Friday, November 11, 2005

''Politically Strategic Impeachment''

David Swanson makes the case, on Tidbits: "While it would of course be good for the world for Bush and Cheney to be impeached, convicted, and sent packing, would it be politically advantageous for a Congress Member to introduce articles of impeachment? And would it benefit the Democratic Party for some or all of the Democrats to push for impeachment at this time? Or should they do it later? Or is there another way?

The primary reason weighing against making such an announcement is also the primary reason weighing against introducing impeachment now, namely that whoever stuck their neck out on this would have it attacked by Republicans and the media.

Well, yes, but what could be politically more beneficial right now than being attacked by these Republicans? Just ask the new governors elect of Virginia and New Jersey. Just ask the California nurses. Sure, you'll be called radical, but you'll be able to cite the polls that show you to be standing with the majority. Sure, the media will go after you brutally, but 70 percent of Americans distrust the media. Over 70 percent of Democrats favor impeachment despite the absence of a single story about it in the media. As soon as there are any stories about it, even if they are attacks on you, that number will climb higher.

Well, all right, let's say it does. We still won't pass impeachment in 2006, given the size of the Republican majority. And when we fail to pass it, and fail with prominent Democrats, probably including our nominal leader, voting with the Republicans, that will make it harder to bring it up again the next year once we have a majority. Only we won't win a majority, because we'll have made ourselves look foolish and ineffective.

No, wait a minute. You're missing the whole point. The point is not to pass impeachment now. The point is to erode any remaining credibility held by Bush or Cheney or their allies in Congress and to let the public know that the Democrats stand for something. This is how you will win a majority. The Republicans didn't win a majority by putting tape over their mouths and practicing restraint. They won by appealing to their base (and by cheating, and by raising more money). And there is no double jeopardy. Impeachment can be attempted any number of times before it succeeds. If Bush and Cheney were both actually removed from office, the speaker of the House would become President. If the Democrats have a majority, the speaker will be a Democrat. And if the Democrats have a majority by the time one of the two (Bush or Cheney) is impeached first (should that happen) the Democrats can choose to vote down the other one's picks for new VP.

All right. In theory, that works, but the whole impeachment process will be traumatic for the country. Yes, and what do you call this hell we're living through now? Impeachment is medicine, and it may be bitter, but it will heal us." And we get the first woman President of the United States, to boot!

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