Are the Bushites Bringing on Impeachment?

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by Andrew Bard Schmookler

A speculation I’ve expended some virtual ink here laying out my thoughts, post election, regarding the idea of impeachment. In a nutshell, I’ve said that while the Bushites deserve impeachment like none others in American history, the Democrats should proceed very carefully if at all to make sure that they do not play into the Bushites’ hands and lose the center of the American electorate. What I had in mind was that the Dems conduct the right kinds of hearings in the right way, and see how things evolve.

But of course, the situation in the system evolves in other ways as well. And with the Bushites’ latest military gambit –the so-called surge, as president in GWB’s talk to the nation this past week– may lead to a different scenario from any I’d imagined before. My purpose here is to lay out a conceibable scenario that may lead to impeachment sooner and for different reasons than I’d envisioned before.

1) Signs are accumulating that the new Bushite gambit is NOT about Iraq but about expanding the existing disaster in Iraq into a wider regional war, with Iran in particular as the target.

Among these signs are a) some language in the president’s statement, b) the replacement of the commander of American forces in Iraq by a Navy man whose expertise has nothing to do with the kind of war being fought in Iraq but would be appropriate for managing an air assault on Iran, and c) the the sending of a carrier fleet to the Persian Gulf.

I’m not yet ready to say that the launching of a new war is really what all this is about, but it would not be the first time that this gang had lied us into a conflict. And the possibility seems real enough to justify thinking through the implications of the possibility.

2) It is clear that there are many in Congress –including some Republicans– who want to stop this administration from unilaterally escalating and expanding America’s involvement in war in that region. A variety of possible checks are being discussed, from using the power of the purse to revoking the president’s authorization to use force to the War Powers Act.

Even if the Bushites are NOT trying to expand the war beyond Iraq, their incredible defiance not only of the message from the electorate in November and of the Baker-Hamilton report, but of reality, seems to be evoking significant opposition not only from Democrats in Congress but from Republicans as well.

3) It is also pretty clear that the Bushites will not recognize the authority of Congress to prevent the president from doing whatever he wishes to do. Not only is there a long record of this administration’s making claims of virtually unchecked power for the “commander-in-chief,” but such statements are continuing as Congress and the administration appear to be moving toward a constitutional confrontation over these matters of checks and balances.

4) The question then arises over how this confrontation will be resolved. Perhaps the issues could be taken to the Supreme Court. With that scenario, I wonder two things: first, would it be possible to get a resolution in a timely way, i.e. before the “commander-in-chief” might have taken the actions forbidden him by Congress; second, could one count on the Court –with its new members Roberts and Alito– to come down against the Bushite interpretation in which the president gets the power of an autocrat? Might Congress decide that resolving the specific issues through the Court would not be a workable solution?

That leads to the final point.

5) Perhaps it is in the context of such a struggle that a bi-partisan majority in Congress could conceivably decide that the best way to block the Bushites from compounding the disaster they’ve created would be simply to remove them from office. After all, it would not be difficult at all to find the legal bases of “high crimes and misdemeanors” on which to base an impeachment.

Thus, the Bushites’ latest gambit may change the picture regarding the chances for impeachment. Previously, Congress might well have calculated that with less than two years left in Bush’s second term, removing him from office would not achieve enough to warrant the mess and hassle of an impeachment. But now, if enough in Congress feel that an impeachment is the surest way to prevent this gang from creating a whole new disaster, immediate removal might seem important and not superfluous.

Previously, it has seemed that not that many members of Congress have felt, as many of us do, that the defense of something so abstract as the Constitution and the rule of law required them to expose and punish the lawlessness of this regime. But even for people who don’t take seriously such abstractions, the concrete matter of expanding the present disaster into a still larger disaster of regional war might provoke them into action.

I’m not saying that I necessarily expect that things will unfold in this way. But this now seems at least a genuine possibility.

The recklessness and ruthlessness of the Bushites continually surprise, and take us into waters dark and dangerous and unforeseen. 

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