Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Regarding Impeachment and Ending the War

"The New Left has tried to create a sense of revolution in the nation by shouting slogans and marching up and down the streets. But when the hated establishment is left secure in its citadel, certain that it cannot be dislodged, then it has very little reason to pay attention to them and maintains the power to suppress them. The New Left should use the system to create uncertainty in the minds of Congressmen it dislikes so that all would tend to change lest lightening strike them in their next election.

"In a comparable manner the executive branch of the government could be easily changed if sufficient pressure were to be applied to it through the proper channels. …. There has never been a system that would not gladly sacrifice one of its own for a moment’s peace, no matter how brief. If the system is to be changed, then those who would change it should pinpoint its weak spot, its blockage points, and place all the pressure on that one point until the blockage is cleared."

--We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf; Vine Deloria, Jr.; Dell; 1970; pages 65-66.

Last week, I posted my essay "On Impeachment" on the Democratic Underground. It was one of dozens of threads that discussed the potential advantages of having the House of Representatives begin the investigations of the Bush administration that should lead to the impeachment of one or more officials in the executive branch. The response was interesting, and included the opinions of people who are strongly in favor of having our democratic officials follow the Constitution, as well as the views of many who believe that potential impeachment hearings would be a dangerous mistake.

Those opposed to the concept of impeaching Bush administration officials tended to express some common concerns. The first was that impeachment is all about "revenge." This is a weak position that deserves no serious consideration. If there is a bank-robber or a murderer in your community, you want the legal system to prosecute him/her. You don’t wring your hands in anxiety, fearful that the criminal might get mad.

Others said it will cause a cycle of impeachment, and used the example of Bill Clinton as evidence that they are correct. They are convinced that Clinton’s experience was only a result of the democrat’s having forced Richard Nixon from office. While it is possible, at least in theory, that some republicans were motivated by a strong sense of loyalty to Richard Nixon, in truth this "theory" reflects a shallow grasp of history.

It is fair to say, however, that in the current climate, a push for Congressional investigations will create hostilities. It is equally fair to say that efforts to protect the environment, to provide adequate health care, and to protect civil rights, will also be marked by conflict. Because republicans are at times hostile is no excuse for inaction.

It has also been stated, numerous times, that impeachment would require investigations first. I would hope that we all could agree that in the history of the United States, there has not been a single impeachment of any official that was not based upon an investigation. Pro-impeachment people seem more aware of this than the anti-impeachment folks.

The last anti-impeachment point is that we have more important things to deal with now. That’s an interesting thought Let’s look closer. What was the #1 issue of concern to voters across the country in last week’s elections? The war in Iraq. Survey after survey showed that the war in Iraq is increasingly unpopular. Republican candidates who recognized that voters associated President Bush with the war were not in a hurry to have George campaign for them.

The war is correctly associated with President Bush and VP Cheney. They came into office planning to invade Iraq. They lied to the country in order to manipulate the public’s perception of the "threat" that Iraq posed to the country. And Dick Cheney was involved in efforts to twist the WMD evidence to scare the hell out of Americans.

More, despite the democratic gains in the House and Senate, it is still the executive office that makes the major decisions about the US occupation of Iraq. Anyone familiar with the Constitution and the history of the USA knows that the president tends to gain the most power in the context of "war." I would be interested in any evidence that indicates that George W. Bush is not inclined to attempt to expand his powers through the use of "war," as well as any evidence that he is inclined to willingly turn that power over to others, especially democrats in Congress?

Some might think that the firing of Donald Rumsfeld is progress in this area. I strongly disagree. Though the timing of his action may have hurt republicans in the elections – and I’m not sure it did – the truth is that this is something that had been under consideration for some time. In fact, some republicans advocated replacing Rumsfeld with Joe Liebermann. It’s difficult to believe that we can rely upon a neoliberal senator like Lieberman to work with the Iran-Contra participant Robert Gates to end the war.

Others might have faith in the James Baker III group. I don’t. There is no reason that I am aware of to believe that the Baker group is looking to end the US occupation in the next two years. Baker may try to reduce American involvement in the day-to-day killings to an extent, but he is not going to advocate a complete withdrawal. If anyone heard President Bush talk about the control of the Iraqi oil supply last week, they should know he isn’t going to go along with any plan that doesn’t include control of that oil. And you can be sure that Dick Cheney is going to use his still considerable behind-the-scenes power to block any attempt to give up that control.

That is why I followed my "On Impeachment" essay with two informal surveys on DU. The first asked for opinions on what our course should be in Iraq; the second asked what leaders DUers thought could best help our nation to reach that goal. The first one had a good response, and there were numerous progressive suggestions on what steps we should take to get out of Iraq. The second one had far fewer responses, and I think that the people listed are among the last people on earth that Bush or Cheney would listen to.

So that’s the blockage that we face. We can have good plans, good leaders, and good intentions. But the Bush administration will continue to block real progress in the effort to get the US out of Iraq. Unless, of course, we understand Deloria’s words: "If the system is to be changed, then those who would change it should pinpoint its weak spot, its blockage points, and place all the pressure on that one point until the blockage is cleared." That pressure is the grass roots lobbying Congress to investigate the lies that brought us to war in Iraq. The weak point is VP Cheney. And the republican party would gladly sacrifice him for a moment'’ peace, and for the chance to be re-elected in '‘8.


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