Sunday, July 22, 2007
The Impeachment Debate Heats Up
Speaker Pelosi is opposed to impeachment. She has two good reasons:
- If Bush were impeached and convicted and removed from office, along with Vice President Cheney, she would become President. She doesn't want impeachment to look like a power grab.
- The push to impeach President Clinton was led by the odious Tom DeLay. He wanted Clinton removed simply because he hated him and because Clinton was a member of the other Party. Ms Pelosi does not want to be remembered as the Democratic equivalent of Tom DeLay.
Perhaps the constitutional amendment that makes the Speaker of the House third in line to succeed the President has had the unintended consequence of protecting the President from impeachment. At the time that President Nixon was impeached, the Democratic Speaker insisted that Nixon's choice for Vice President, Gerald Ford, should become the new President even though Ford had not been elected to the office of Vice President.
Because of Pelosi's reluctance to have the House hold hearings on impeachment and because there aren't 67 votes in the Senate to convict, some Democrats and Republicans are discouraging talk of impeachment. At best it would be an empty gesture if the House voted to impeach and the Senate voted to acquit, just as in the case of President Clinton. As a substitute, Senator Feingold urges a vote of censure against the President. Again, this would be an empty gesture. Mr. Bush wouldn't resign or even change his behavior. However, Congress would be on record as expressing disapproval of his unconstitutional acts and threats of unconstitutional acts, such as warrantless wire taps on American citizens and threatening not to prosecute witnesses cited for contempt of Congress - and to pardon any who are prosecuted and convicted and sentenced.
Actually, Mr. Bush has taught us some useful things about our constitution. He has ignored precedents he doesn't like, followed precedents he does like, and has stretched the meaning of the words of the document to justify his high-handed ignoration of Congress. He has shown how weak the "Power of the Purse" is in trying to correct a wrong-headed policy. He has shown us that our elected Representatives and Senators are much more interested in getting themselves reelected than in acting on behalf of the best interests of the nation. We should not revile him, but celebrate him as a great teacher.