Suppose it could be proven that the integrity of the
vote-counting in the 2004 election had been seriously compromised, and
that Bush-Cheney probably lost. What would you do about it?
Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration told huge lies to
get the U.S. military into Iraq, thus leading to the deaths of thousands
of American soldiers, the maiming of tens of thousands of others, the
deaths of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians? What would you do
Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration effectively has
turned over the writing of pollution-control legislation to the
corporations that create much of the pollution? What would you do about
Suppose it could be proven that the Bush inner circle knew that a huge
terrorist attack was about to go down in the Fall of 2001 and chose, for
whatever reason, to ignore the warnings. What would you do about it?
Suppose it could be proven that high officials of the Bush Administration,
for political reasons, deliberately revealed the identity of a covert CIA
officer, and that of a CIA mole inside Osama bin Laden's inner circle?
What would you do about it?
Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration concocted a legal
philosophy that would permit the President to ignore laws passed by
Congress, and has "disappeared" a number of American citizens into
military-base prisons away from public or legal scrutiny -- in effect,
making the President into a kind of dictator? What would you do about it?
Suppose it could be proven that under rules devised by the Bush
Administration, confidentiality between lawyer and client no longer
exists, federal agents can enter your home and conduct a search without
you being present or even being told it happened ("sneak&peak," it's
called), can hack into your computer and read your private emails without
you being informed, can check what library books you're reading and
prevent librarians from telling you they've done that. What would you do
Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration devised legal
rationales for torture of suspected terrorist-prisoners in U.S. care --
with more than 100 dying while being interrogated -- and that key
detainees are being sent to U.S.-friendly countries where extreme torture
methods are used? What would you do about it?
Suppose it could be proven that because of their incompetence and delay in
responding to the Gulf Coast Katrina catastrophe, more than a thousand
innocent American citizens drowned or starved to death? What would you do
Suppose it could be proven that the Bush Administration, hostile to
science, has denied the reality of global warming and its effects on
regional weather changes, such as the increase in monster hurricanes like
Katrina and Rita, and thus devoted little or no attention to the deadly
implications. What would you do about it?
"WHAT DO I CARE WHAT YOU THINK?"
Well, you get the idea. You or I could continue this list forever -- civil
liberties decimated, church&state merging, humongous deficits, activist
judges granting more and more power to the central government, certain
citizens (especially women and gays) being discriminated against, etc.
etc. And then we'd always come back to the same closing question: "What
would you do about it?"
The reason I ask is that the Bush Administration has been caught in the
spotlight on these issues for the past four-and-a-half years, with
documented evidence reported in the mainstream media. Scandal after
scandal, corruption after corruption, high crimes and misdemeanors -- and
yet, nothing happens.
As Bush himself once said about his critics, almost in these words: "So
what, I'm the President. What are you going to do about it? What do I care
what you think?" As long as Bush is in the White House, with all the power
at his command, with all his loyalist toadies keeping real-world
consequences away from him, he feels that he and his inner circle in the
bunker with him are untouchable.
And, to date, he has been. So what are you, what are we, going to do about
ALMOST AT CRITICAL MASS
I suggest that anti-Bush critical mass is just about achieved in the body
politic, especially after the disgraceful, shameful neglect and bungling
associated with the Katrina scandal, which led to the deaths of so many
American citizens. Nearly two-thirds of those polled these days agree that
the Iraq War is a mistake, and the troops should be brought back home
soon. Bush's approval rating is now in the high-30% range. If and when in
the next few months indictments are unsealed against key Bush
Administration officials -- perhaps including not only Karl Rove and
Scooter Libby but John Bolton and, maybe as unindicted co-conspirators,
Bush and Cheney -- true critical mass could be achieved.
At that point, we don't want to be just sitting there watching the
unfolding of the Bush Administration's self-destruction, or witnessing
their last, dangerous, martial-law death throes. We need to have protected
ourselves, and helped prepare the way for the moral/legal/political
turnaround that is coming.
One way to lay the necessary foundations is to get the citizenry talking
seriously about the possibility of impeachment. Now. And, in addition to
raising the issue amid the chattering class, perhaps the best way of
getting the word out more widely is for an impeachment resolution to be
introduced in the House. Now.
As I see it, such a resolution will have no chance of success if it is
introduced only by a single, and easily dismissable, Member of Congress.
No, this impeachment resolution -- calling for hearings into the alleged
high crimes and misdemeanors of Bush and Cheney -- ideally should be
introduced by a huge number of Representatives, including whatever
courageous Republicans can be convinced to join.
There also is strength in numbers, perhaps giving members courage to take
the giant step in the company of many of their peers. Who will start the
process by talking along these lines to their fellow Members of Congress?
My guess is that if someone with the stature of John Conyers and Jim Leach
began talking up the idea of an impeachment resolution, others might well
consider signing on. Even better would be if anti-war Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi were to bite the bullet and join in. I'd say a minimum of 40
names would be necessary to break through into the major media as a
"serious" movement afoot.
WHY MANY REPUBS MIGHT JOIN IN
Why would Republicans want to abandon the Bush cabal that helped turn them
into the majority party in Congress? Well, for one thing, they want to get
re-elected and Bush could well be an embarrassing and politically
radioactive albatross around their necks in 2006. If Bush and Cheney were
to go, they could run campaigns devoid of their association with that
pair, and might well return to their seats of power in the Congress.
Likewise, CEOs and other business types, including Stock Market brokers
and economic powers that be, see the damage being inflicted on the budget,
on deficit financing, on the economy, and so on, and might well believe
that three more years of this bumbling, ideologically-driven
administration could well take the country down with it. Better to cut
their losses now by abandoning Bush&Co. to the retribution of the public
for four-plus years of reckless rule, and then stabilize things and get
the country back on track.
So many retired military leaders and traditional Republicans,
conservatives all (in the pre-Bush meaning of that term), already have cut
themselves loose from a party kidnapped by far-right extremists. It's not
outside the realm of possibility that these GOP forces might coalesce into
a movement that sees the forced eviction of Bush&Co. from the White House
as in the best interests of themselves, their party, the economy, and the
American people in general.
Now, introducing such a resolution calling for impeachment hearings could
well fail when it comes up for a vote. But Bush& Co. may have gone so far
over the acceptable edge, it's not outside the realm of possibility that
such a bill could pass. (Members of Congress were talking about the
impeachment of President Nixon in the early-'70s and, though no such
resolutions passed, they helped set the stage for Nixon's resignation
later as the Watergate scandal unfolded.)
In any event, discussing the reasons for impeachment outside the fringes
of internet discourse -- actual governmental officials talking about it --
would significantly alter the respectability of the topic being raised in
the public sphere. Suddenly, it would be a serious issue being discussed
seriously, both out on the street (where there would have to be
unrelenting rallies and civil disobedience) and in the corridors of
industry and political power.
NO SEX BUT PLENTY OF DEAD BODIES
The basis for impeachment of Bush-Cheney would not be a personal
indiscretion a la Clinton -- extremely bad judgment, but a private sexual
act between consenting adults -- but crimes and misdemeanors that have
resulted, and continue to result, in the death and destruction of American
citizens and their property, both abroad and at home.
As for the wording of such a resolution, my guess is that the experts in
such things will opt for a simple, all-inclusive indictment rather than a
laundry-list of specific offenses, which will come later. For example,
Bush and Cheney took their oaths of office swearing to "preserve, protect
and defend" the Constitution and, by implication, the citizens of the
United States. They have done neither.
The Constitutional protections designed to shield citizens from an
overbearing federal government are in shreds; citizens are being killed in
a war based on lies; we Americans are less secure than we were before the
invasion of Iraq; and monster storms have become more deadly because of
unfeeling incompetence and a denial of scientific realities.
It is long since time to take corrective action. Many progressives and
Democrats have been moving in that direction for a long time, but the time
may be ripe for significant factions of the Republican Party to join in
the movement to pry the grasping fingers of Bush&Co. from the levers of
Introducing a resolution calling for impeachment hearings is the first
serious step along that road back to political sanity and moral
accountability for our country. Let's demand that our Representatives in
Congress do it, and if they won't, we will elect those who will.
Copyright 2005, by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught
at various universities, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco
Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers