Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why the Farce Continues Without Impeachment

There are those, and I am among them, who are amazed that this administration has yet to run afoul of an impeachment effort in the House of Representatives. The difficulty is that we who are in favor see the issue as one of necessary justice and the absolutely critical defense of the Constitution, while Nancy Pelosi sees it in terms of what is possible.


Repnancypelosi There are those, and I am among them, who are amazed that this administration has yet to run afoul of an impeachment effort in the House of Representatives. The difficulty is that we who are in favor see the issue as one of necessary justice and the absolutely critical defense of the Constitution, while Nancy Pelosi sees it in terms of what is possible.

Politics is the art of the possible and Pelosi, as long as she holds herself back from the occasional evening of scores, is a master of that black art. Conclusion; it ain’t gonna happen.

Nancy took impeachment ‘off the table’ prior to the mid-term elections for the best of political reasons. She wasn’t about to scare disaffected Republicans into sticking with their party for fear of watching George Bush impeached. Smart politics. It probably secured a few extra seats for the Democrats and every seat was a major accomplishment in an election no one could predict.

We have allowed (even encouraged) such political gerrymandering across the nation, that 95% of sitting Senators and Representatives, both Democrat and Republican,  are essentially unassailable. That doesn’t give the party out of power much to play with, even in times of historic disaffection.

Pelosi has kept impeachment off her plate, since the elections,  for three very practical reasons.

Reason number one is that, while the House could no doubt impeach any number of senior administration members, beginning with Dick Cheney and following on through Rumsfeld, Gonzales and perhaps even Bush himself, that process would take a huge amount of time and energy that she desperately needs to accomplish legislation. What the electorate gave the Dems in 2006 they can easily give back to Republicans if they don’t feel they’re getting their money’s worth.

Senharryreid So far, they haven’t. Pelosi reads the polls as well as anyone and, while the country shakes its head at George Bush’s 29% approval and Dick Cheney’s 19%, the inescapable fact is that Congress itself is in a dead heat with the Vice President.
Voters are hungry for change in Washington and they don’t feel they’re getting what was promised by Pelosi and Reid prior to the mid-term elections.

In their fantasy-world, they expect us to be

  • Out of Iraq,
  • Reversing the administration positions on global warming,
  • Rescinding tax breaks for the rich,
  • Cracking down on Wall Street shenanigans,
  • Turning away from K-Street influence and 
  • Balancing of the budget.

They wouldn’t mind a Palestinian-Israeli solution for dessert. Are those expectations unreasonable? You bet. Can Pelosi ignore them because they’re unreasonable? At her peril, she can and that’s why you won’t see her pleasing the few to antagonize the many.

Senatechamber Reason number two is that, while a finding of impeachable offense requires no more than a simple majority in the House, conviction is not in their power. The trial of an impeached official takes place in the Senate and, in that testosterone-rich environment, it requires a two-thirds majority to convict. Sixty-seven votes. Holding a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Harry Reid and his fellow Dems haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of organizing a coalition to convict.

Politics dictates that there are very few times when it pays to get into a fight you can’t possibly win and now is not such a time.

Reason number three has to do with Pelosi and Reid holding their gains and pulling off a Democratic presidential victory in 2008. As we have all been painfully made aware, the 2008 presidential election has broken out of the gate embarrassingly prematurely There are yet some 497 days to elections. That marathon in process, along with glazing-over the eyes of the nation in general, will prevent any sort of business as usual within the Congress.

Bushveto Every decision will be declared partisan by one candidate or another, every investigation blasted as a witch-hunt, every Democratic bill facing a veto. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are in the unenviable position of heading up majorities that are so thin they are unable to overturn a veto. In normal times that would speak well for the administration and a possible return of the House and Senate to Republican control. But these are not normal times.

This president and his war are so unpopular that the political climate is as difficult to forecast as the environmental climate. Republicans and Democrats alike are in uncharted waters. Republicans up for re-election in 2008 (which includes 202 seats in the House and 22 in the Senate) are as afraid to alienate their conservative ‘base’ as they are to support continuing policies the country has renounced. For their part, Democrats are desperate to turn things around as they promised, yet unable to turn back a veto.

Catch-22 on both sides of the aisle.

What else did Americans vote for that is not going to happen?

  • We are not going to be out of Iraq until another president takes office.
  • We are not going to come anywhere near to balancing the budget.
  • We are not going to have substantive progress on either health care or social security.
  • We are not going to see a change in the financial relationship between lobbyists and legislators.
  • We are not going to bring the halves and have-nots any closer to economic equity.
  • Nor are we going to see any substantive lessening of the fear-based society that this administration has made of us.

Richardnixon_2 We are substantively less secure, less well off and less satisfied with our government then we were in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned the office of the presidency in the face of threatened (but likely) impeachment. The paradox is that Nixon was, by every measurable quality, a more able and effective president than George W. Bush. The foolish break-in at Watergate, ostensibly to rifle through Democratic records, was a sign of paranoia. But that offense was absolute child’s play compared to the wholesale destruction of constitutional checks and balances within this administration.

The architect of that deconstruction is Dick Cheney, enabled by a weak and basically lazy president. The effect upon the nation won’t be seen fully for decades and its impact, for all the reasons outlined, is unknowable these nearly five hundred days before our next general election.

What is knowable is that there will be no impeachment of the principal actors upon our national stage.

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