One of the great ironies of our time is the way anyone who even suggests Bush ought to be impeached gets ridiculed as a shrill, irrational Bush-hater by the very same people who felt that impeaching Bill Clinton for getting extramarital blow jobs was what a sober reading of the Constitution clearly demanded.
I mean, I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks sex is a constitutional crisis but feels we should all look the other way on lying the country into a ruinous illegal war and subverting numerous parts of, you know, the actual constitution
is, to put it mildly, hardly a dispassionate observer of presidential offenses.
I have felt for at least three years that Bush's crimes rose to the level of impeachable offenses. Nevertheless, there have always been political arguments against impeaching him. It would make the Democrats look vindictive and partisan. It would make impeachment look like a mere political tool instead of the nuclear option it used to be, if two presidents in a row got impeached (after having only one president get impeached in the entire rest of history).
I was on board with those arguments--reluctantly, because if the stuff Bush is doing isn't impeachable, what would be? (If history is any indication, blow jobs, burglary, and botching Reconstruction.) But I thought, well, we'll get through this, and it's better for the Democrats not to take the risk.
You know what, though? Screw the risk. I hope the buzz is wrong, but the speculation right now seems to be that Bush is going to try to provoke Iran and Syria into war.
Without Congressional approval, and without making any sort of case to the American public.
The administration also openly believes in the "unitary executive" theory of presidential power, meaning they think the president gets to do everything he wants.
Press Secretary Tony Snow, the other day: "But, you know, Congress has the power of the purse. The president has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way."
As Charlie Pierce puts it:
OK, that last comment is the ballgame. If Congress says no, he can do it anyway, because his pet AG and a couple of third-string academics say he can, or because big baby Jesus commands him to do it, or because he's the Decider. He is impervious to persuasion; not listening to Jim Baker was sheer ingratitude, if nothing else, given the fact that he'd be digging dry holes in Midland if Baker hadn't helped bail him out all those times. He recognizes no limits. Hell, if you did impeach him, and if you did convict him, I think it's even money he wouldn't recognize the Congress' power to do THAT. Of all the wreckage that's accumulated over the past seven years, the "unitary executive" is the one that most desperately needs to be swept away. I'm not sure there's another way to do that.
That's the problem. There isn't. Other, younger democracies learned from that mistake; in most western countries, if the President were at 30% approval and wildly overstepping his authority in deeply unpopular ways, they'd have a vote of "no confidence" and throw his ass out. We don't have that here. So we have a destructive fool of a president basically thumbing his nose at Congress and the public saying "yeah? How're you going to stop me?"
Well, the Constitution gives us two ways.
One, the Democrats have the power of the purse. They can cut off funding for things Bush wants to do. I'm all for this. I don't care if it has political consequences. Given that the escalation is roughly as popular as flesh-eating bacteria, and the war itself isn't doing much better, I'm actually not convinced it does have political consequences in the first place, but even if we assume "the Democrats don't support the troops" is an argument with some venom left, so what? It's the right thing to do. They need to do it.
The other is impeachment.
And if Bush thinks he's the king, and he can expand a war the country wants out of even if Congress says no, we have one way to stop him.
One way or another, we will be setting a precedent, here. If Bush expands his war, and Congress doesn't impeach him, the precedent will be that the President really is king. He has no checks on his authority. He doesn't have to listen to Congress no matter what they do.
Or, we could pull the trigger. For the Constitution, for the future.
If he goes into Iran and Syria, for Buddha's sake, pull the damn trigger.