« Fightin' Joe | Main | Speaking Of Fred Thompson ... »

July 06, 2007

Comments

Yes, both, high crimes and misdemeanors, absolutely, and yes.

I've thought it was hard to see how not to try for impeachment since the whole spying on the American public without warrents thing came out. Cheney goes for obstruction. I think its ok that we would lose the vote in the Senate I just want to make the Republican senators go on record as voting against it.

politically a bad move - the populace knows that Bush/Cheney have only 1½ years left and have no ability to get any legislation passed. The Dems would come across as vindictive & not focused on the future. At present, they float the idea, but never seriously undertake the effort - they're playing their hand well on impeachment.

I'm less interested in the question of whether it's politically a good move for Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton to support it, than in the question of whether it's politically a good move for me to support it. If that makes any sense.

Impeach Cheney first. The horror of a successful impeachment of Bush without removing Cheney is just too much to contemplate.

As far as the political calculations - frak that. How about doing the right thing and then figuring out how to make the sale to those people who don't understand it's the right thing? There ought to be consequences to lying the country into war, pissing away our international reputation with torture and kidnapping, violating civil rights left right and center, and repeated blatant violations of the constitution.

If there is a single signature theme to the Bush/Cheney administration it's that the law is for the little people. Let's show them they are wrong.

What I mean is: pretend I agreed that the Congressional Democrats in swing seats had no choice but to vote for the Iraq war before the 2002 midterms, and to vote for the Military Commissions Act before the 2006 midterms, if they hoped to be re-elected.
Would it follow that I, personally, should not write a series of blog posts about why the Iraq War & the MCA were terrible things?

I don't think it would. Maybe Barack Obama can't afford to support impeachment--but I'm not running for president. I can say what I want, and let Obama worry about his election chances.

(When I talk about whether it's a good idea politically, btw, I do not only mean "does this increase the chances of a Democratic politician getting elected President"? The idea that "There ought to be consequences to lying the country into war, pissing away our international reputation with torture and kidnapping, violating civil rights left right and center, and repeated blatant violations of the constitution." is very much a political consideration.

I don't think that the question of whether or not a President/Vice President should be impeached should go by poll numbers.

But it does seem extremely weird to me, given that Bush has actually admitted to committing multiple felonies (warrantless wiretapping of US citizens) that his impeachment hasn't been publicly on the table since January. Add to it that giving Libby an amnesty strongly implicates Bush in the cover-up, if not the initial offense, of the Plame leak, and, well: what are they waiting for?

Cheney's impeachment goes on multiple counts: not just the wiretapping, but the Plame leak, and also including, surely, the fact that the company of which he was CEO before he was V-P got quite so much unquestioned access to those reconstruction dollars to so little effect.

It doesn't really matter that they have only 18 months to go in office. They're committed the crimes: lay out the evidence clearly enough, make it obvious that Senators voting to acquit them are voting strictly on partisan lines, and maybe it would make clear to enough honest Republicans that they need to reform their party from the top down - or start a new one.

As the poll shows, the media don't support impeachment. So if impeachment starts we could expect a constant blast of media reports about what a terrible, partisan, worthless thing it was. Would that be worse than whatever the media blasted us with otherwise? I don't know,

If the media would run it, we might do better to get a series of reports pointing out the Senate needing 60 votes to do *anything*. Then whenever the media announce that congress is wasting its time on impeachment instead of taking care of the nation's business, we could point out that the GOP doesn't let us do anything useful anyway.

In the long run the big issue here is to make the media irrelevant. When the public treats the commercial news services as so much advertising, they won't be so dangerous.

So I think the President and the Vice-President have committed crime that are impeachable offenses, yes. Do I think impeachment is a good idea politically, no. Impeachment will take time away from any other legislative agenda that the Democrats want passed in the House or the Senate. It will cause an enormous disruption in the political process and ultimately, the requirement of a 2/3 vote by the Senate to convict means the effort will not succeed. I can not imagine any Republican crossing party line to vote to convict.

The only thing impeachment would accomplish is to get the issues of the illegal activity strictly in the public eye, and I'm not totally convinced the media will actually cover and impeachment properly. Bush and Cheney will be made to look like victims by much of the media and that could be disaster for the Democrats in the next election. It would give the Republicans an argument that the Democrats were more interested in humiliating the President than they were in governing the country.

Finally, even if there was a chance that either one would be removed from office, the time it would take to have the impeachment hearings would make this an exercises in futility. The Executive Office would stonewall the proceedings for as long as possible, and we would probably get them out only a few months earlier than having them fill their actual terms.

An idea I've read from Bill White over at theforvm.org is so crazy it just might work.
It hinges on the little known fact that the Speaker doesn't have to be a House Member...

1. The Dems make a secret deal with the 17 GOP Senators needed in the cloakroom.
2. "The House votes to impeach and Pelosi temporarily steps down then the House elects Colin Powell as Speaker or whichever other nominal Republican is the most palatable to 17 GOP Senators."


It would happen so fast the media wouldn't be a factor. The aftermath would be, uh, interesting though.
Two Thumbs Up!

I've been saying for some time that I'd support impeaching Bush: It can only distract Democrats from doing anything substantiative, and, after all, I can't argue that he hasn't done anything impeachable, even if I tend to disagree with Democrats about the specifics of the charges.

My only points to the contrary have been that, given Democratic opposition to impeaching the equally guilty Clinton, there's not a chance a Democratic impeachment drive would be seen as principled. Mainly because it wouldn't be... You were eager for some impeachment payback long before Bush did anything to merit it. And you do kind of need at least SOME Republicans on board to prevail.

As the poll shows, the media don't support impeachment. So if impeachment starts we could expect a constant blast of media reports about what a terrible, partisan, worthless thing it was.

But you're talking about the same media that constantly told us how absolutely horrible Clinton's crimes were, and consistently refused to call out the Republican impeachment effort as the partisan hit job it was.

Yet through all that, the American people made their own judgment. Poll after poll showed that they didn't think Clinton had done anything worthy of impeachment, and that they were upset with the Republican Congress over it.

People didn't listen to the media narrative then. So why are we concerned that the media would bamboozle them this time? If people think impeachment is a good thing, the media is not going to talk them out of it.

I believe that Bush and Cheney have committed impeachable offenses. The warrantless wiretap program, for instance, surely counts, as (imho) do the various blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war.

I do not believe, though I am open to argument, that it would be a good idea for the Democrats to try to impeach Bush. I'm much more open to the idea of impeaching Cheney, though there I would be a lot happier if there were some clear and solid crime that could clearly be pinned on him. (With Bush, one can always say: the buck stops here. That may in fact be true of Cheney, but he has an easier time dodging responsibility than Bush, not being President.)

Basically, I agree with Digby on this one.

I would certainly oppose impeaching Bush without impeaching Cheney first.

Since I do not myself believe that it would be a good idea for the Democrats to impeach Bush, and since "advocating impeachment" would be advocating that they impeach him, I don't see that I can in all honesty advocate that. I can, however, point out that there are impeachable offenses here, and that if we don't act, it's not for lack of good and solid grounds.

I don't think something like the MCA is exactly analogous: in that case, it was worth bellowing "STOP! STOP! and damn the consequences to your career!" precisely because something horrible was about to be written into law. In this case, given that impeachment proceedings would probably take up all the time Bush and Cheney have, it wouldn't get them out any faster, so it's more purely political.

The "Congress can't do anything else" argument loses force (for good or ill) in light of the fact that the Senate GOP automatically filibusters every major Democratic initiative anyway.

Brett: do you honestly think that Clinton is "equally guilty"? Bush has violated the laws, on purpose, and on a much larger scale. (Wiretap program.) Moreover, he didn't do so in his capacity as private citizen, he turned the machinery of government to illegal ends. Is lying about a blow job truly comparable?

hil, that's about where I was two weeks ago.

Though I didn't so much oppose trying for impeachment as I thought: "what's the point?" Not only would the Republicans never vote to convict--but the Congressional Democrats would never seriously consider voting to impeach. Look at the lack of interest in investigating the torture scandal; look at the MCA vote; look at the response to Feingold's censure effort over the NSA wiretapping; look at 100 other examples.

Then my newly-naturalized-citizen stepfather started talking about impeachment on July 4, and I realized that I was about the only member of my family to feel that way. And now I see that I am more ambivalent than most of the American public on this.

It's disconcerting to find myself the family conservative. But more than that, it got me thinking.

I can imagine certain things the administration did, certain abuses so egregious, that I would be demanding their impeachment, & damn the political consequences. And what separates those imagined crimes, and some of the crimes I think Cheney has probably actually comitted, is the identity of the victims. Which made me very uncomfortable.

I do agree that it only makes sense to focus on Cheney. And that one would need evidence of specific involvement in specific crimes to do that. I am quite convinced of his involvement in gross violations of the law, but a lot of the evidence for it is circumstantial, or comes from anonymous sources--and there's so many gaps, really in what we know.

But there are gaps because the administration is keeping the evidence secret. They are defying Congressional subpoenas for it; & using state secrets privilege in civil cases and a corrupt Justice Department in criminal cases to keep it from ever being revealed in a court proceeding. Successfully.

So what's the remedy when you think the executive branch has committed crimes & classified the evidence? One option--the one I favored until this week--was waiting until their term expired, counting on a Democratic presidential candidate being elected, & pressuring the Democratic candidates to promise that if elected, we will get a full accounting of what happened. Either through a special prosecutor, or an independent comission.

But while I think we'll win in 2008, we might not. What then? Then we have what amount to a loaded gun lying around for the next Republican President.

And even if we do win, I have close to no confidence in either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama promising & delivering a thorough investigation of this administration's abuses of power. The only way I can imagine it happening is serious pressure from primary voters.

I've been trying to get in touch with Obama and Edwards campaigns about this, but I'm not having any luck. I also thought of writing a blog post on the need to pressure the Democratic candidates to promise a thorough, independent investigation into the detainee abuse & NSA wiretapping issues--but really, how many people would have paid attention? Close to none.

So there I was, trying to resign myself to the idea that we would never, ever learn what happened, which would make it impossible to take strong measures to prevent it from happening again. And then I discover that my entire family and a majority of voters favors impeachment hearings.

"the idea in Congress and the press that supporting impeachment is a far left, lunatic fringe position."

Is this in fact the idea in Congress? Or even the press?


I agreed with Digby's recent take.

Opposing or supporting policies based on the political landscape rather than their merits implies that the political lanscape is fixed. Which it isn't. There's a relationship between the press, the Democratic party, and public opinion--they pull on each other. And it seems like liberal voters, our Congressional leadership, & the media sit around staring at each other, each party telling itself that it's not worth trying to forcefully challenge the administration because the other two don't support it. Meanwhile, an administration with a 30% approval rating and a vice president whom the majority of the country apparently thinks deserve to be impeached continues to do whatever the f*ck it wants.

Something's wrong with this picture.

I don't know. I think perhaps the thing to do is step back & examine the case on the merits thoroughly & figure out what I think about that first--& only then tie myself in knots worrying about the political consequences.

"Brett: do you honestly think that Clinton is "equally guilty"? Bush has violated the laws, on purpose, and on a much larger scale. (Wiretap program.)"

Indeed, I do think that; Clinton did an awful lot of things, in his capacity as President, that Democrats are in militant denial about. Like the perpetual IRS audits of organizations on the right, privacy act violations, the malicious prosecution of Billy Dale...

Don't confuse the meager charges that were actually brought with the bill of particulars that COULD have been brought against him, if Republican leaders hadn't been pissing in their pants as a result of the "Ellen Romstsch" strategy.

Think Bush isn't willing to reach into the FBI archives, too? If an impeachment happens, you're gonna be as disappointed as I was, your leaders aren't any more immune to blackmail than the Republicans' were.

Ignoring the politics then, the Democrats would have to assemble a case against Cheney (since he has to go first, and presumably he's the real power and problem in the administration anyway). But that would be extremely hard given the time constraints and the OVP's secrecy. Presumably the fight would end up at the SC, then there would have to be an investigation, then hearings, then impeachment proceedings - and with the next election less than 1.5 years away, isn't it too late? And, if it's not a political question, wouldn't a lot of this go through Lieberman's committee?

Impeachment is the only method of investigation that will overcome the regime's ability to stonewall. The crimes that have been committed and the unconstitutional expansion of executive powers demand investigation and accountability, unless everyone in the country is just fine with handing those same unlimited powers over to a Democratic administration, and every administration from here on out.

Impeachment does not have to 'succeed' (conviction in the Senate) to succeed -- in uncovering the scope and targets of the warrantless domestic eavesdropping, in achieving a public consensus that signing statements do not have the force of law (and certainly cannot be used to reverse Congressional action by executive fiat), in revealing the administration's manipulation of intelligence in misleading the country into war, in turning the Justice Department into an electoral arm of the Republican Party.

Gonzales and Cheney first. Then the man who hired and enabled them.

Nell: "Impeachment is the only method of investigation that will overcome the regime's ability to stonewall."

I don't understand - what would be different? If anything, I would think there'd be less political pressure on Cheney to divulge information in such an adversarial setting.

TUI. In my 8:12 comment above, the end of the second paragraph should be "in detailing how the administration turned the Justice Dept....."

@rilkefan: IANAL, but my understanding is that it is much easier for Congress to compel testimony in an impeachment investigation than in the regular course of committee oversight.

Perhaps one of the lawyers here could shed light on this.

In response to togolosh and hilzoy: Why not remove Bush before Cheney? Cheney's already in charge. Take the puppet off his hand, and make him the figurehead for the lowlifes running the executive branch.

While impeaching Bush/Chaney might be a "good thing" anyone who pushes for this needs to remember a couple of things. First, as far as the GOP leadership (both elected & talk media) are concerned impeachment is totally a political act. Of the three impeachment proceedings of Presidents two have been for simple partisan reasons. Now a days it is accepted history that the Radical Republicans impeached Andrew Johnson for political reason. As for the Clinton impeachment, I have faith that history will uphold my position that impeaching him for lying about a non-material fact, in a moot case, was a great act of political hubris.

We should also keep in mind that the GOP, Neocons, and the conservative talk media all see an political Armageddon in the '08. They would dearly love anything that could be used to not talk about what they have been up to in this administration and I can think of nothing better for them. Remember Authoritarians, Right Wing Authoritarian Followers like to define themselves as being attacked. It would be very easy for the Right controlled media to play the impeachment as "just getting even for what the righteous did to Clinton".

Finally, and most importantly, lets not forget all of the actual, chargeable crimes that have been committed by Bush/Chaney et al. What really needs to get done is get all of these acts out in the light of day and that can only be done if we are not distracted by a futile impeachment. I know not what other want but I want to see the people who have destroyed my countries reputation doing hard time, not just loosing the job.

Q: Does a V.P. who has to serve hard time still get Secret Service protection in prison?

Also @rilkefan: What time constraints?

@Jim Daniel:

Our court system moves way too slowly, and restricting the "high crimes and misdemeanors" solely to the sorts of crimes that are prosecutable goes against the intent of the framers.

The only kind of investigation that's going to get results is that connected with impeachment.

I appreciate Digby's argument, a lot. She makes excellent sense, as usual. It's just that I don't think I can live with myself so comfortably if I decline to push for what the appropriate remedy in fact is, to help get it started, and then see how to engineer the back end to match. I know that an unsuccessful impeachment attempt would likely do harm to the Democrats' prospects in 2008, but...gah. See Bruce. See Bruce feel conflicted.

I'd build an impeachment case for Cheney on the secrecy and obstruction. That's well within the constitutional brief for impeachment as I understand it.

"my understanding is that it is much easier for Congress to compel testimony in an impeachment investigation than in the regular course of committee oversight."

That would put things in a different light.

Post-impeaching the president however sounds like an incredibly bad idea to me - maybe if new stuff came out afterwards and the public was outraged, but otherwise it'd look purely political and petty.

Hil,

It's usually best to avoid arguments with people who have access to facts you don't. Mr. Bellmore has Known Facts on his side that show, no matter how bad a crockpot GWB makes of things, Clinton Was Worse.

"@rilkefan: IANAL, but my understanding is that it is much easier for Congress to compel testimony in an impeachment investigation than in the regular course of committee oversight."

I have heard this too. If true it'd push me off the fence but I don't know the basis (which isn't to say it doesn't exist--I just don't know the law in this area).

"It hinges on the little known fact that the Speaker doesn't have to be a House Member..."

Say what?

The claim seems to be here, and is based on the Wikipedia phrasing:

The Constitution provides that the House may choose its own Speaker. Although not explicitly required by the Constitution, every Speaker has been a member of the House.
This is, to be sure, true, but the notion that therefore the Senate and House would find it sensible and agreeable for the House to elect a non-member to the position of Speaker solely so the chosen Speaker can ascend to the White House isn't one that seems remotely likely to me. I expect most would think it too radical and out-of-a-novel, and that they'd think that, moreover, their constituents would be apt to think that, and thus the Representatives and Senators wouldn't be remotely apt to proceed with such a plan.

But, hey, maybe you're right. I don't think it would be wise to hold your breath awaiting proof of that, though.

A household member just caused my laptop to drop from a height of four feet. It appears to be dead.

I'm using the other computer for the moment, but can only stay on long enough to say I won't be able to stay on this thread, although I am very, very interested in the subject.

Hope to be able to check in tomorrow.

Now must go have very stiff g&t.

Nell - that's my nightmare, now that the baby is standing up. Perhaps something's just loose though.

I think if the impeachment-aids-investigation thing were true I'd have seen it at Daily Kos, though there must be 100s of kilowords on the subject there.

"Q: Does a V.P. who has to serve hard time still get Secret Service protection in prison?"

You wouldn't still be V.P. and serving time; as ex-VP, it would be up to the current president to determine; routinely, ex-VPs currently don't still get Secret Service protection; only ex-Presidents, and that only if desired, as I recall.

Why is it that we all assume that impeachment is politically risky insofar as it weakens Dems in 2008? Despite public opinion on the Clinton impeachment, can there really be any doubt that the GOP benefited in the 2000 elections b/c Gore was forced to distance himself from Clinton in campaigning, and the GOP was able to run on their "restoring values to the WH" mantra?

Imagine that we could get enough support in the House to start impeachment hearings -- a big if -- and that the investigation would somehow have enough teeth to get around WH attempts to stonewall -- another if. Slowly but surely, some of the truth about this administration's actions will start trickling out. The media will start to cover it. People will start to pay attention. Sooner or later, House and Senate Republicans will have to either break with the party or come out in support of a manifestly criminal administration. Given the GOP flight from Bush at the moment, I doubt any Republican in Congress thinks they would come out ahead in this scenario.

Maybe I've been watching too many West Wing reruns but I just don't think that this is necessarily as politically risky as I used to.

If congress insists on getting administration files while working on an impeachment, and Cheney argues that the file are classified and can't be released to congress, congress might consider that grounds for impeachment right there.

Then they call up witnesses. The witnesses *can* choose to clam up or lie, thinking that Bush will prevent any consequences. But they might tell the truth. If some tell the truth and some lie, then there's the question of figuring out which are which. But if we get a democratic administration it will be pretty obvious in a couple of years which ones were lying, pardon or not. Maybe it turns out, some clam up and some tell the truth, and the liars stay out of it.

Also, one specific ground for impeachment is bribery. Depending, that might turn out easy to prove.

Brett Bellmore brings out an important point, though, about the Rometsch affair. In case anybody isn't tracking, here's what happened. JFK got involved with a married woman who may have been an east german spy. Hoover apparently blackmailed JFK over that. Republican legislators found out, and wanted to make it public and stage a big scandal. Apparently Hoover may have blackmailed them too, for other things. After all, as long as he had blackmail material on a lot of people he was powerful. If the people he was blackmailing started revealing each other's secrets, he lost his hold on them. At any rate Rometsch was deported and reportedly a Kennedy representative paid her a whole lot of money to keep quiet about it.

Under Hoover, the FBI was independent. They could spend their time getting blackmail material on anybody important rather than going after criminals, and nobody could suggest they change their priorities. But after Hoover died, it was less clear. Hoover was a rabid republican, and it was hard for FBI agents to prosper unless they were republicans. Since then there have been 5 FBI directors and 6 acting directors. Have they actually controlled the FBI? It depends. Each of them that the FBI collected blackmail material on presumably did not control the FBI. Democrats supervising a republican FBI presumably were not in control.

Presumably the FBI had blackmail info on Clinton. But some of it leaked to the GOP. And a former White House staffer turned ABC commentator claimed that the FBI had given Clinton's team 900+ documents on republican legislators and media figures etc, with the intention of releasing them if Clinton was impeached and thrown out of office. Sort of a moral doomsday device. He called it the "Ellen Rometsch strategy".

Now the FBI has a republican director, and presumably Bush could get lots of blackmail material on congressional democrats, and use it to prevent impeachment.

Of course, there's every reason to think Bush already had that information as of 2001 and this is why democrats have been so very passive for the last 6 years. And of course they've presumably been blackmailing republican legislators for just as long, to keep that party discipline going.

Does it make sense for the first democrat who stands up to them and gets exposed to talk about the blackmail? I don't know. I haven't noticed it happen, ever, since Hoover first got control.

Is blackmail an impeachable offense?

Has anyone looked at the articles voted out of committee against Nixon?

Article I, the obstruction of justice article, is relevant on seven of its nine sections today.

Article III, the contempt of Congress one, will be relevant by Labor Day.

Does anybody else wonder at how rare presidential impeachments are? Need they be so rare? And if so, why? There seems to be a huge bias against using the impeachment power at all, as evidenced by how unthinkable it has seemed to use it against our current POTUS and VPOTUS, who, it seems to me, are exemplary, textbook candidates for it. If you don't impeach them, then whomever *do* you impeach? I think you have to use it or you lose it - in this case, render the power meaningless.

That said, I've always liked the idea of impeaching several officials, startings smaller, with Gonzales. Then move on to Cheney and Bush. You don't want impeachment to be routine, but you also don't want it to be merely a vanishingly rare brute political act, as it really was for both Johnson and Clinton. It's a perfectly good mechanism put into the Constitution for a reason. Impeach for cause. Presidents don't really fear it much, and they should.

Yes, impeach both Bush and Cheney. Impeach the idea of the imperial/unitary executive, for all presidents. Hopefully, impeach and remove these two so they can't be pardoned. But at least impeach. It doesn't matter how long it takes - longer might even be better - and whether they are convicted or not might not be as important as one might think.

Gingrich/DeLay-type Republicans should have been careful about what they wished for, but it's too late now. If you trivialize impeachment, dream up the 'nuclear option', behave like a parliamentary party, etc. - IOW, seriously alter political institutions in this country - you have to be prepared to live with what you've wrought. Deliberately destroy consensus and 'comity'? Don't expect them to float back to the surface when the tide turns.

Probably no modern president has been blameless, including Clinton - but his impeachment was bogus. Clinton had his little affair 'because he could'. The House impeached him because 'they could'. It's CW that the Clinton impeachment somehow forestalls an impeachment of Bush/Cheney, but I think it's the opposite: because the Clinton impeachment was bogus, all the more reason - politically speaking - to do it when it's really warranted. Contrast. The Clinton impeachment was unpopular not because impeachment in the abstract is unpopular, but because Clinton himself was popular, and people knew it was bogus (I think Digby makes this point).

I worry less than some about impeachment derailing the Dems legislative agenda - they aren't going to get much passed no matter what; Senate Republicans are oddly fond of the filibuster again now that they are in the minority.

I can say what I want, and let Obama worry about his election chances.

Is someone harshing your mellow? I mean, you have written pretty plainly on these things. I don’t understand what you mean. If you are about to break loose and tell us what you really think, where you haven’t before, I need to go offline just to avoid burning out my phone line…

I think maybe Gonzales is the loose thread that they could pull on to unravel this whole mess. If the goal of an impeachment is to get all of this perfidy out in the open and send a message that it won't be allowed to stand, well, he was in the middle of almost all of it. He's also already made it abundantly clear that he's a total stooge, he's very unsympathetic and not exactly masterful enough to defend himself well, and people on both sides of the aisle hold him in enough contempt that it might well be possible to win a vote. Best of all, you've got some clearly illegal conduct that he was central to, that is also emblematic of the sort of corruption and disregard for the law that defines this administration, and that he obviously lied about in front of Congress the first time around. In any sane political environment, he would have been forced to resign long ago. If he won't jump off the cliff, why not give him a push? It'd be less of a circus than going after the POTUS or VPOTUS, while still retaining most of the potential for stopping the stonewalling and restoring some transparency and accountability.

I've been thinking about Digby's objection to launching impeachment proceedings when there are good reasons to believe they cannot succeed. I'm not sure this is an answer to it; I'm not sure it isn't. I'd welcome some comment on where and how my thinking remains muddled or is clarifying, as may be.

The media establishment and the commentariat will not treat Democratic activity fairly, under any circumstances I can foresee, during the duration of the Bush administration. I don't think this is hyperbolic or unreasonable as a conclusion, in light of everything that's happened since the 2000 campaign. They will use convenient facts to support a narrative of Democratic unfitness, but when the facts are inconvenient, they will proceed anyway. Contradictions and outright absence of supporting data are demonstrably irrelevant to the process of reporting and commentating, as a regular thing. Any exceptions to this generalization are just that, generalization.

Now, obviously, it'd be nice to efforts at restoring the rule of law and competent government reported honestly. But it'd be nice to have a lot of things we don't have. The families of a million dead Iraqis would like their loved ones back, and they won't get that, either, nice as it would be.

So.

Despite the problems with reporting and commentating, the public at large is doing a surprisingly (to me) good job of figuring out what's going on and what ought to be done about it. First on the despicable war and occupation, and now on despicable presidential and vice-presidential conduct on other matters, the public's getting it despite efforts to feed them malarky. They are managing to filter what's handed to them, develop alternative channels of information, whatever it takes. So we have reason to believe that facts about national politics can make it out despite efforts at the top to suppress, distort, or reinterpret them.

If refraining from impeachment would get us fair coverage of other issues, it might be worth refraining. If there were no hope of the public learning what's going on with impeachment, it might well not be worth proceeding. But neither of these things is true. Lies and misrepresentation will continue, and the public will continue learning more of the truth anyway.

It seems to me worth proceeding even though at this time I can't expect the effort to end in success.

The one main advantage of impeachment would be the block of a pardon. Is anybody here not expecting Bush to grant pardons by the score at the end of his term (provided there is no coup d'etat)?
Impeachment could be just the first step anyway. The really important thing would be to burn out the cancer of this administration by getting out everything in public for all to see. Nuremberg, the Sequel NOW (including previous administrations too)!

But I see no chance of anything of that happen (except for Bushs pardons).

"Mr. Bellmore has Known Facts on his side that show, no matter how bad a crockpot GWB makes of things, Clinton Was Worse."

Leaving aside the ritualistic chant of "neener neener!", how do you get "Clinton was Worse." out of "equally guilty"?

Their offenses were, of course, different. Clinton abused the powers of his office for self-gratification and to attack political enemies, Bush at least appears to be attacking our civil liberties, and expanding the power of the Executive, for policy reasons. But their guilt is about equally obvious.

J. Thomas, what a remarkably muddled memory of Filegate you have; You've managed to make Clinton the victim in his own scandal! Of the existence of the considerably more than 900 files there is no doubt whatsoever; The only question is whether you take seriously the excuse they came up with for why they HAD all those files. For my part, hiring PIs to supliment the material after their access to FBI files was being watched pretty much spiked the excuse that it was an accident.

.......

By all means, impeach Cheney first, you'd be fools to do otherwise; Republicans will put up less of a fight, and what exactly is the point of removing Bush in order to put Cheney in his place?

how do you get "Clinton was Worse." out of "equally guilty"?

Just an observation, but usually, saying that someone committed the same or comparable sin _before_ the second person is generally a suggestion that the first person was worse by virtue of order. Of course, in some cases, you should give credit for being first and acknowledging originality, but I don't think you were suggesting that.

I'm not claiming Clinton was worse, in fact, Bush is probably doing more damage to our civil liberties, just because Clinton's offenses were so blatantly self-serving nobody was likely to try to claim they were legitimate. I mean, who is going around claiming that siccing the IRS on your political enemies is a legitimate, constitutionally mandated Executive branch privilege?

In that sense, Bush is more like FDR, whose policy motivated usurpations of power were adopted by subsequent administrations, and Clinton is more like Nixon, whose blatantly political abuses didn't become SOP. This is, from my perspective, a really damning thing to say about Bush.

I'm merely pointing out that you'd, today, be in a much better position to credibly attempt to impeach the President, if your response to Clinton's offenses hadn't been (And wasn't still!) reflexive partisan defense and denial. Nobody is going to buy for a second that this isn't political, because there was talk about impeaching Bush before he did anything to merit it.

Even the guilty can be railroaded, and that's what impeaching Bush would be a case of.

In any event, the whole question is moot, because you haven't got time to impeach him before he's out of office, and you haven't made effort one to build the kind of bipartisan case against him that would be necessary to peel off enough Republican members to make the effort successful.

Brett: I mean, who is going around claiming that siccing the IRS on your political enemies is a legitimate, constitutionally mandated Executive branch privilege?

Bush & Co certainly would. That's their metier.

Besides, Brett, Bill Clinton is no longer President. There is no point in waving at what Clinton did when he was President, unless you seek to justify what Bush has done by reference to what a past President also did. It's not a question of whether or not you support Clinton: it's directly and clearly a question of whether you are willing to support Bush through his crimes, or whether you feel he should be impeached for them.

"Bush & Co certainly would. That's their metier."

Oh, really? Then produce liberal groups that are being subject to endless IRS audits. Because there was no shortage, during the Clinton years, of conservative groups getting that treatment. AND an admission in court that it was at White house instigation.

"Besides, Brett, Bill Clinton is no longer President. There is no point in waving at what Clinton did when he was President, unless you seek to justify what Bush has done by reference to what a past President also did."

For better or worse, Jes, you end up with the credibility you earn. That, like it or not, makes the past relevant to the present. I am, pointedly NOT justifying what Bush has done, I am merely pointing out that the past behavior of Democrats has rendered getting bipartisan support for impeachment improbable.

Then produce liberal groups that are being subject to endless IRS audits.

I can produce liberal groups that are being subjected to warrantless wiretapping, and opposition candidates who have been subjected to federal investigation by US Attorneys. Which powers Bush & Co have claimed are entirely legal and constitutional. And which, unlike your claims for unwarranted IRS audits by Clinton, are current issues.

I am merely pointing out that the past behavior of Democrats has rendered getting bipartisan support for impeachment improbable.

Wow, that's a piece of self-serving crap. You're seriously claiming that it's the Democrats fault that Republicans will now not tolerate the idea of a Republican President being impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors? Yeah, right. If you think criminal behavior by a President ought not to be tolerated, don't whine that in the past you think the other party tolerated too much misbehavior from a President of their party.

(Oh, and via Avedon's Sideshow: Do It Yourself Impeachment.

In any event, the whole question is moot, because you haven't got time to impeach him before he's out of office

who says he has to be in office to be impeached ?

Yes, Jes, I am seriously claiming that, if Democrats had shown an ounce of concern with whether Clinton was actually guilty, if you even showed it TODAY, you might have the credibility to convince the necessary people on the margin that impeaching Bush wasn't purely political.

As it is, you've convincingly demonstrated that you don't give a damn about guilt or innocence where partisan politics are involved, and this poisons your efforts to go after Bush. Because everybody knows you're only doing it to avenge Clinton, and would be going after Bush even if you thought he was innocent.

Expect us to forget there was talk of impeaching the next Republican President, before he was even elected? I haven't forgotten that.

I don't doubt you think he's guilty. I do doubt that his guilt is why you're going after him.

Brett: if Democrats had shown an ounce of concern with whether Clinton was actually guilty, if you even showed it TODAY

Not a Democrat. And distinctly unimpressed by people who bring up "Hey, look at Clinton" as a distraction from talking about crimes committed by the current President.

, you might have the credibility to convince the necessary people on the margin that impeaching Bush wasn't purely political.

If the fact that Bush has bragged of committing multiple federal felonies is not enough to convince people that he ought to be impeached, they are not "people on the margin": they're part of Bush's loyal 29%.

I don't doubt you think he's guilty. I do doubt that his guilt is why you're going after him.

Given that you are unwilling to "go after him" even though you believe he's guilty of offenses that merit impeachment, it's absolutely clear your unwillingness to impeach is frankly political, which makes your attempts to traduce people who support his impeachment frankly hypocritical.

So does anyone want to argue that it's not warranted on the merits?

I do doubt you care all that much about the constitution. You don't seem to see the difference between Paula Jones/Monica Lewinski, the cases on the basis of which they actually tried to impeach him, and the relentless undermining of the constitution by Bush/Cheney. The case against Clinton was weak, the case against Bush/Cheney is strong, and pursuing it is actually in the public as opposed to merely partisan interest.

erm, that was in response to Brett

I'm perfectly willing to go after him, indeed I'd be delighted if you started impeachment hearings next Monday. If nothing else, it would keep Congressional Democrats from accomplishing anything on the legislative front, and I think that Bush has committed acts with are perfectly justifiable cause for impeachment. As has every President from Reagan on.

I just don't think you can do it, given Congressional trust levels that are, incredibly, lower than Bush's, limited time, and a total lack of bipartisan support.

But, try. Please. Who knows, lightning might strike, you might encounter something that would enrage Republicans enough to make impeachment feasible.

Now, don't expect to hear from me again for a week, I'm off to the Sleeping Bear dunes for a week of hiking and cannoeing.

Impeachment proceedings ARE merited on substantive grounds for both Bush and Cheney but I would be quite happy with Cheney. By taking him out you take out THE point man on the "unitary executive" nonsense that places the Prez (and VP) above and beyond the law and Constitution. THAT is the important idea to kill (and all the illegal and immoral acts that have followed from that idea). Take out Cheney and the Bush Admin is totally deflated and defanged for the rest of his term, starting with the beginnings of impeachment...so get cracking NOW.

It would inject real terror into the Admin, totally demoralized them, and send the neocon-riddled GOP into a tailspin of self-consuming insanity.

Actually, Bush, Cheney, and Gonzales should be impeached but in actuality, going for Cheney is THE best move with the biggest overall payoff.

So does anyone want to argue that it's not warranted on the merits?

My problem is that I’m not sure about the merits. To some extent I think at least a good part of the public has become desensitized to saying Bush did this illegal thing or committed this crime… It has been going on for six years. I’m probably not explaining this very well, but the repeated accusations with no actual follow up has left some people with the impression it is mostly rhetoric.

I think that if there is strong evidence of crimes and it was presented to the public in the right way there would be overwhelming support for it. I would support it anyway.

I have a hard time with President Cheney though. I think that is the strongest argument for not impeaching Bush. So you’d have to impeach Cheney first. But who could Bush possibly nominate to replace him that would pass both houses by a majority? With Democrats in control, if the next step was to impeach Bush, who would they confirm knowing that person might soon be the president?

"But who could Bush possibly nominate to replace him that would pass both houses by a majority?"

Powell, Hagel, Bush père, Baker, John Warner, Lugar, Rudman, ...

Who should replace Cheney? Lieberman. Joe Lieberman. The Dems could offer him as an "acceptable" compromise candidate. It would feed Lieberman's ego, which is the only thing he has, it would take him out of the senate forever, it would end his political career forever, it would NOT change the overall vote pattern of the current senate, and he would be replaced with Ned Lamont or an even better candidate in the next special election. Until then, the Dems can live with a R-governor appointee who would vote the same as Lieberman anyway...and the control of the senate would NOT change in the meantime (that isn't how it works).

Brett B.: Because everybody knows you're only doing it to avenge Clinton

Right. It has nothing at all to do with lying the country into a war; or establishing a policy of kidnaping, secret prisons, and torture; or turning the Justice Department into an arm of the Republican Party; or handing over billions to cronies in war profiteering contracts; or warrantless spying on American citizens; or ... {there's more, but that'll do}

Huzzah, Praedor; very elegant solution.

I'm perfectly willing to go after him, indeed I'd be delighted if you started impeachment hearings next Monday. If nothing else, it would keep Congressional Democrats from accomplishing anything on the legislative front, and I think that Bush has committed acts with are perfectly justifiable cause for impeachment. As has every President from Reagan on.

Oh, please, Brett...that's just another version of Clinton did, too.

That doesn't fly. It isn't true. It reduces politics to simple-minded partisan rhetoric. And it does NOTHING to elevate either the rhetoric or performance of politicians.

I’m probably not explaining this very well, but the repeated accusations with no actual follow up has left some people with the impression it is mostly rhetoric.

Some people might think so, esp. since the MSM will flog it that way. Other people, though, might think the lack of follow-up had something to do with the GOP controlling both Houses of Congress for most of the past 6 years.

As much as I would love to see Bush-Cheney tossed out of office, and as much as I would appreciate seeing them in the dock at an international tribune, I'm mostly concerned with the damage they can still do in the next 18 months. I'm extremely concerned with what they'll do from November 2008 to January 2009 if a Democrat wins the Presidency.

Would impeachment proceedings rein them in at all? It's a tough question. They don't seem to care what their actions do to the GOP. Even if the GOP sees itself about to become a permanent minority Party, and sends a delegation to the White House (as it did in 1974), it's a good bet the Administration will tell them to go Cheney themselves. Hell, in 1974, Nixon was at least considering declaring martial law... and this time, there's no one in the WH to say "No!"

I wonder if that consideration has occurred to the Democrats in Congress. Maybe they're worried about what Bush-Cheney would do if push came to shove.

Four questions:

What distinguishes impeachment from criminal prosecution or civil action?

Are Cheney and Bush colorably guilty of things that they could not do, if they did not hold the office which they hold?

Was Clinton colorably guilty of things that he could not do, if he did not hold the office which he held?

What's a 'high crime'?

Impeachment is criminal prosecution for Presidents (and, presumably, Vice Presidents). Impeachment is also political, in that it goes nowhere if there's no political will to see it though.

Also, IIRC, the Executive is immune from civil prosecution (Clinton was sued for things allegedly done before he was President). So, no dice there.

I think "high crime" refers to treason. Possibly murder, though it would be hard to prove unless the President (or Vice President) was caught literally red-handed. Other "high crimes" in law - conspiracy to murder, abduction, serious assault, etc. - a President would give orders to carry out (as in war, intelligence operations, interrogations) as governmental policy, which carries a lot of immunity from prosecution.

"Misdemeanor" is a more interesting category. In law, a misdemeanor is any offence carrying a penalty of less than one year in jail. By strict dictionary definition, a misdemeanor is also defined as "an instance of misbehavior; misdeed." I don't know which one applies to impeachable offenses. Presumably, one could impeach a President or Vice President for DUI. I think the Framers meant "misdemeanor" to include malfeasance, which is a very broad category, from corruption to incompetence. Bush could easily be impeached under that definition of "misdemeanor."

J. Thomas, what a remarkably muddled memory of Filegate you have; You've managed to make Clinton the victim in his own scandal!

And why not? Clinton was eminently blackmailable. Why wouldn't the FBI do that? They have a long history of doing that.

A former Clinton supporter announced that Clinton was ready to reveal FBI blackmail material on on lots of republicans as a last resort, if they torpedoed him. And they backed down. Clearly this is a scandal for Clinton and a scandal for about a thousand republicans. For the good of the nation all the information should have been made public. Every public official or legislator who's subject to blackmail is a security risk. They can be blackmailed by *everybody* who knows their dirty secret.

Of *course* Clinton was the victim. He was the main one who had a secret alreay revealed. He was getting impeached. Only one of the others got exposed. But his own counter-blackmail threat got revealed on national TV leaving him looking bad.

How can you spin this and *not* have Clinton a victim?

I am seriously claiming that, if Democrats had shown an ounce of concern with whether Clinton was actually guilty, if you even showed it TODAY, you might have the credibility to convince the necessary people on the margin that impeaching Bush wasn't purely political.

Interesting. You're saying that the people on the margin care more about the motives of the prosecutors than about the actual crimes.

Obviously 30% or so of the public will excuse Bush anything, up to and including sodomising little puppy dogs on the White House lawn. They are not the margin. And some senators have those people for 60% or so of their constituency. They are not the margin either.

But you're seriously suggesting that people on the margin will disapprove an impeachment that turns up truly important crimes, because they think that far-left democrats have impure motives? How very peculiar!

for things allegedly done before he was President). So, no dice there.

I remember a 9-0 Supreme Court decision to the contrary.....

Brett: Like the perpetual IRS audits of organizations on the right, privacy act violations, the malicious prosecution of Billy Dale...

Brett, you've been wrong every single time you've brought up Clinton's supposed crimes and I've produced the documents to prove it. I'm too busy right now to deal with this recurrent mendacity but seriously, for the love of God: would you actually learn about these things before you spout off? Sheesh.

As to Bush and Cheney's impeachment: I've argued for over three years now that they've committed impeachable offenses as basically a variant on the Reagan Dilemma. Either they deliberately lied the American public into war -- which is clearly impeachable -- or they were so derelict in their duties as to constitute criminal negligence. They are also clearly guilty of obstruction of justice, by which I also include the ascertaining of what, precisely, their crimes have been. Either way, as a moral matter, both Bush and Cheney (and possibly the entirety of their little cabal) need to be hauled up on charges and dispensed with.

If you're asking me as a political matter, I don't really have an opinion except to say that sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do what's right, not just politically "correct". Further, I suspect that regardless of the polling today, the majority of the American public will turn on the Administration once the light shines on their vast and rotten heart.

Brett: I've been meaning to check out your allegations since you posted them; I hadn't heard of Billy Dale, for instance, so it seemed like a good idea to find out. Now I've finally got a bit of time, so I'm going to do that. But first, the IRS audit one is the easiest: here (pdf) is a report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, chaired at the time by two Republicans, that finds no credible evidence to back up the allegations of politically motivated audits, or politically motivated anything.

I'm not sure which "privacy allegations" you're referring to, so that will be harder to check. In a minute, I'll google Billy Dale.

"Impeachment is criminal prosecution for Presidents (and, presumably, Vice Presidents)."

Er, no, that's entirely wrong, I'm afraid.

Criminal prosecution of the President or Vice President can only be started after impeachment and conviction by Congress. Congress itself has no power to impose criminal penalties.

As Wikipedia accurately states:

[...] Conviction requires a two-thirds majority. The Senate may vote thereafter to punish the individual only by removing her or him from office, or by barring her or him from holding future office, or both. Alternatively, it may impose no punishment. But in the case of executive officers, removal follows automatically upon conviction. The defendant remains liable to criminal prosecution.

I should have quoted the Constitution:

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
As regards this:
"Misdemeanor" is a more interesting category. In law, a misdemeanor is any offence carrying a penalty of less than one year in jail. By strict dictionary definition, a misdemeanor is also defined as 'an instance of misbehavior; misdeed.' I don't know which one applies to impeachable offenses.
The answer is "none of it." The phrasing in the constitution is a term of art, and has nothing whatever to do with the meaning of "misdeameanor" in law. In practice, it's purely a political term, as in essence, it means whatever Congress uses it to mean at the time it uses it. See here; there were about a billion articles on the top back in 1998 in particular.

Here is scholar Joseph Story in 1833, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States":

403. The next inquiry is, what are impeachable offences? They are "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours." For the definition of treason, resort maybe had to the constitution itself; but for the definition of bribery, resort is naturally and necessarily had to the common law; for that, as the common basis of our jurisprudence, can alone furnish the proper exposition of the nature and limits of this offence.

The only practical question is, what are to be deemed high crimes and misdemeanours? Now, neither the constitution, nor any statute of the United States, has in any manner defined any crimes, except treason and bribery, to be high crimes and misdemeanours, and as such impeachable. In what manner, then, are they to be ascertained? Is the silence of the statute book to be deemed conclusive in favour of the party, until congress have made a legislative declaration and enumeration of the offences, which shall be deemed high crimes and misdemeanors? If so, then, as has been truly remarked, the power of impeachment, except as to the two expressed cases, is a complete nullity; and the party is wholly dispunishable, however enormous may be his corruption or criminality. It will not be sufficient to say, that in the cases, where any offence is punished by any statute of the United States, it may, and ought to be, deemed an impeachable offence. It is not every offence, that by the constitution is so impeachable. It must not only be an offence, but a high crime and misdemeanour.
Besides; there are many most flagrant offences, which, by the statutes of the United States, are punishable only, when committed in special places, and within peculiar jurisdictions, as, for instance, on the high seas, or in forts, navy-yards, and arsenals, ceded to the United States. Suppose the offence is committed in some other, than these privileged places, or under circumstances not reached by any statute of the United States, would it be impeachable? §

404. Again, there are many offences, purely political, which have been held to be within the reach of parliamentary impeachments, not one of which is in the slightest manner alluded to in our statute book. And, indeed, political offences are of so various and complex a character, so utterly incapable of being defined or classified, that the task of positive legislation would be impracticable, if it were not almost absurd to attempt it. What, for instance, could positive legislation do in cases of impeachment, like the charges against Warren Hastings, in 1788? Resort, then, must be had either to parliamentary practice, and the common law, in order to ascertain, what are high crimes and misdemeanours; or the whole subject must be left to the arbitrary discretion of the senate, for the time being. The latter is so incompatible with the genius of our institutions, that no lawyer or statesman would be inclined to countenance so absolute a despotism of opinion and practice, which might make that a crime at one time, or in one person, which would be deemed innocent at another time, or in another person. The only safe guide in such cases must be the common law, which is the guardian at once of private rights and public liberties. §

405. Congress have unhesitatingly adopted the conclusion, that no previous statute is necessary to authorize an impeachment for any official misconduct; and the rules of proceeding, and the rules of evidence, as well as the principles of decision, have been uniformly regulated by the known doctrines of the common law and parliamentary usage. In the few cases of impeachment, which have hitherto been tried, no one of the charges has rested upon any statutable misdemeanour.
It seems, then, to be the settled doctrine of the high court of impeachment, that though the common law cannot be a foundation of a jurisdiction not given by the constitution, or laws, that jurisdiction, when given, attaches, and is to be exercised according to the rules of the common law ; and that, what are, and what are not high crimes and misdemeanours, is to be ascertained by a recurrence to that great basis of American jurisprudence.

406. As it is declared in one clause of the constitution, that "judgment, in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further, than a removal "from office, and disqualification to hold any office of "honour, trust, or profit, under the United States;" and in another clause, that "the president, vice-president, and all civil officers of the United States, shall "be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or "misdemeanours;" it would seem to follow, that the senate, on the conviction, were bound, in all cases, to enter a judgment of removal from office, though it has a discretion, as to inflicting the punishment of disqualification.

[...]

There is also much force in the remark, that an impeachment is a proceeding purely of a political nature. It isnot so much designed to punish an offender, as to secure the state against gross official misdemeanors. It touches neither his person, nor his property; but simply divests him of his political capacity.

There are endless more commentaries, both ancient and recent, available, which should render speculation unnecessary.

Got distracted, so no Billy Dale yet, but: CaseyL: Gary's right. At any rate, I found it a huge source of frustration when, during the Clinton impeachment, people kept saying: this is about whether or not the President is above the law. No it's not!, I kept saying to my TV. Prosecuting him once he leaves office is how you show he's not above the law! Impeachment is something else entirely!

It's always worth reading Justice Story.

Here's a bit from Martin v. Hunter's Lessee:

The constitution unavoidably deals in general language. It did not suit the purposes of the people, in framing this great charter of our liberties, to provide for minute specifications of its powers, or to declare the means by which those powers should be carried into execution. It was foreseen that this would be a perilous and difficult, if not an impracticable, task. The instrument was not intended to provide merely for the exigencies of a few years, but was to endure through a long lapse of ages, the events of which were locked up in the inscrutable purposes of Providence. It could not be foreseen what new changes and modifications of power might be indispensable to effectuate the general objects of the charter; and restrictions and specifications, which, at the present, might seem salutary, might, in the end, prove the overthrow of the system itself. Hence its powers are expressed in genetal terms, leaving to the legislature, from time to time, to adopt its own means to effectuate legitimate objects, and to mould and model the exercise of its powers, as its own wisdom, and the public interests, should require.

Wow. I've been trying to say that for years, only crappily. Thanks, CharleyCarp.

Wow, I finally read up on Billy Dale. I couldn't find any evidence of malicious prosecution. In fact, reading about it (for those of you who had forgotten, as I had, he was the head of the White House travel office) just left me remembering altogether too vividly all those stupid scandals of the 90s.

As I see the story, Billy Dale had been in the travel office forever. When the Clintons came in, they heard stories about financial irregularities, some of them from people who wanted to do the Clintons' travel arrangements themselves, and so had a conflict of interest. Had the Clintons just acted on this and fired the people, they would have been technically within their rights, but scummy: the people in the travel office serve at the pleasure of the President, so he can fire them.

But instead of just taking other people's word for it, they ordered an audit, which I think was exactly the right thing to do. The audit found serious financial irregularities, according to the GAO and to the special prosecutor's report. So then they fired the people responsible for those irregularities.

Whoop de do.

Could they have been more deft? Yes. Why wasn't Hillary Clinton more forthcoming about her role? I have no idea.

But is this a big scandal? No. Should it have been a scandal at all? No. I honestly don't get why hearing bad stuff about government employees, checking those allegations out, finding irregularities, and firing the people responsible for them is supposed to be bad.

Thus ends this attempt to be fair.

Happy to oblige.

Chief Justice Marshall was recused from the case, otherwise he'd have written the same thing, I'd bet. He certainly followed the same path three years later with M'Cullough v. Maryland.

Goofing around on Wiki, I see that Justice Breyer has the seat formerly occupied by Story. (Curtis, Holmes, Cardozo, Frankfurter had that seat as well).

And here, completely out of context, is a sentence of general utility from Justice Curtis' dissent in Dred Scott v. Sandford:

It would be a useless parade of learning for me to go over the ground which he has so fully and ably occupied.

..an impeachment is a proceeding purely of a political nature. It is not so much designed to punish an offender, as to secure the state against gross official misdemeanors.

This is basically right as far as it goes, but it bears clarification. The 'political' here refers to the remedy (removal) more than it does to what it is that needs the remedy. 'Political' doesn't mean 'partisan'. And I wouldn't quite say that impeachment doesn't punish - it bars the impeachee from "any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States", which is important in light of the recurrence of certain pardoned individuals lately; it's immune from the pardon power; and it doesn't preclude criminal or civil liability later. But no, it's not a criminal or civil judgement in itself.

The Clinton impeachment was partisan, not political, in the proper sense of that word. If the GOP bigwhigs *really* believed that cause for impeachment was whatever they said it was, simply because they might have had the votes, why were they so careful to back Clinton into the perjury trap?

I'm neither lawyer nor a constitutional scholar, but it doesn't take those credentials to see that the impeachment power's contours were left vague on purpose. There has to be some grey area, some flexibility, allowing for impeachment absent a high crime. But if impeachment is a political act (properly speaking), perjury about something utterly immaterial to politics (properly speaking) - an affair - is not the same as perjury or some other felony which is material to politics. You can't switch the meaning of 'politics' for convenience. (Brett doesn't seem to have had a theory today for why Clinton wasn't impeached for the 'real' reasons he cites.).

Concerning BushCo allegedly not using the IRS to go after liberals I think I remember there to be cases (before the last or 2004 election) of churches threatened with withdrawal of tax exempt status for allegedly promoting Dems (on very shaky evidence at best). Openly partisan churches on the right were not treated that way. I also think I remember that some "inconvenient" groups digging up dirt about the administration were IRSed repeatedly in what looked like harassment. Can't provide a link at the moment.
Personally I suspect that it is a SOP for administrations independent of party differing only in the degree of blatantness.

Got a chance to log in at my sister's house, before we load up the van, and I just can't leave Hilzoy's remarks without comment.

Congrats, Hilzoy, you have accurately recounted the administration's version of what happened. You may now attempt to explain why, with all this evidence against Dale, the jury returned with an aquittal in just under two hours.

The scandal was not, BTW, the firing. It was the subsequent prosecution to justify firings they were entitled to do without cause that was the real scandal.

Ironicly, it was the White House's improperly obtaining Dale's FBI files months afterwards that led to the discovery of all those FBI files they'd been collecting. Funny how these things work out.

You may now attempt to explain why, with all this evidence against Dale, the jury returned with an aquittal in just under two hours.

Dale was represented by F. Lee Bailey or Johnny Cochrane?

Brett, I see that given ten minutes Internet time, you return to a tactic that has become standard among Republicans: focus on scandals more than a decade old as an excuse for not being outraged at the crimes committed by the current President.

It's obvious and it's petty and it's kind of stupid, but it works: people react to your old news, rather than pointing out, "Clinton isn't President any more: Bush is. Why don't you want to talk about the current President, the one you voted for, Brett?"

You may now attempt to explain why, with all this evidence against Dale, the jury returned with an aquittal in just under two hours.

Let's ask OJ instead.

Bush should be impeached for ruining our reputation around the world and alienating us from our traditional allies.


Like this guy that was admired by many:

French authorities are close to charging De Villepin and others with conspiring to produce forged documents to falsely implicated new French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a bribery scandal. According to reports, the so-called "Clearstream affair":

The scandal, under investigation since 2005, involves forged bank records that suggested falsely that Mr Sarkozy and other senior figures had received big bribes in the sale of French warships to Taiwan.

It appears that Mr. de Villepin, probably with the full knowledge of former president Jacques Chirac, worked with a member of the French version of the CIA to produce and circulate forged bank documents which would have supported the false claim against Sarkozoy.

Brett: oddly, I thought I was citing the GAO and the independent prosecutor, the one who took over after Kenneth Starr. I was actually taking some pains not to rely on the administration's view of things. It seemed to me that the financial irregularities detailed in both these sources made a prosecution reasonable. I am open to evidence that it was (a) not, and (b) somehow directed by the Clintons, but not having found that evidence myself, I'll have to wait for some links from you.

Bu..Bu.Bu.But what about Clinton?!!!
Its the medias, the libral media....duuuhhhr!

It must be nice living through life with blinders. Yeah, the last seven years has been a blast and void of scandal and corruption. Obviously, with their pal scooter, Repugs think perjury is a-OK unless it involves a blow-job. So go ahead re-live 1999 over and over again while the rest of us move on.

Screw impeachment, I want criminal trials for capital crimes!!

This knee-jerk "Clinton did it too!" defense long ago got old. Even if the impeachment of Clinton had the same gravitas as the charges that could easily be leveled against Bush and Cheney (it didn't), that doesn't matter. Even if some liberals are looking at this as a chance for revenge against the GOP (an unprovable partisan republican talking point if there ever was one), that doesn't matter.

What matters is that Cheney and Bush are criminals who have repeatedly lied to us and to Congress, obstructed justice, undermined the Constitution, undermined our national security, and violated their oaths of office. All this talk about Clinton's "crimes" and "scandals" and how liberals aren't being "fair" or "consistent" is bogus sophistry that tries to distract us from the real issues facing us. The merits of the case are clear, they have been for years, and no amount of yammering about Clinton can or will change that. No matter how the appologists try to spin it, this is not some fantasy of ex-post-facto justice for Clinton. This is about real high crimes and misdemeanors which Bush and Cheney have committed, and in some cases *proudly admitted to committing*.

Cheney should be impeached, immediately. I don't particularly care about Bush after that; it would be a nice "so there" punctuation mark to get him too, but letting him serve out his lame duck term without his biggest nudge helping him would be quite satisfying. Then he would have a front-row seat to the show of watching his legacy be dismantled around him.

I want this because they are criminals who have no place in our government. That is all that matters. That is the bottom line.

"Does anybody else wonder at how rare presidential impeachments are? Need they be so rare?"

I've argued for years that we've let impeachment of the executive and judicial branches fall too far into disuse. There isn't anything wrong with a politicized impeachment, that is why we have the 2/3 requirement. And there are plenty of judges, justices and executive branch members who should have been impeached for abuse of power.

I have every confidence that Brett is busy scouring the info-sphere for evidence to shore up his argument.

If that fails I recommend lipstick.

Travelgate? you guys are rehashing Travelgate ???

holy crap Brett, that was a fabulous derailment.

I agree with Sebastian. Impeachment should be more frequent than it is. But then I believe in the value of used threats, in some contexts.

cleek: holy crap Brett, that was a fabulous derailment.

But, cleek, it's just not right to discuss how guilty Bush is without allowing the loyal Republicans who do not want to think about how guilty Bush is to derail the discussion into the alleged crimes of a man who isn't President any more. Clinton always comes first!

(Now do not be suspecting me of a pun, I intreat.)

Via Sideshow: Charles Pierce at Media Matters:

Moreover, no matter how often the pundits and Important Reporters told me the whole thing was too complicated for anyone to understand, I believed that selling missiles to Islamic crazoids in order to help finance our own Central American crazoids in defiance both open and covert of the laws and the Constitution was worth sending a whole lot of somebodies to the sneezer. I believed it was worth bringing down a president, just so no other president would ever again hire fly-by-night think-tank cowboys to sell the country's soul wholesale to grifters like Manucher Ghorbanifar.
Past crimes it would be relevant to discuss.

Past crimes it would be relevant to discuss.

See Sean Wilentz's Op-Ed in todays NYT...

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad