Impeachment of a sitting President or Vice President is not something that should be taken lightly.
We all remember the circus of the Clinton Impeachment Hearings, how they dominated the news, nearly put the country on hold for months as a strongly-divided electorate took up sides along party lines.
The fact of the matter is, Clinton lied. However, that was no reason to remove him from office. He lied about a personal matter that had no bearing on our nation. Republicans saw an opportunity to distract a political rival and took it, marring Clinton's remaining years and sullying his name enough so that Gore refused to use him as a campaign asset, which may well have lent itself to the election of George W. Bush. So as far as the Republicans are concerned, Impeachment worked. It was purely partisan, purely dirty politics, and it did the job.
The other thing the Clinton Impeachment did was protect George Bush (or whoever would have won the Republican Nomination) from Impeachment himself. The idea being that if any articles of Impeachment were considered against a Republican President, no matter their merits, the specter of "Partisan Payback for Clinton!" could be raised and no one would take the hearings seriously.
So here we are in 2007 and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has brought a motion to the floor of the House to Impeach Vice President Cheney. Wisco has already discussed the odd circumstance wherein Republicans ended up supporting the bill and Democrats as a whole did not. Of course, in Washington D.C., things are not what they always seem. Republicans kept the matter alive in an attempt to embarrass the Democrats. Many people would scratch their head and wonder at the wisdom of such a strategy, but it seems to have worked. Democrats, faced with actually doing something about this administration, ran like frightened children into the arms of their mommy.
"Mommy! Make the big, bad Articles of Impeachment go away!"
Most people have a strong-enough understanding of the charges against Cheney, against Bush, against this administration. Lying to everyone in order to get us to go to War is a nice big start. But there are others. The fact is, Bush and Cheney have done things far worse than Clinton ever dreamed of. They truly have committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors against America. If ever there were a sitting President and Vice President who deserved, NEEDED, to be removed from office, it is this bunch.
But that's not why we should Impeach them.
We should Impeach them for the sake of our future.
Right now, the chatter among the Democratic elite is that we shouldn't waste our time on Impeachment. In an appearance on the Ed Schultz show, Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz warned that the issue would distract the Democratic Congress from their work:
"…remembering back to the dark days when the Republican Congress pursued impeachment against President Clinton, that is all that the media will focus on, that is all the attention that would be focused on in Congress, and we would not be able to spend the next 13 months focusing on the issues that are important to the American people…"
She also warned that it would hurt Democrats at the polls.
"…we will squander the opportunity to move this country in a new direction when what we should be focusing on are those issues I just listed and many others, and focusing our efforts on expanding the Democratic majority and electing a Democratic President."
Note that nothing in there indicates a reluctance to Impeach due to a lack of evidence of wrongdoing. Everyone knows crimes have been committed. Everyone knows that if the Democrats tried, they could very easily make the charges stick. It is, to quote the administration, a Slam Dunk.
But again, that's not why we need to Impeach them.
Quite frankly, if we wait out the last 12 months until the National Nightmare is over without taking action, America will never recover.
There is such a thing as the idea of crime and punishment. If you commit the crime, you will be given the punishment. It is at the bedrock of any legal system.
If Bush and Cheney waltz into the sunset (or onto Bush's nearly 100,000 acre ranch in Paraguay, which has no extradition treaty with America) in January 2009, they will have GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT.
Gotten away with the lies, the International gutting of our good name, the taking us to war, the appointing of unqualified hacks who render entire agencies sterile, the outing of a covert CIA agent, the blatant corruption, the spying on Americans, the highway robbery by their oil company friends, the devastation of our economy, the attempt to bring us into another war, and so much more.
That can't happen.
Not for them. Screw them. For the future.
If we let Bush and Cheney walk away unscathed, what does that say to our next President? To our government in twenty years, thirty years be they Democrat, Republican, or Whig? You want President Chelsea Clinton or President Jenna Bush to arbitrarily rule that it's now OK to ship errant skateboarders who leave marks on the lawn of an oil company CEO off to secret gulags in Andorra? I mean they left marks on his lawn! They're obviously TERRORISTS!
Bush and Cheney happily believe that there's nothing the President can do that is illegal. They've operated on that assumption. And to date, Congress and traditional media haven't moved a finger to stop them. Haven't really even said that, hey wait, there are THREE CO-EQUAL branches of government, and if the Executive branch over-reaches, they need to be stopped. We don't live in a monarchy. Not yet.
We're setting a precedent. If we don't try Bush and Cheney for their crimes now, how is any governing body in the future going to be able to do anything about abuses twenty years from now?
To Republicans I ask: Do you want Hillary Clinton with the kind of power we've given George Bush? Even if a Republican wins, they won't always win. Eventually, a Democrat will win. And they'll sit in the White House with as much power as Bush has. More, in fact. Because the groundwork will have already been laid, they just need to build on what Bush and Cheney have done.
Naomi Wolf wrote an incredible article for The Guardian wherein she outlined the 10 steps any dictator has to take to "destroy constitutional freedoms". In it, she points out that Bush and Cheney have effectively carried out the first 9 steps and paved the way for an effortless 10th step, should they ever desire to go there.
Our next President won't have to start from scratch.
That alone should be reason enough to Impeach Bush and Cheney.
It is IMPERATIVE that we don't allow history to give the Bush/Cheney Administration the epitaph of "They Got Away With It."
Justice must be served. To Congress I say, Bush and Cheney must be Impeached. Don't do it for what they've done. Don't do it for political purposes. Don't do it with an eye on 2008. In short, don't do it for yourself.
Do it for the children