If it weren’t so depressing, it would be entertaining to watch the loathed, ridiculed and remarkably unpopular Bush administration continue to run circles around the supposedly ascendant Democrats in Congress.
Now that Democrats have provided Bush with full summer funding for his outrageous and doomed escalation of the Iraq War, they are finding themselves incapable of stopping even that affront to the American public, which last November made it clear it wanted this bloody madness in Iraq to end.
Having accepted Bush’s terms—that cutting funds for the war is “undermining the troops”—the Democrats in Congress are now unable to challenge Bush’s new line—that they should provide even more money to the troops for raises. They are also vulnerable to the new pitch—that they should “listen to the generals” and give the escalation (still being called a “surge” after six full months) until November. All of this is obviously setting the stage for September, when Bush will come back to Congress with a 2008 supplemental funding request to fund the war through the rest of his sorry term of office.
Of course, come November, the generals, who know who gives out the promotions and who are loath to admit that they’ve lost yet another war, will accommodate their commander in chief and say that they need more time again—say until next February or March. And in this way they’ll string out the war, and keep the killing and dying going on, until Bush and Cheney can safely leave office and hand their mess to a new administration.
If the Democrats want to escape this trap of their own making, they are going to have to do something that has eluded Democrats for a generation—really back to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. They are going to have to stand up and be leaders. (Okay, Johnson was a war criminal and should have been impeached for the Gulf of Tonkin fraud, but he did stand up and lead on Civil Rights legislation, Medicare and the so-called War on Poverty.)
What Democrats have to do is heed the advice of retired Gen. William Odom, and declare that “supporting the troops” means bringing them safely home, and no longer stranding them in a hopeless and pointless war in Iraq. It means declaring that Bush and Cheney lied the country into this war and that he has no right to be trusted on anything he says about it today. They need to say that they are through funding this disaster and that come October 1, there will be no more money appropriated for war in Iraq—only for removing the U.S. from that country. Completely.
Democrats, to succeed, need to speak forthrightly to the American people and say that while they may have been suckered and intimidated into supporting the war effort for more than five years, they recognize now that it has to stop, and they are going to do it—for the sake of the troops, for the sake of America, and for the sake of the long-suffering Iraqi people. They also need to declare that the so-called War on Terror, beyond being the failure that it has been called by the latest National Intelligence Estimate, is also a fraud—one that has been shamelessly and intentionally used to frighten Americans (and their elected representatives) into surrendering freedoms and powers to the executive branch.
If they do all this, they will find their support rising again from its current dismal 23 percent support level.
If they really want to be popular, they will follow this up with an aggressive campaign to impeach both the president and vice president for a string of abuses of power, lies, obstruction and violations of law.
Some people have claimed that impeachment would be divisive. What a joke! With the president’s popular support today at 27-29 percent (depending upon the poll), and with Cheney’s support down in single or low double digits, it should be clear to even the dumbest member of Congress that impeachment, if presented properly as a defense of Constitutional government and democratic freedom, would be greeted with cheers across the nation and on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Don’t hold your breath though. Democrats—especially those in the leadership, but sadly, also the rest of the back benchers in both houses of Congress—are, with few exceptions, a spineless lot, so used to being bullied by Republicans that even with the GOP in self-destruct mode, they are still supine, crouched in defensive postures.
What to do? For starters, send notes of appreciation to the few Democrats who have stood up (be sure and copy House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Judiciary Chair John Conyers, and of course your own representative).
Need a list? It’s the members who have thus far dared to call for impeachment:
Representatives: Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) – author of Cheney impeachment bill HR 333
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
William Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Sam Farr (D-CA)
Bob Filner (D-CA)
Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL)
Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Jim Moran (D-VA)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Albert Wynn (D-MD)
Senator: Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Now go to ImpeachCheney.org and sign the petition.
And while we’re at it, a Federal District Court judge has just provided an object lesson in why Congress is foolish to ignore impeachment and instead to continue with the futile effort to “investigate” the Bush regime’s offenses. Judge John D. Bates, who was appointed to the federal bench in the District of Columbia by Bush in December 2001, was a counsel in the Whitewater Republican witchhunt against the Clinton’s in 1995-97. He proved his ideological mettle in 2002, shortly after donning his robes, by dismissing a lawsuit by the Government Accounting Office which was trying to gain access to the minutes of Vice President Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force. Now Judge Bates, true to form, has thrown out the damage suit against Cheney that was filed by outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Clearly, the judges that Bush has stacked the courts with—especially in the crucial D.C. district which would hear any cases involving disputes between Congress and the White House—are not going to rule in Congress’s favor. To go ahead with these investigations, and to file contempt charges in the courts, would be to risk rulings that would undermine the whole foundation of separation of powers, leaving Congress an empty shell.
It would be a disastrous act of betrayal against the Constitution for Democrats in Congress to run this risk, when there is a clear, and appropriate alternative that would force the courts to accede to Congressional authority: impeachment. For unlike other congressional investigations, impeachment has a clear and unambiguous Constitutional mandate, which all but the most corruptly partisan jurist would have to concede.