Harry Reid this weekend pushed it away like it was a smelly bowl of oatmeal. Russ Feingold wasn’t quite as finicky as all that about it but did, in a more moderate course, hold his nose the whole time. And we all know that Nancy Pelosi has just plain scooped up that bowl and flinged it plum off the table.
Why, oh why, are Democrats so bloody scared of impeachment?
Do you think they know what it means?
The thought occurred to me this afternoon, as I remembered when, probably in or about seventh grade, some civics teacher had to twist some heads on straight regarding the ‘I’ word. It was a tall order of a lesson because so many to that point had already learned it completely wrong, and it is more difficult to unlearn than to learn.
This hero of a civics teacher had to disabuse a roomful of cocky teens of the notion that “impeachment” means you’re showing the Prez the door. He had to explain that impeachment is actually the first of a two part process, that what the House of Representatives actually does is to draw and approve the Articles of Impeachment, which is nothing more than an indictment, and that the trial itself goes forth in the Senate.
Is it possible that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, was down with the mumps that day? Or that senators Reid and Feingold are keeping their distance because they still hold the incorrect notion that impeachment is “don’t the the door hit ya?” Or are they merely afeared that their constituents are thusly ignorant?
Except that the polls aren’t bearing that last idea out, or else we’ve got voters sharpening their guillotine blades like the French were circa 1789. The polls said 46 percent wanted Bush impeached and that 54 percent wanted the same fate for the president. I mean, Cheney. Juxtapose those numbers versus the tumbling approval numbers, and the message seems clear. First 100 Hours, Our Asses. We didn’t put you Democrats in there to play footsie. Shake some foundations, or we’re lighting torches. That’s what’s on a majority of our minds these days regarding Congress.
A few weeks ago, Bill Moyers interviewed a liberal journalist and a conservative constitutional scholar.
Both of them convincingly and correctly argued for impeachment, not just to get the current president’s goat, not just to halt the insane occupation of Iraq, but to neuter a dangerous threat to the Constitution and to American democracy itself. If this Congress allows the current Administration to skate to 2009 without impeachment proceedings, they argued (and agreed), it tacitly approves of unchecked rendering and interrogation, of spying on Americans, and of a general overreach of the executive that Bruce Fein, the conservative one, said that even King George III wouldn’t have imagined.
It’s a stunning interview. If you haven’t seen it, please find it on the Tivo or on the Web.
I still say Congressional Democrats have Uzis in front of them that they’re not willing to touch in this fight, and that it’s insane and shameful. Impeachment hearings would offer more weight to the process and would more strongly compel testimony from reluctant witnesses. It might more vigorously shake the trees for whistle blowers and might at last reveal to the world this administration’s John Dean. It might bring truths forth that are so undeniable about the abyssmal, criminal behavior of the present administration that the Senate trial to follow would have no choice but to eschew politics in favor of a conviction and subsequent eviction of the current president and, perhaps, the current vice president.
There is a concept from behaviorist Abraham Maslow that haunts me perpetually regarding this situation, that if the only tool you think you have is a hammer, you tend to think every problem is a nail. This has certainly described the White House of the past six years, but I am fearing these days that it also describes our Congress. It is time to pause, step back, review the tool bench, and pick up the level instead of the hammer.