It's hard not to see the deafening silence as a reflection of the intra-Beltway consensus that sensible people really can't take seriously the notion of impeaching a President for acting on the basis of what he may have regarded as raison d'etat. The supposedly "adult" view seems to be that finicky moralism shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of good-faith efforts to advance the national interest. (The enthusiasm of the Administration's supporters for "law and order" does not, apparently, extend beyond dealing with the [real or imagined] wrongs of the socially marginal.) The impeachment process, we are repeatedly assured, should not be used to settle political scores.
The reality, however, is that this isn't, isn't remotely, a close call. Impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney wouldn't be a matter of punishing dedicated public servants for a few good-faith errors in judgment. As regards solid justifications for impeachment, we suffer from an embarrassment of riches.
Consider such examples as
- the manipulative initiation and prosecution of the Iraq war, reasonably seen as a predicate for murder liability
- the approval and encouragement of torture
The hearings will go nowhere unless members of the public make clear to the members of the Judiciary Committee and the House leadership that they are disgusted with the Administration's lawlessness and contempt for human rights. Liberals, conservatives, and libertarians all have good reason to insist, in potentially surprising unison, that today's pre-impeachment hearings lead to serious consideration by the Committee and the full House of the case for trying George Bush and Dick Cheney and removing them from office.
Of course Bush and Cheney are about to leave office. But I believe we need to do what we can to impede their ongoing illegal conduct. And we need to make clear to their successors that becoming President does not mean receiving carte blanche to do whatever one claims to be in the national interest.
UPDATE: those interested in supporting Kucinich’s efforts by signing a petition he is circulating can do so here.