Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What's the Case for Impeachment?

I've been pretty amused by the recent gleeful excitement among liberals on the prospects for impeaching President Bush. The push for impeachment picked up steam last year, when the prospects for a Democratic takeover of the Congress came into sharp focus. This last week has seen a flurry of impeachment talk, with the news that public opinion polls are finding support for Bush's impeachment in the mid-40 percent range. (See the American Survey Groups findings, which are discussed in this report from the New York Sun.)

Last January,
The Nation ran a major article making the case for impeachment, but I've seen little discussion of the substantive arguments for Bush's removal in the various blogs post on the topic. Over at the The Atlantic blog, the comment thread on Matthew Yglesias' post was a radical antiwar echo chamber. I put in a couple comments suggesting it was all sour grapes, but my remarks didn't seem to go over so well. It's mostly seething hatred for Bush and Cheney, with little discussion of the legal merits of the case.

Seething hatred was all I could get out of Libby Spencer in the comments to her post at The Impolitic, "
To Impeach or Not to Impeach." Ms. Libby spouts canned left-wing radicalism. In my first go' round with her, she threw up her hands in frustration, quitting the debate, moaning that she had "five blogs" going and had to work on her "content."

Oooh, that sounds impressive, I must say! I thought Ms. Libby was a good sport for more devilishly fun debate. But she just gave up, denouncing me as mentally ill and prone to "extraordinary levels of cognitive dissonance." A couple of Libby's liberal blogger allies jump in to defend her honor, denouncing me for my "fatuous and fact-free" fallacies, all the while refusing to make the case for Bush's impeachment. Here's my last response, deflecting an assertion that the Federalist Papers are irrelevant to the discussion, because "they're not part of our legal structure":
The Federalist Papers provide the basic theory of our constitution. That's not yesterday's news, since limited government is the grounding philosophy of the American system. But who needs foundations when you've got indignation?! Congress considers impeachment only for extraordinary circumstances. We've just had three impeachment episodes in history, and no president has been removed formally. Congress cannot select presidents, and political norms have limited Congress' ability to remove presidents from office. The executive enjoys considerable freedom from Congress. It's not like bitter partisanship just emerged recently. But, hey, if you're too lazy to make your case, that's not my problem.

What's the offense? The Iraq war authorization? Nope, Congress passed it with bipartisan support. Guantanamo and enemy combatants? Nope, the Supreme Court ruled against the administration, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Rumsfeld in 2004. How about warrantless wiretapping? Is that an example of the adminstration's lawbreaking, fitting the requirements for "high crimes" under Article I, Section II? Nope, sorry. The U.S. Appeals Court for the 6th Circuit just threw out that case, in a victory for Bush. Need more examples? Of course not. It's all rabid Bush-hatred driving the impeachment push. The administration's reined in by the normal constitutional safeguards. Blow as much steam as you want, and throw out ridiculous rants to your little heart's desire! You'll need more than some squishy poll numbers backing you to make a compelling case for Bush's removal from office.
Meanwhile, I checked around for some alternative views on the case for impeachment, turning up this piece over at FrontPageMagazine. Here's a key snippet:

A plan is in place to censure and impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney....

The plan is the ultimate manifestation of left-wing hatred for George W. Bush rooted in the contentious election of 2000. Since failing to defeat Bush in 2004, the Left has focused its efforts on destroying his presidency by assembling a list of charges aimed at impeaching him.
Here's more:

Facing the serious possibility of a pro-war Republican winning the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic Party has a narrowing window of opportunity to end the Iraq War and realize its Vietnam Dream. The best way to make that dream come true would be to level and investigate charge after charge against the Bush Administration, destroying its legitimacy to have initiated the Iraq War and to have conducted it.

Naturally, an avalanche of anti-Bush, antiwar press would accompany such investigations. Opposition to a war perceived as having been unjustly waged, would skyrocket. The public's call for an end to the war would justify its de-funding in the eyes of Congress.

The ploy of leveling serious, unfounded charges against one's political opponents has served the Democratic Party well in the past. It is the ideal one to effect a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Read the whole thing. The article notes that the impeachment push is not to be taken lightly (a point seconded in this article over at Townhall). With Bush's recent commutation of Scooter Libby, the the radical left's impeachment drumbeat in growing louder.

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