Friday, January 30, 2004

But Impeachment has that funny aftertaste

A few thoughts on the Impeach article...

Bonifiz says:
.But today we face an extraordinary moment in United States history. The president of the United States launched a premeditated, first-strike invasion of another country, the likes of which this nation has never before seen.

I don't know about that. We have a pretty awful track record on allowing the Executive Branch to engage in all kinds of military adventures without a declaration of war from Congress, and no one got impeached. He doesn't spend any time digging any of them up and arguing that this is fundamentally different on the merits, he just asserts it. The Gulf of Tonkin leaps to mind as a fair analogy of today's situation.

I certainly agree that a declaration of war should be the standard, that it is more consistent with the Constitution than these funding measures they pass in lieu of a declaration, and that this President deserves a good, fat, impeachment up the side of his dome. But arguing that he has done something worse than some of the shit other President's have done in using military force without invoking the War clause in the constitution seems pretty shaky.

Congress has a law on the books, the War Powers Act, that tries to address this issue. It gives the President some discretion to respond to crisis, but requires that Congress approve any long term military hijinks. It's a dead issue in Congress, and has been since they passed the damn thing. But it illustrates how the modern incarnations of the Congress and the Presidency in the Post WWII world have struggled to reconcile this issue with the fairly clear requirements of the Constitution.

In short, it's not as clear cut as he makes out to be, even if Congress was disposed towards considering it. And the standard cooked up by the GOP in 98 to impeach President Clinton is a horrible standard that demeans the whole process.

It's an election year, why give the President something more to rally the troops behind? Why not just vote him out of office? Impeachment seems like a weapon that can cut both ways here.

Now, if the Plame Grand jury reveals some cover up conspiracy that leads to top of the food chain, or Dick Cheney is faced with extradition from a European court, now we are talking something different. That might be something that changes the Paradigm.

What should happen is that the majority in Congress should be turned out of power by the voters because they have failed to represent the interests of their constituents, and to protect the essential role of Congress in our republic. They have done this for cynical, partisan reasons. The President is guilty I think of, among a list of other things, perverting his role as CINC to extend his political dominance, and that this threatens our democratic traditions. But Congress is an accomplice to this crime, and so Impeachment seems like a strange device in this circumstance.

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