Before the election, many Democrats were asked a very serious question: Would they attempt to impeach President Bush if they won the election?
Many demurred; they said they wanted to focus on making changes America needed and Americans wanted. They said impeachment was irrelevant and would only serve to further divide Americans.
The Democrats had already made clear they did not support an official reprimand of the president. In March of 2006, Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wis., introduced a proposal to censure President Bush for authorizing the phone-tapping program. Not a single Senate Democrat expressed support for the measure.
A censure, for all intents and purposes, is a verbal slap on the wrist. If Democrats would not do that a year ago, then it was completely acceptable to believe them when they said impeachment was not a primary concern. But it may be time to reconsider.
Republicans, naturally, do not much care for the idea of impeachment, evidenced by an exchange between Bill O’Reilly and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.
On March 20, the “fair and balanced” O’Reilly asked Anderson why President Bush deserves to be impeached; O’Reilly proclaimed, “But there’s got to be a crime in order to impeach anybody.” Anderson refuted the point, noting “high crimes and misdemeanors” is universally accepted as meaning political crimes, not necessarily legal crimes.
O’Reilly responded: “With all due respect, Mayor, I think I know more than you do about American history and the Constitution.”
O’Reilly then told Anderson he did not “know what he was talking about,” he was “foolish,” “subverting his own country,” “an irresponsible person,” and “a kook.” He also said Anderson was “insane” and his “interpretation of the Constitution is kooky.”
Article II Section 4 of our Constitution: “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Attorney and political blogger Ken Sanders wrote of the meaning of the phrase in 2005: “They are abuses of power or the kinds of misconduct which can only be committed by a public official by virtue of the unique power and trust which he holds. Thus, high crimes and misdemeanors refer to major offenses against our very system of representative democracy.”
Ilona Nickels, C-SPAN Congressional Scholar, wrote in May 2000: “The Framers of the Constitution deliberately put impeachment into the hands of the legislative branch, thus transforming it from strictly a matter of legal definition to a matter of political judgment.”
Bill O’Reilly is categorically wrong in his Constitutional “knowledge,” and owes Mayor Anderson an apology.
As for reasons President Bush could be impeached: The White House authorized the leaking of a CIA agent’s name to the press, destroying a woman (and patriot) whose job it was to prevent rogue nations from getting “loose nukes.” Our VA hospitals, notably Walter Reed but many others around the country, are in serious decay. He allowed eight federal prosecutors to be fired for overtly political reasons.
Let us not forget the warrantless wiretapping, reading of e-mails, and the tracking of Internet use by millions and millions of Americans, not just “terrorists.” This administration has allowed and defended torture, destroyed habeas corpus, and eliminated laws that prevent the military from being used as a domestic police force, thus making the ability to declare martial law much easier. It is worth noting this would not have been possible without the rubber-stamping Republican Congress from 2002 to 2006.
And on Sept. 11, 2001, when President Bush was told, “The country is under attack,” he sat for seven minutes. He sat for seven minutes in a time when nuclear missiles can reach us in a matter of minutes. Sitting for seven minutes may have been President Bush’s most egregious neglect of duty, as horrible as many others are.
It is not just Democrat partisanship, either. On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said Bush believes there are no checks on his Iraq policy. “This is not a monarchy. There are ways to deal with it. And I would hope the president understands that.”
In late 2005, President Bush said, “I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.” Barney is his Scottish Terrier… and reports suggest even he is beginning to lose faith in the President.
Ryan Speaker is a senior history major. His column appears every Wednesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.