Impeachment: Winning by Losing
The Crisis Papers
March 13, 2007
Why not impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office?
Among those who devoutly wish that these two be separated from their offices, the most prominent reason for resisting impeachment is that even if a bill of impeachment were voted in the House of Representatives, conviction and removal from office by the Senate will almost certainly fail. So why begin an endeavor that is doomed at the start? So argue such worthy observers as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Randi Rhodes and John Dean. Until recently, I concurred with this opinion.
These skeptics would have a point if Senate conviction and removal from office were the sole objective and consequence of impeachment, as the Republican regulars and their compliant enablers in the mainstream media would have us believe. Once again, by assuming that removal from office is the be-all and end-all of impeachment, the Democrats and many of their progressive supporters and commentators have carelessly consented to play the GOP game by the GOP rules. They have, as George Lakoff might put it, thoughtlessly adopted their opponents’ “framing” of the impeachment issue. They have, to put it bluntly, been suckered again, as they have all too many times in the past. When will they ever learn?
These Democrats, et al, seem to pay little attention to the potential benefits of an unsuccessful impeachment. These benefits include the uncovering and publicizing of the Bushevik crimes and the consequent educating of the public. This would, in turn, lead to the discrediting of the mainstream media and the devastation of the Republican Party, resulting in a Democratic landslide in the next election. In short, a loss in the Senate trial might be far outweighed by the benefits of the investigations leading up to a House bill of impeachment and the subsequent debate in the Senate trial. A “win” via a loss.
The Republican stalkers of Bill Clinton were well aware that the process of impeachment might well be more significant than the outcome of conviction and removal. After all, the
The Democrats must stop fretting about a likely failure in the Senate and put their eyes on the prize of the results of Congressional investigation, of testimony under oath, and of the unavoidable publicity that would result therefrom. Once the worm-can of Bushevik crimes and treason is opened, those worms will never be re-canned. And who knows, once the high crimes and misdemeanors are exposed to the sunlight of open and public Congressional hearings and debate, the “impossible” Senate conviction just might turn out to be quite possible. After all, all that is required is the defection of seventeen GOP senators. And bear in mind that twenty-two Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2008. They might find themselves very hard-pressed in their re-election campaigns to justify a vote for acquittal.
Today about half of the public approves of impeachment provided they are convinced that Bush and Cheney lied to get us into war – which, in fact, they did. Most of the “stubborn third” that still approves of Bush, along with those undecided and indifferent (thanks, in part, to the mainstream media), are simply not informed of the facts. Once impeachment is set in motion, the facts will “out.”
So let the facts come out in Congressional hearings and debates – e.g., the illegal wire-taps, the Downing Street memos, the lies that led to war ( about Saddam’s alleged WMDs, the non-existent African uranium shipments, Saddam’s alleged ties to al Qaeda) , the violations of Constitutionally guaranteed rights, violation of oaths of office (failure to “protect and defend the Constitution of the US”), the Plame affair, etc. Then approval of Bush will likely fall below 20%, with an irresistible momentum in public opinion to throw the rascals out.
As a consequence:
1. If impeachment is put back “on the table” and the House acts, first come the investigations, the testimony under oath, the arguments in the House (and on CSPAN at least, and the mainstream media, however muted). “The worm-can” will be opened.
2. The mainstream media will be forced to report these hearings.. Those that do not (e.g., FOX), will lose audience and revenue. If (as is likely) these events are under-reported and distorted, the failure and partisanship of the mainstream media, past and present, will be exposed. The commercial media will then face a difficult dilemma: resume responsible journalism or go broke. In the Soviet Union, the prospect of financial loss was not a problem, since the party media – Pravda, Izvestia and Gostelradio – were not required to make a profit. Even so, their lies and distortion eventually destroyed their credibility, as discerning Russians turned to foreign sources of news and the unauthorized, underground media, “Samizdat.” That might well be the consequence of an attempted media blackout of impeachment investigations and debate.
3. GOP opposition to impeachment in the House and to conviction in Senate will prove to be costly. Those in Congress who vote against impeachment and conviction may lose their seats. The defection of seventeen GOP Senators may no longer be unthinkable, once the evidence comes out and is publicized. Remember that Nixon’s impeachment and conviction were first believed to be impossible. Then, as the truth came out, they became probable and eventually inevitable, as the Republican Members of Congress and Senators defected. Facing certain impeachment and conviction, Nixon resigned.
4. Once that worm can is opened, still other unresolved and explosive issues might be re-opened. Among them, the Anthrax attack of 2001 and (at long last) election fraud in the past four national elections. (Cf. my The Bombs in the Basement.)
5. Finally, once Bush and Cheney are ensnared in a struggle to avoid impeachment, conviction and removal, the Bushevik assault on the Constitution and our rights, and the neo-con's dreams of empire, will thankfully be stalled.
Accordingly, chances are that a resolution of impeachment in the House will be a triumph for liberalism and reform, and a disaster for the regressives and the GOP, despite, or even because of, failure to convict in the Senate.
Summing up: “You’ll never win in the Senate” is precisely the argument upon which the Busheviks want the Democrats and the public to focus. If the Busheviks succeed with this misdirection, they will win: there will be no impeachment. To date, Pelosi and Reid have fallen into the trap, as has much of the progressive commentariat.
Time now to step out of the frame imposed by the GOP and the media. Loss of the impeachment trial in the Senate is of lesser importance. Investigation, testimony and disclosure of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” is the greater prize.
And the sooner, the better!
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".
Going to be out having a little fun this weekend...see y'all for the Sunday Poetry Series.