Friday, July 20, 2007

It Is Time

I think this story about the most recent assault on the Constitution by the Bush administration provides a nice segue for me to highly, highly recommend the PBS special by Bill Moyers on the subject of impeachment in which he interviews John Nichols of The Nation and Bruce Fein of The Washington Times (links and associated information here).

Fein and Nichols make a devastatingly persuasive case for beginning impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney. Enough to bring me over the edge that I have been approaching for some time. I admit to some timidity around the topic of impeachment. This has mostly been out of fear of what the process might do in terms of distracting focus from other key legislative efforts, knowledge of how time consuming it can be and a resignation to the fact that after all such effort was expended, all that would result would be a switch from Bush to Cheney. But, in the end, the precedent to be set is more important - and the message to future administrations that there will be consequences for ignoring and violating the Constitution. Bruce Fein discusses the stakes, and the possibility that there may be a work-around for the Cheney for Bush swap:
There's always going to be a political element, Bill. But in the past, there's always been a few statesmen who have said, "You know, the political fallout doesn't concern me as much as the Constitution of the United States." We have to keep that undefiled throughout posterity 'cause if it's not us, it will corrode. It will disappear on the installment plan. And that has been true in the past. When we had during Watergate Republicans and remember Barry Goldwater, Mr. Republican, who approached the president and said, "You've got to resign." There have always been that cream who said the country is more important than my party. We don't have that anymore.
Speaking of the impeachment bank shot, this is right on the mark:
BILL MOYERS: This is the first time I've heard talk of impeaching both a president and a vice-president. I mean, this-- as you saw in that poll, more people want to impeach Dick Cheney than George Bush. What's going on?

BRUCE FEIN: Well, this is an unusual affair of president/vice-president, where the vice-president is de facto president most of the time. And that's why most of people recognize that these decisions, especially when it comes to overreaching with executive power, are the product of Dick Cheney and his aide, David Addington, not George Bush and Alberto Gonzalez or Harriet Miers, who don't have the cerebral capacity to think of these devilish ideas. And for that reason, they equate the administration more with Dick Cheney than with George Bush.

BILL MOYERS: Bruce, you talk about overreaching. What, in practical terms, do you mean by that?

BRUCE FEIN: It means asserting powers and claiming that there are no other branches that have the authority to question it. Take, for instance, the assertion that he's made that when he is out to collect foreign intelligence, no other branch can tell him what to do. That means he can intercept your e-mails, your phone calls, open your regular mail, he can break and enter your home. He can even kidnap you, claiming I am seeking foreign intelligence and there's no other branch Congress can't say it's illegal--judges can't say this is illegal. I can do anything I want. That is overreaching. When he says that all of the world, all of the United States is a military battlefield because Osama bin Laden says he wants to kill us there, and I can then use the military to go into your homes and kill anyone there who I think is al-Qaeda or drop a rocket, that is overreaching. That is a claim even King George III didn't make at the time of the Revolution.
A few excerpts can't do justice to their respective arguments. Go read the transcripts or watch the video if you can. And then we can all play doctor:
JOHN NICHOLS: You are seeing impeachment as a constitutional crisis. Impeachment is the cure for a constitutional crisis. Don't mistake the medicine for the disease. When you have a constitutional crisis, the founders are very clear. They said there is a way to deal with this. We don't have to have a war. We don't have to raise an army and go to Washington. We have procedures in place where we can sanction a president appropriately, do what needs to be done up to the point of removing him from office and continue the republic. So we're not talking here about taking an ax to government. Quite the opposite. We are talking about applying some necessary strong medicine
The Bush administration is not letting up, slowing down or paring back its overreaching ways. They are only becoming more aggressive and more monarchical. The legacy that will be left, if uncorrected, will serve to greatly undermine the Constitution for generations - if not permanently. Each successive administration will have the precedent of the Bush administration to use as justification and, more importantly, starting point for further infringement. There is only one way to restore balance.

Impeach Bush and Cheney now. Gonzales too. I say that in all seriousness, and after a careful deliberative process that has evolved, perhaps too slowly, over the past few years.

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