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9/11/2005

Back to reality

The good folks at Ezra Klein's place are talking about impeachment. Here's what 'Shakes' has to say:
I’ve noticed that the words resignation, impeachment, and recall are starting to pop up more and more frequently ... my thought is that the Democrats need to be sticking their faces into every camera even vaguely aimed in their direction and calling for his impeachment, and put the onus on the GOP to explain why they were willing to impeach a president for lying about a blowjob, but aren’t willing to investigate or in any way hold accountable a president whose incompetence and bad policies have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. I know that the Dems don’t have the votes to get it done, which is an oft-asserted excuse for why they shouldn’t bother, but I think it’s necessary at this point to regain control of the dialogue. Let Bush and Co. go on the offensive for awhile and steal their ability to turn this into another bit of revisionist history where the president comes out a hero as Brownie takes the fall.
Ezra responds:
One thing to remember about the Republican attempt to impeach Clinton is that, annoying as it was, it failed utterly. The impeachment overreach destroyed Newt Gingrich's career and handed the Republicans the worst elections results for an opposition party since Johnson crushed Goldwater in 1964. Think about that -- getting so close to destroying the President ended with Republicans getting the worst whupping any opposition party had received in 34 years.

...I'd like to handicap Bush, and I think Democrats should make a lot of hay out of Hastert's refusal to give full subpoena powers to a congressional investigation. Indeed, a large part of our 2006 appeal should be based on the argument that at least some branch of government should be able to exercise antagonistic oversight on the others ones. ...

But an impeachment argument is a different order of magnitude, one that rarely works, one that we don't have the votes for, and one that could really kill us. To paraphrase The Usual Suspects, what happens if shoot the devil in the back and miss?
Finally, Neil the Werewolf weighs in:
...the causes we care about will reap much more benefit from long-term damage to voter perceptions of the Republican party than from damage to Bush's personal reputation. Those two things are definitely linked, but right now the biggest focus shouldn't be on going after Bush himself, it should be about eroding positive stereotypes of Republicans and deepening negative ones ...

Thinking into a happy 2006 where Democrats win one or the other chamber of Congress, the I-word I like a lot more than "impeachment" is "investigation". We still haven't had an investigation into Iraq intelligence failures that issued from the White House, and we could make Bush regret not letting his own Republican Congress investigate those ...To push the fiscal mismanagement issue, we could -- after watching the cost of the 2003 Medicare Bill run out of control -- investigate why the White House tried to cover up the actual cost of the program by threatening to fire the actuary who wanted Congress to know the truth.
These are all interesting points and everything, but what I was wondering as I read these posts was: What universe do you guys live in?!? No offense meant - I have nothing but respect for Shakes, Neil and Ezra - but in the universe I inhabit, the Democratic party would never have the balls to go after Bush the way they're suggesting. The primary impediment to impeaching Bush - and, for the record, Bush absolutely should be impeached, and Henry Kissinger should be in jail, and people in Hell want ice water, etc. - isn't the fact that Democrats don't have a majority; it's that even if they did have a majority, they still wouldn't conduct impeachment hearings or the kind of investigations that Neil is calling for.

I'd love to be proved wrong about this, believe me. But can anyone name a single example of the Democratic leadership (i.e., not just the CBC) taking on Bush in any serious way? A leopard doesn't change its spots, even if he might have the votes to do so.


NOTE: Post edited slightly; I hadn't realized that 'Shakes' was in fact Shakespeare's Sister. Thanks to Neil for informing me, and sorry for being sloppy.

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