Why not impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office?
Among those who devoutly wish that these two be separated
from their offices, the most prominent reason for resisting impeachment is that
even if a bill of impeachment were voted in the House of Representatives,
conviction and removal from office by the Senate will almost certainly fail. So
why begin an endeavor that is doomed at the start? So argue such worthy
observers as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Randi Rhodes and John Dean. Until
recently, I concurred
with this opinion.
These skeptics would have a point if Senate conviction and
removal from office were the sole objective and consequence of impeachment, as
the Republican regulars and their compliant enablers in the corporate media
would have us believe. Once again, by assuming that removal from office is the
be-all and end-all of impeachment, the Democrats and many of their progressive
supporters and commentators have carelessly consented to play the GOP game by
the GOP rules. They have, as George Lakoff might put it, thoughtlessly adopted
their opponents� �framing� of the impeachment issue. They have, to put it
bluntly, been suckered again, as they have all too many times in the past. When
will they ever learn?
These Democrats et al. seem to pay little attention
to the potential benefits of an unsuccessful impeachment. These benefits
include the uncovering and publicizing of the Bushevik crimes and the
consequent educating of the public. This would, in turn, lead to the
discrediting of the corporate media and the devastation of the Republican
Party, resulting in a Democratic landslide in the next election. In short, a
loss in the Senate trial might be far outweighed by the benefits of the
investigations leading up to a House bill of impeachment and the subsequent
debate in the Senate trial. A �win� via a loss.
The Republican stalkers of Bill Clinton were well aware that
the process of impeachment might well be more significant than the outcome
of conviction and removal. After all, the Clinton impeachment was launched with
a full expectation that the effort would fail in the Senate. But even so, the
House Republicans anticipated that there would be sufficient mischief to be
gained by proceeding with a bill of impeachment that they went ahead anyway.
What they did not anticipate was that the public at large would be more put off
by the GOP�s partisan shenanigans than by �Slick Willie�s� unrestrained libido.
The Democrats must stop fretting about a likely failure in
the Senate and put their eyes on the prize of the results of a congressional
investigation, of testimony under oath, and of the unavoidable publicity that
would result therefrom. And who knows, once the high crimes and misdemeanors
are exposed to the sunlight of open and public congressional hearings and
debate, the �impossible� Senate conviction just might turn out to be quite
possible. After all, all that is required is the defection of 17 GOP senators.
And bear in mind that 22 Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2008.
They might find themselves very hard-pressed in their re-election campaigns to
justify a vote for acquittal.
Today about half the public approves of impeachment,
provided they are convinced that Bush and Cheney lied to get us into war --
which, in fact, they did. Most of the �stubborn third� that still approves of
Bush, along with those undecided and indifferent (thanks, in part, to the
corporate media), are simply not informed of the facts. Once impeachment is set
in motion, the facts will �out.�
So let the facts come out in congressional hearings and
debates -- e.g., the illegal wire-taps, the Downing Street memos, the lies that
led to war (about Saddam�s alleged WMDs, the non-existent African uranium
shipments, Saddam�s alleged ties to al Qaeda), the violations of
constitutionally guaranteed rights, violation of oaths of office (failure to �protect
and defend the Constitution of the US�), the Plame affair, etc. Then approval
of Bush will likely fall below 20 percent, with an irresistible momentum in
public opinion to throw the rascals out.
As a consequence:
1. If impeachment is put back �on the table� and the House
acts, first come the investigations, the testimony under oath, the arguments in
the House (and on CSPAN at least, and the corporate media, however muted). The
can of worms will be opened.
2. The corporate media will be forced to report these
hearings. Those that do not (e.g., FOX) will lose audience and revenue. If (as
is likely) these events are underreported and distorted, the failure and
partisanship of the corporate media, past and present, will be exposed. The
corporate media will then face a difficult dilemma: return to responsible
journalism or go broke. In the Soviet Union, the prospect of financial loss was
not a problem, since the party media -- Pravda, Izvestia and Gostelradio
-- were not required to make a profit. Even so, their lies and distortion
eventually destroyed their credibility, as discerning Russians turned to
foreign sources of news and the unauthorized, underground media, �Samizdat.� That might
well be the consequence of an attempted media blackout of impeachment
investigations and debate.
3. GOP opposition to impeachment in the House and to
conviction in Senate will prove to be costly. Those in Congress who vote
against impeachment and conviction may lose their seats. The defection of 17
GOP Senators may no longer be unthinkable once the evidence comes out and is
publicized. Remember that Nixon�s impeachment and conviction were first
believed to be impossible. Then, as the truth came out, they became probable
and eventually inevitable, as the Republican members of the House and Senate
defected. Facing certain impeachment and conviction, Nixon resigned.
4. Once that can of worms is opened, still other unresolved
and explosive issues might be reopened. Among them, the anthrax attack of 2001
and (at long last) election fraud in the past four national elections. (Cf. my The Bombs in the
5. Finally, once Bush and Cheney are ensnared in a struggle
to avoid impeachment, conviction and removal, the Bushevik assault on the
Constitution and our rights, and the neocon�s dreams of empire, will thankfully
Accordingly, chances are that a resolution of impeachment in
the House will be a triumph for liberalism and reform, and a disaster for the
regressives and the GOP, despite, or even because of, failure to convict in the
Summing up: �You�ll never win in the Senate� is precisely
the argument upon which the Busheviks want the Democrats and the public to
focus. If the Busheviks succeed with this misdirection, they will win: there
will be no impeachment. To date, Pelosi and Reid have fallen into the trap, as
has much of the progressive commentariat.
The time is now to step out of the frame imposed by the GOP
and the media. Loss of the impeachment trial in the Senate is of lesser
importance. Investigation, testimony and disclosure of the �high crimes and
misdemeanors� is the greater prize.
And the sooner, the better!
Copyright � 2007 Ernest Partridge
Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of
Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy
at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, The Online Gadfly
and co-edits the progressive website, The