April 25 , 2007
Why We MUST Impeach - A Second Look
By Mary Lyon
FINALLY! That was the first word past my lips on the momentous Fourth Tuesday in April, when Democratic Congressman and Presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich finally showed the kind of backbone for which some of us have been waiting more than six years. HR333 it is - formally submitted for your consideration, including three Articles of Impeachment against Richard B. Cheney.
I wrote this original column five months ago when I had nothing tangible on which to hang my hopes. It still stands, albeit slightly updated to add details of the case that's been built in the meantime - and all that we now know. It's still a no-brainer - now, even moreso. We simply HAVE to do it. We HAVE TO IMPEACH George W. Bush, although I'm okay with starting IMPEACHMENT proceedings against Cheney. There really is no other way and no other priority in the wake of the Democratic takeover. ALL other priorities MUST lead to, and be tied to, this one.
What we've seen since January, when the Democrats took the seats with the gavels and subpoena power attached, are colossal scandals, breach of ethics, the public trust, and yes, more than sufficient numbers of offenses that qualify as IMPEACHABLE offenses. At this point, I'm not sure there's time to list them all, from "Gonzo-gate" to the Valerie Plame mess; from lying about going to war to Rove running amok inside various government department meeting rooms on "company time," schooling people on how to game the system for political gain; from the "extra-curricular" RNC laptops and servers to the millions of missing messages; from New Orleans to Ground Zero to the Green Zone. From Florida to Ohio and who knows where else? And who knows how much perjury and obstruction of justice? From the fired U.S. Attorney scandal to the EPA. From Rove to Harriet Miers to Contradicta to Gonzo (and whoever else decides they don't need to heed a lawful Congressional subpoena. It just goes on and on and on and on. Like I said, I just don't have enough time here to count them all. Besides, who can count that high?
All I'm seeing at the moment, on this priority, is Dennis Kucinich, and quite a few members of Congress with tight sphincters about the avalanches of calls and emails from constituents - urging them to pursue this. Seems Speaker Pelosi still would rather keep IMPEACHMENT off the table. Perhaps she blushingly would prefer to defer because it might look self-serving. She's the one who stands to gain the most, as second in line to the Oval Office. Okay, fine. Still, the need to drag her kicking and screaming into this is glaring and ever-growing. Accountability, anyone? Have the Democrats forgotten some of the lessons of November 7 th , 2006 ? Have the backbones we voted for started crumbling already? Do they think ALL we wanted them to do, upon handing them majority status, was to stop the war (although, make no mistake, that is a MOST worthy and long overdue pursuit)? Did they not hear that previously-ignored group - "We the People" - literally roaring its collective heads off? We didn't want ONLY the war to stop. We voted for ALL OF IT to stop - the incompetence, the rubber-stamping, the cronyism, the lying, the lousy decision-making, the scheming, the corner-cutting, the smoke-screening, the fear-mongering, the wholesale obstruction and manipulation and deceit. There were multiple reasons why the republi-CON-led status quo was ousted, along with a great many of those who relentlessly, ruthlessly, and willfully enabled it.
I say again, IMPEACHMENT should absolutely be ON the table. It should be the centerpiece on that table, as a matter of fact. Heck, it should BE the table. I'm looking at this from several perspectives to support this assertion:
First, as a mom. If my kids committed some deliberate, egregious wrong, shouldn't there be punishment? If I, as their mother, fail to show them that there are consequences for bad deeds, what will they learn? And what kind of mother will that prove me to be? Negligence wouldn't even begin to describe it. You love them to absolute pieces. But that does NOT mean you turn a blind eye to their running amok. Bad behavior should NEVER be reinforced, let alone benignly ignored, and certainly NEVER rewarded - by allowing the bad behavior to continue unchecked. Even Dr. Laura would have to agree with that one.
Second, as an employer. As a voter, taxpayer, and citizen, I am the boss of my elected representatives - whether they like it or not (fortunately, mine, Democrats all, probably do). THEY work for ME. It's NOT the other way around. I have never been in any business where one of the employees, and yes, even the management, is not held to account for bad behavior, poor performance, getting the company sued, losing the company a lot of money, or face - in bad PR, or lousy decision-making. NEVER. Poor results were NEVER supported or sustained, nor were the people responsible for them. Eventually, heads rolled. ALWAYS. NO program director at ANY radio station at which I worked EVER survived very long after presiding over a stretch of bad ratings. EVER. Sometimes the general manager ate it, too. I've seen instances where the housecleaning was so thorough that even the general sales manager and several secretaries and executive assistants to the purged upper-management people also got the boot. Funny, though, how those who'd preach the gospel of "running the government like a business" have never weighed in on this aspect of the business template.
Third, as a citizen. The simplest Google check of "The Constitution of the United States of America" lists the opening salvo of said document as the Preamble, and the very first words of said Preamble as "We the People." See the first two sentences of the previous paragraph. That's how our most sacred of sacred founding documents starts out - referencing "We the People." So we're the owners, operators, overseers, and beneficiaries. The buck stops with us as citizens of the country whose very conscience is that Constitution. As such, we have a huge responsibility - to ourselves, and to our future. We have a responsibility to tell this president and EVERY president after him that you CANNOT commit these crimes without consequence. The concept of "the presidency" and "the free ride" are not interchangeable. Anyone who aspires to be president should be put on notice that they not only serve at our pleasure, they're obligated to do right by our pleasure, and not break our laws, not commit international crimes, not take unilateral actions that needlessly squander thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and our credibility and moral standing in the community of nations. The more hideous the crime, the more grave should be the punishment. That's why IMPEACHMENT is in place as a tool of the people's governance. In the case of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, especially, there can be no consequence less than IMPEACHMENT - AND removal from office. That's because of the magnitude and number of the high crimes and misdemeanors they have either committed directly, or caused or allowed others below them to commit in their names and for their benefit. There truly is no other option available, if indeed we claim to stand for "liberty AND JUSTICE - for ALL."
Besides, we've already been through this. Richard Nixon was almost formally impeached on the strength of the over-riding premise that NO ONE, not even a president, is above the law. Clearly, that dictate now has to be reinforced, because at this point, nobody in this administration seems to remember anything about it - along with all the other stuff they can no longer remember once they're compelled to testify under oath. The memories of every single citizen in the nation, high-placed and low, need to be refreshed on this particular matter. Clearly, it's a vital point that's been lost on many.
This leads me to an additional argument in favor of IMPEACHMENT (which, yes, I deliberately put in capital letters - the better to make it obvious and to drive it home). We owe it to history, and not only to send a cautionary advisory to all future presidents to discourage criminality or abuses of power. We owe it to history to rehabilitate the very concept itself. IMPEACHMENT has been cheapened, perverted, and bastardized, by the republi-CONS who persecuted Bill Clinton for everything but violating the kitchen sink, and finally settled on his lying about cheating on his wife. For THAT embarrassingly petty and miniscule technicality, we actually impeached a president. What does that say about the penalty of IMPEACHMENT? It's been rendered utterly pathetic, tragically tarnished, humiliatingly diminished, ridiculous, toothless. It's become virtually meaningless - a shade, a farce, a joke - a really bad joke at that. And as of now, that's how it stands for the future. The very idea of IMPEACHMENT absolutely MUST be rehabilitated, so that it once again carries the full weight of the singularly, staggeringly profound consequence that it was designed and intended to be.
Just as all future presidents must be served notice that they flout our nation's laws at their peril, we should also serve notice that IMPEACHMENT does indeed count for something deadly serious. It is not a move to be undertaken capriciously or over trifles. If this particular president is NOT forced to face such punishment for crimes almost ungodly in number and scope, high crimes and misdemeanors in every sense of the word, then what on earth do we stand for as a purported nation dedicated to the rule of law and justice for all? What does that say about us as Americans? Indeed, what does that say about the very dream that is America?
We do NOT have an absolute monarch in charge in this country, even though it's seemed so for more than six years now. That's not what America is about. That's not what it was founded or originally intended to be. Quite the contrary. Our very existence as a nation arose in resistance and in opposition to absolute monarchy. And if we do not mete out punishment befitting the crimes in the case of this president, George won't be the only one who will not have learned anything about what it means to be a responsible American citizen - obligated to the pursuit of justice and a more perfect union. Neither will we.
Then go DO something about it.
Support Dennis Kucinich and HR333. And urge your reps to do likewise.