These days, it seems that one can't go very far in the liberal blogsphere without running into someone advocating impeachment, of both Bush and Cheney, for the crime of leading the United States into a ruinous war in Iraq. This started a couple of years ago, and I thought it would peter out as the fad of the day, but instead it seems to have grown stronger and picked up adherents. In fact at our next state party meeting in August, a resolution has been put forward by the Progressive Caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party, not only supporting impeachment, but directing the members of our Congressional delegation to support it.
And the thought is certainly appealing and I can understand where the sentiment comes from. It originates in the 2000 election, and the belief (which I share) that this President was never legitimately elected, and used a combination of dirty tricks, luck and a Supreme Court decision to strongarm his way into the White House. Then, once there, he has indeed been guilty of pushing America into a war which it turns out was a vat of acid that has eroded our military capability, our financial wellbeing and the status of the United States as a superpower. On July 2, 2003 he told insurgents then starting to pick off American troops in Iraq, 'bring it on.' For a President to dare an enemy to attack American troops in the field is reckless, cowardly and inexcusable.
Mostly, President Bush has been wrong because his ideology is wrong. The rest of the time, he's been wrong because he is incompetent.
But I oppose impeaching him.
The first reason is because whatever harm he has already done (and it's been an awful lot), he has by now been effectively neutered. He can't even get the members of the Senate from his own party to stand firm in favor of his war. The so-called 'surge,' has had mixed results at best, and has resulted in a rapid approach of the half trillion dollar mark in terms of the cost of this war, and now in three consecutive months it triple digit U.S. military fatalities-- a figure exceeded now five times in the past nine months, but only three times in the three and a half years of war prior to last October. George Bush and Dick Cheney will leave office on January 20, 2009-- scarcely a year and a half down the road-- weakened and with no legacy at all. None. Even Jimmy Carter, who Republicans love to lambaste, left office with the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt, and the passage of a new and comprehensive energy policy (which we'd have been much better off if we'd followed through with) in his bag of mementos.
Beyond that, though, impeaching the President would be unlikely to succeed. Even if you could get enough House Democrats to back it (unlikely for a measure with 10 cosponsors as of this writing), and also back impeachment against Dick Cheney (which would require a completely seperate trial), to convict in the Senate, you'd need the votes of sixteen Republicans (seventeen if Lieberman voted not to convict, which is likely). True, up to ten Republicans have recently raised some concerns about Iraq (with Snowe of Maine, Smith of Oregon and Hagel of Nebraska having outright signed onto a Democratic measure for withdrawal), but that is not the same as signing onto removal from office, and to get up to seventeen is unrealistic. Period. And then you'd have to go through the whole thing all over again and get up to that number again for Cheney. Truth is, I don't see it happening. Besides, if it did then it would end-- not Bush and Cheney's career on January 20, 2009, but rather Nancy Pelosi's career (she'd be compelled by the Constitution to resign from the speakership and become a caretaker President for a year-- and with the party nominee likely chosen by this February, she wouldn't even have the option Gerald Ford had to try and run for a full term.)
Further, it is hard to see what good this could possibly do for us on matters that are important to us. How does impeaching President Bush get us any closer to universal health care, a living wage for all Americans, an end to poverty and most importantly getting us out of Iraq? There is only one way to be sure of the first three-- which is to expand the Democratic majority in Congress and elect a Democratic President next year. Hard to see how impeaching Bush will do either. As to Iraq, Republican Senators are now defecting in numbers that suggest that we could, especially as the election gets closer, be able to put through a real withdrawal bill. But again, it's hard to see how impeachment would help us get that done. It could hurt though, a lot.
I hope we have the good sense to stay focused on what matters-- next year's election. Because if we try to impeach the President, and then on January 20, 2009, a Republican is taking the oath of office, we would only have ourselves to blame.