It’s become obvious to even the most casual observer, who isn’t a Bush/Cheney Kool-Aid Kid™, that laws have been broken and continue to be broken by members of the Bush / Cheney Administration. From the Op-Ed page of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal:
In theory, President Bush is sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. In reality, he has treated federal law as a menu from which he picks and chooses those laws he likes, while ignoring those that do not suit his taste.
That royalist attitude may soon inspire a constitutional confrontation unrivaled in U.S. history.
At the moment, the president’s penchant for ignoring laws he finds inconvenient is best displayed in the standoff with Congress over subpoenas. Congress has demanded the sworn testimony of White House officials as part of an investigation into the Justice Department; the White House is refusing to allow that testimony, citing executive privilege.
In itself, that conflict is hardly unusual; it continues a traditional contest of wills between presidents and Congress that goes back to the earliest days of the Republic. The conflict is so standard that federal law lays out a clear process for resolving it. If witnesses refuse to honor congressional subpoenas and are found in contempt, the matter is referred to the U.S. attorney from Washington, D.C., “whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.”
The wording of that law doesn’t give the U.S. attorney any leeway. It doesn’t say that he or she “can” or “may” bring it before the grand jury. It says he or she “shall” bring the matter to the grand jury, so the courts can resolve the conflict between the other two branches of government.
Bush, however, claims the right to ignore that law. He not only refuses to allow his aides to testify, he refuses to allow the U.S. attorney to refer the matter to the grand jury, as the law says he must. In essence, Bush is denying Congress access to the courts as an impartial arbiter of their dispute.
It’s visible for all to see – a basic lack of respect for the law of the land is fostered by those two good ‘ol boys at the top. And, it most definitely trickles down. There are dozens of examples of this disrespect in action, from the use of signing statements to Gonzales most recent testimony to Cheney’s game of “Catch Me If You Can” where he was a part of the Executive Branch, then he wasn’t, then he was again. The most egregious example in my opinion is the joint appearance, not under oath, of Bush and Cheney before the 9/11 Commission. Does it make any sense that the investigation of the most devastating attack on US soil in the history of the nation did not have sworn testimony from the President and Vice President?
The back bone for this hubris is a simple game of shell; wrong doing by the Administration really doesn’t exist. It’s a phantom created by the Evil Librul Media. Even better, if such wrong doing really does exist, it’s justified, because it’s alright to break the laws and disregard constitutional process in pursuit of right wing ideology. In many ways, it’s a Mafia like existence. For decades the Mafia was a shadow organization whose very existence was questioned. “The Mafia doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.” Such went the argument, that was fostered by the Mafia itself. But, today we know that the Mafia did and does indeed exist. We know that laws were broke, people were murdered. And, today, even though there are those who would have us believe that no laws have been broken by the Cheney White House, this is not the case in reality. And, the possibility of impeachment has been brought forth a number of times in a number of different manners.
The primary problem with impeachment is actually choosing who to go after. Bush? Cheney? Gonzales? It’s a mess. Ultimately, without someone going Sammy the Bull on the White House, it will be next to impossible to get an impeachment to stick. It’s important to remember that the Clinton impeachment proceedings were not a foregone conclusion of laws broken and complicity on tape (as was the case with Watergate). The Clinton impeachment was at it’s center a well placed trap, the culmination of a smear campaign called the “Arkansas Project” funded by partisans whose primary goal was to control Clinton by intimidation and to end his presidency. It was both a political ploy meant to pressure him as well as create an atmosphere in which to launch a counter campaign. Scandals are great fodder for dirty campaigns. This goes both ways of course, and part of the current impeachment movement against the Cheney cabal is a knee jerk response to the Clinton impeachment. It’s unavoidable.
In the end, the populace didn’t support the full removal of Clinton from office for lying about sex, and it went no farther than being a procedural footnote. But, it empowered the Bush campaign to run on a platform of bringing moral values back to the White House. And, it worked to a great degree.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this one unfolds. But, the important thing to remember in regard to impeachment is that the crime must be provable and rock solid. There’s the rub… Any impeachment proceedings against the current administration must be defined by the law and more than simply a political vendetta. The American people will know the difference.
Over at Talk Left, Big Ten Democrat has a post that pretty much sums up where this entire issue is at the moment.