There's talk of impeachment making the rounds these days ... and it's not just partisan hyperbole. As Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky explain in their new book, The Case for Impeachment, the legal argument for removing George W. Bush from office is clear, present, and urgent. However, for those seeking peace and justice, there are two reasons why impeachment should only be judged as a means to an end.
1. Impeachment is too good for him
Sure, the planet would breathe a sigh of relief should Dubya get the boot, but why let him off the hook so easily? As Lindorff and Olshansky state: "The evidence of ... constitutional transgressions, violations of federal and international law, abuse of power, and criminal negligence as chief executive ... are so blatant one might think conviction would be a foregone conclusion."
Well then, why stop there? "The call for impeachment trivializes the crimes," declares journalist Rosemarie Jackowski. "Where is the demand for war crimes trials?" Good question. Holding President Bush accountable for his actions is crucial to the health of the state but to stop at impeachment is to maintain the American tradition of Oval Office wrist slapping. After all, Nixon was brought down for his role in the Watergate cover-up-not for, say, his role in bombing Cambodia or overthrowing a democratically elected leader in Chile. Then, of course, there was the case of Bill Clinton, which brings us to reason #2.
2. Impeachment plays into the hands of the Democrats
"If a Democratic majority is elected to the House in November 2006," write Lindorff and Olshansky, "we are confident a bill of impeachment will be introduced early in the next Congress." This, the authors say, is the road to choose if we want to "take back our country, our government, and our rights." I wonder, when exactly did we "own" our country, our government, and our rights and why would anyone expect the Democrats (especially those who supported Bush's crimes) to make that happen?
Bill Clinton may have faced impeachment for lying about his adulterous liaisons, but his actions, both global and domestic, over the course of eight years could easily fill a book or two. What does it mean to "take back our country" if the next president will exploit the position of following Bush to write his (or her) own book of impeachment? Those who chose the Anybody-but-Bush path in 2004 appear lined up and ready to once again embrace the Democrats, e.g. the left wing of America's one corporate party. If so, the cycle continues unabated.
This is not to suggest George W. Bush shouldn't face impeachment and certainly Lindorff and Olshansky have done their homework in explaining this to the 31 percent who still approve of the president's performance. However, for Bush's impeachment to serve as more than a high-profile partisan lynching, it must be seen as a baby step toward justice. The myriad problems we face today are not of George W. Bush's making alone. He is but the current face on a system that needs a complete overhaul. Giving the Democrats freedom to exploit Bush's unpopularity to insure that the next face is not Republican is what Stephen Colbert might call, "rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg."
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at: www.mickeyz.net. His latest book is 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism (Disinformation Books, 2005).
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