...

I feel differently. I feel that we need to push for impeachment. I think we need to do it for the soul of this country. When we don't push to severely punish such egregious lapses in collective judgment, we only promote the chance of the same happening in the future. Hearings on impeachment may well sway public opinion.

To me, tabling impeachment is a sign of gutless democrats, who were outmaneuvered before the 2006 elections to prematurely commit to not pushing for impeachment.

I feel it is a just cause.

Pork Rinds said...

Though I agree with you in spirit, I have a very difficult time believing that a man with a 30% approval rating really needs to be dragged before a grand jury for people to see the damage he and his cronies have done. It'll make him seem sympathetic to some, like a martyr to others, and cast the dems in a vindictive light, which as Broca pointed out, will supply the media with another opportunity to skewer liberals.

I think that taking such a risk should be more than a symbolic gesture against tyranny. Impeachment won't end his reign any sooner.

Pork Rinds said...

Edit: I guess it was Digby who pointed out the bit about the media, not Broca.

Broca said...

Dude, I totally pointed it out, Digby might have written it first but I did all the heavy lifting by reading.

I am in total agreement with you about impeachment. I don't understand what we would gain in the process. We would be in the midst of an election, with no focus on why we are better off with liberals in charge. Instead, the focus would be on Bush and his presidency. I also agree that, as crazy as it might seem, the press frame on the matter would be on the supposed vindictiveness of Democrats towards Bush. I don't trust the media to present this thoughtfully.

About your comments Digby points out- what would be offered as the reason for impeachment? We need something concrete enough to convince a large chunk of Republicans.

About the idea of swaying public opinion, I don't think that cuts it for impeachment. The people must lead on this; as such, it should be supported by the vast majority of the public before moving forward. Otherwise, we continue the dangerous practice (set by the Republicans in 1997) of impeaching on seemingly partisan grounds.

Disco said...

I respectfully disagree that there is nothing concrete to push for impeachment. Seems like nearly every damn day there is new evidence of dereliction of duty. Sure, we're not going to get a letter that says "Dear American public, I purposefully mislead us into war for my big oil buddies. Have a good one! Love, George." Downing Street Memo anyone? Also, multiple examples of incompetence.

As far as the practical points, I just don't think they sound very principled. If impeachment would be a good idea outside of the election cycle timing, then it seems like it should be about more than how this will affect a party. To me the issues are bigger than partisan strategy.

Further, on the second point that the majority of people aren't behind it NOW. Since when does any movement get off the ground with a majority? Seems to me that most events/changes begin with a vocal majority.

Broca said...

Even when you look at the Downing Street Memo, there is nothing there that we can point to and say- "there, there is the evidence that we need for impeachment". I loathe the fact that Clinton was impeached, but the Republicans did have something concrete to impeach him on (after 4 years of investigating him).

On the matter of principle/practicality, I don't see how this is any different from the arguments made during the 2000 election between Gore and Nader. Back then I was on the side of Nader (although I did live in a solid blue state- which allowed for this) and thought that I was standing up for some greater principle.

Yet, in retrospect, I can see that Gore's supporters were also arguing for principles. They might have seen that the two party system was creating huge problems, but it was more important for them to fight for the possible assaults from a conservative administration. And, in the long run, they were right.

We can wage the same fight here as the Nader purists and push for impeachment, yet by doing so we can lose the fight for the things we believe will help this country. I would suggest focusing our energy on fighting this President and the right-wing media. We must have a liberal in the White House in 2008, we don't have to have an impeached president.

In reference to the majority- removing a President from office is such a weighty prospect that it really shouldn't be the voice of a simple majority asking for it. The founders were aware of what trouble this would cause and insisted that removing a President from office would need two-thirds of the Senate.

Disco said...

The Nader/Gore elections and this instance have some similarities, but also some differences. Believing that Nader-backers cost Gore the election does not necessarily equate to impeachment being a bad idea. Implicit in your argument is that people wouldn't be behind impeachment. Yet, that is an assumption that may not prove to be true, particularly given Bush's historically low poll numbers. What we need is real leadership, not the status-quo of being fearful to stand up for what is right.

Question: do you need to have incontrovertible proof to decide that further investigation would be warranted?

We need to move past cold political calculations and stand for justice [in my opinion]. An historical example that was discussed frequently when Ford died: speculation that pardoning Nixon perpetuated a sense that President's were above the law, and were untouchable. What effects of not moving to impeach bush/cheney will we face in thirty years?

Listened to Ring of Fire today [EXCELLENT show, BTW], and they had the parallel disagreement. The senator [can't remember his name] suggested that impeachment wasn't a good idea for the same reasons you have suggested Broca [limited to the timing issue, not the grounds argument], but said the time for investigation/ prosecution of the administration was when a new, Democratic administration takes over. Sounds like an important 'if' to me, but thought you'd find the idea interesting.

Again, though, I think the assumption that the people would not rally around going after Shrub is an assumption to which I do not subscribe. WANTED: Real Leadership.