I have been steadfastly against trying to impeach George W. Bush, even though he is clearly the worst president in the modern history of America.
These were my main reasons for feeling that way: 1) Politically, I saw impeachment as absolutely impossible to bring off. 2) As bad as Bush is, I don't want to see America turn into some kind of parody banana republic, in which the opposition party tries to impeach every president. 3) America knew what the Shrub was selling, and re-elected him, so we got what we deserve.
Plus, I felt that any effort to impeach the rascal would divert attention from the very real agenda of trying to stop his criminal war. And finally, what if you did manage to remove him? You'd get the puppet master himself, the sneering Darth Cheney, widely regarded to be the brains of the current Reich. Not only that, he would be eligible to run for re-election, and given the Democrats' penchant for political suicide, that's a risk I don't think anyone wants.
Yet I am beginning to think I was wrong.
Quite possibly, I may have been thinking too much like a political insider, or a wimp, or both. The fact is that the simpering George W. and his sidekick Dick clearly deserve impeaching, if anyone ever did. Not only that, there seems to be more sentiment to throw the bums out than official Washington knows.
Karl Gregory, the distinguished civil rights activist and retired economics professor at Oakland University, has helped move me on this issue by arguing that while congressional Democrats have said "impeachment is off the table," lots of people in the real world may not be willing to accept that.
"Do not underestimate the pressure for impeachment. The Congress is against it now, but pressure is building up and the Congress will respond to sufficient pressure if that is mobilized," he wrote to me.
John Nichols completed my conversion with an article in last week's The Nation magazine. State legislatures have the authority to propose impeachment, he points out, and legislators in a number of states are trying to do just that.
Three dozen towns in Vermont have passed resolutions calling on Congress to impeach and remove both the puppet and the puppet master.
And then last month, Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democratic congressman from the Cleveland area, cleverly introduced articles of impeachment ... not against the Shrub, but against his vice president, curled-lip Dick Cheney.
Why is he doing this? He told Congress, "because I believe the vice president's conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation." Well, no shit. Of course he has, from the moment he put his claw on the Bible on Jan. 20, 2001. But is that an impeachable offense?
Maybe not in itself. But Kucinich says: "Richard Cheney had purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and the Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the armed forces against the nation of Iraq."
Those are, in fact, the exact words of Kucinich's first article of impeachment. He also alleges that Cheney did exactly the same to deceive us "about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida."
His third article of impeachment has a note of urgency. As the congressman told Congressional Quarterly, "It became obvious to me that this vice president, who was a driving force for taking the United States into a war against Iraq under false pretenses, is once again rattling the sabers against Iran with the same intent to drive America into another war."
That last may be hard to prove. And proving that "rattling the sabers" against any nation is an impeachable offense may be even harder, especially when that country is Iran. But the first two charges certainly need airing.
Would having hearings to see if, in fact, there was anything impeachable about Cheney's conduct harm Congress' ability to get anything else done? Nichols argues that it wouldn't. "The Watergate Congress was highly efficient, and Democrats had one of their best years ever at the polls after pressuring Richard Nixon out of office."
Increasingly, it's hard to see what we would be losing by plunging ahead with a massive investigation of the process that took us into this senseless and insane war, a war that has ruined Iraq and done our country untold harm.
If nothing else, shining light onto the war we were deceived into might help us escape another one. After all, it's not as if the Democrats are close to stopping this war. They have been trying clumsily to get a timetable for ending it, though it's clear that Bush will veto any bill that sets a date for doing so.
What may well be a threat is that the Democrats, especially in the Senate, may end up being co-opted into some kind of support for continuing the atrocity that is our military presence in Iraq. Too many of them are still terrified of being thought of as "not supporting the troops." Well, the best way to support the surviving troops is not to feed them into the meat grinder that has eaten 3,400 American soldiers, far more people than were killed on Sept. 11, an attack with which Saddam Hussein had nothing to do.
George Bush has needlessly killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden, who remains at large. He has totally destabilized Iraq, probably for many, many years, and killed tens, or more likely, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
He also intends to kill more, of them and of us. And for what?
Well, Bush did get Saddam and his sons, and showed up or avenged Daddy Bush, who didn't invade Baghdad. Why now does the Shrub want to continue this war, which has already lasted longer than World War II? For nothing, except maybe in the hope that the Iraqis who are blowing up our too-lightly armored vehicles will suddenly all become freedom sensations, ready to establish little replicas of the Texas Legislature and willing to sell their oil cheap to Halliburton.
Richard Nixon looks like a candidate for ACLU man of the year in comparison. Sorta makes bugging a bunch of loser politicians at the Watergate Hotel look pretty damn tame, doesn't it? Should Bush and Cheney both be impeached, removed from office, and sent off to Abu Ghraib?
Damn straight they should. Can that be done? Well, I still strongly doubt it. But I no longer doubt that citizens should try to call them to account.
Alternative summer camp: Dawn Wolfe, the merry communications director for the Triangle Foundation, tells me that they are running the only summer camp for LBGT teenagers in the nation. "It's only in its second year, and we've already been able to take it national, and we're raising as much as we can so no young person is turned away for lack of funds," she told me.
The concept makes sense, given the problem any "different" kid has with bullying, especially in a camp-like setting. Parents who are interested ought to contact Triangle and ask about this. The camp is for kids ages 13-17, and will be held between Aug. 14 and Aug. 19 somewhere in northern Michigan. Sources say that Gary Glenn, head mouthpiece of the homophobic American Family Association, will not be considered for camp counselor this year.Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org