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November 19, 2006

Reacting to the Suggestion of Impeachment

The issue of whether or not to aim for impeachment is heating up in the national blogs. Kid Oakland, one of my favorite national bloggers, address the debate about impeachment in a diary over at DailyKos. He calls the piece, "Common Sense". Here are a couple excerpts:

I think advocating impeachment right now is extremely poor tactics.  And, imo, has an underlying aspect of being poor politics. In this sense, as a result of the 2006 elections, the United States Constitution is already working its checks and balances and will work every day for the next two years. The people have spoken, and in our system of government, the people, as specifically represented in the United States Congress, have a great deal of power.

In my mind there is a philosophical flaw in the argument that in order to "defend the Constitution" we must impeach the President. The voters of the United States in effect just did that...and, yes, voters did that with the full knowledge that in addition to all the significant powers that Congress has above...that the House and the Senate can, as well, impeach members of the Executive Branch and the Judiciary if circumstances merit...as a grave and last resort.

What is missing from this "campaign for impeachment" is, in my mind, a sense of groundedness and realism about the Constitution and the political realities of the day. The left wing of the Democratic Party has a DNC chair, Howard Dean, and a Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and will have the Chairs of so many Congressional Committees that we are on the brink of a new day in D.C. politics. That "left lean" in our leadership, however, does NOT represent every member of our coalition. How we left Democrats manage this situation, and choose to lead, will reflect on all of us.

My Take

I agree that aiming for impeachment, itself, is off the mark.  It may come.  It may not.  We have investigations to attend to but, as importantly, we have a democracy to rebuild.
I think this is a "teachable moment" if you will.  Progressive Democrats get an opportunity to model good government nationally, and in our case, in the state government.  

The Republicans have been put on probation because they were not doing what the people want.  Let's do what the people want but also nudge them along (there's a reason for my handle). The First 100 Hours Agenda of Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic leaders is a good start.  A reminder of what it includes:

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds.

After that, it's pay as you go.  Whatever it is.  I am thrilled at what they've done and think this is part of what the electorate reacted positively to.

There is a set of paintings in the City Hall of Siena that blew my mind when I saw them many years ago.   The city commissioned Ambrogio Lorenzetti to paint two huge paintings, one on each side of the great hall in the building.  One is The Effects of Bad Government and the other is The Effects of Good Government.  In the painting about the effects of good government, both city and country were prosperous, people talked and listened to one another and enjoyed a civic life.  In the painting about the effects of bad government, the countryside was depleted, there was an army on the loose and people were fearful.

The paintings were completed in 1340.  They are crystal clear.  They have been right there in the City Hall of Siena ever since, reminding people of why it is important to bother with taking responsibility for creating good government.  For many centuries, I'm sure they were the civics lesson for most people, reading and writing being pretty much for the ruling class and the clergy.

The long-term goal is to have good government.  We will have to think strategically and act tactically to get to make this happen. We will have to be effective doing both.  If we can, as a broad progressive movement, develop a shared sense of how to do that, we will be in charge for a generation.

Will impeachment be effective either strategically or tactically?  Perhaps, at a later time.  Not now.  

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 19, 2006 at 10:38 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink


There is no doubt that pushing for impeachment before hearings have been called is putting the cart before the horse. In the passion to hold Bush/Cheney accountable for "crimes and misdemeanors", those crimes have to be proven first. Nixon endured hearings beginning the summer of 1973. In August of 1974 he resigned, because it became clear that the final call on impeachment by the Senate was an inevitability.

Let the Democrats begin the job of governing. I want to see them show what they are made of (after all, I've been waiting 12 years for this). And is it possible for Charlie Rangel to be acting like any more of a jackass, calling for a reinstatement of the draft - after the House already defeated that bill last year by a vote of 402-2???

I really wish these people would stop embarassing us. The voters just gave a crystal clear signal: they want the Democrats to lead, to govern. Please Mr. Rangel, don't waste our time with anymore grandstanding. Do your part as chairman of Way & Means to rescind the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans, and help to get our economic house back in order.

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 19, 2006 11:45:22 PM

For what it is worth - I agree with your opposition to Impeachment. In my opinion, Congress has bigger fish to fry. We can't afford to waste 2 years on an Impeachment and never get a conviction, as happened with Clinton. Congress must kickoff with Palosi's 100 hour plan, then hopefully with undoing the self-serving legislation of the past 6 years and then pass additional progressive legislation. Selective hearings are definitely in order.

I guess you might call me a jackass too for supporting the Draft, even using a vote is 434 to 1 to support your position. I assume you are not in the class of people that populate our Armed Forces. If a draft, with no exceptions, were implemented, I believe war would end very quickly. People would not stand for their own children dying to support an occupation that followed a first strike and a questionably illegal war. I'd guess Charlie's suggestion includes the realization of the number of people of his race who are being killed under the flag of Patiotism and God Bless America.

That is my 2 cents. The good thing about the Blogs is that everyone is entitled to their own political opinion. Hopefully these ideas can be considered without the need for name-calling. I was at a Palistine/Isreal rally last night. A woman walked by me and my sign, smiled and then said softly, "You are ignorant." I smiled back and replied, "I love you, otherwise." Were these actions more civilized then perhaps her shouting, "Asshole," and me replying, "Bitch?" In the real case, basically we agreed to disagree on this issue without inflammatory, non-useful statements. Absent the obscenities, I believe that, if the two of us had agreed to have coffee together, we might have come even closer to understanding of each other and our positions. Mutual understanding is a big step toward a win-win solutions.


Posted by: jack Smith | Nov 20, 2006 5:04:57 AM

Jack - I understand your desire to get this war ended quickly. I share that desire. I engaged in numerous peaceful protests against this war before it started. My point is that Rangel's grandstanding is a waste of time because it will not "further the debate". He is not interested in actually reinstating the draft. He is trying to make a point, one he already made, and which resulted in a nearly unanimous vote in opposition. He needs to try a new tactic - say for example, actually having the debate itself. But as incoming chairman of Ways & Means, that is not really his portfolio. The head of the Armed Services committee should be the leader of that debate. And yes, Rangel is being a jackass. As that word appears in every dictionary, it is hardly an "obscenity". I'm sure the Republicans are having a field day with his repeat proposal, and are calling him much worse.

I really don't want to belabor the issue, because Lynn's post was really about the issue of impeachment and so I am wary of straying too far from that topic. But for what it's worth, my income puts me squarely in the lower-middle class. If we really had a military draft, the only thing that would prevent me from being called up is the fact that I am in my late 40's.

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 20, 2006 8:48:37 AM

As a draft dodger during the 60's and 70's, I feel a draft WITHOUT EXCEPTION that brings all people into the War, is essential to expedite an end to this war(s). I agree with you that our discussion should be held one on one over a beer or a coffee instead of this electronic venue.

Posted by: jack Smith | Nov 20, 2006 10:21:57 PM

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