On June 9th, überprogressive Congressman Dennis Kucinich submitted 35 separate articles of impeachment to the House of Representatives calling for the removal of George W. Bush from office (follow the link to read them). From Bush’s well-publicized offenses (Article III, Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War) to his less widely reported crimes (Article XXX, Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare; Article XX, Imprisoning Children), there is an airtight case to be made that Bush has been guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and that American lives have been lost because of it. However, Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said that impeachment is off the table, and Kucinich’s articles are now languishing in the Judiciary Committee. I called my representative, the excellent Rosa DeLauro, to see if there was any chance impeachment hearings would actually take place.
Her response came in the mail yesterday, and it killed any lingering hopes I had that the House would hold Bush accountable for his crimes. DeLauro acknowledges the illegality and incompetence of the administration’s dealings with Iraq and interrogation programs. She then outlines Kucinich’s case and the current status of the articles. However, when it comes time to take a position on them, she hedges:
Although this Administration’s term is coming to an end, you can be sure that I will continue to moniter the president’s policies and actions. I will use every opportunity in the coming months to encourage real oversight of the federal government and to hold accountable any member of the Bush administration who has engaged in wrongdoing.
We will soon have a new president and administration and it is my hope that this new administration will work with Congress to enact real reform and find solutions to the issues we are currently facing as a nation.
What this amounts to is that while Rep. DeLauro might take up the impeachment cause if it actually reaches the House floor, she will not make any special effort to shepherd it through the Judiciary through co-sponsoring it or publicly supporting it. She is content to merely let the clock run out on the Bush term and to hope the next president does a better job.
I am of two minds on this. I believe it is imperative that Congress not create a precedent of failed oversight that could lead to further violations by future administrations. However, I am enough of a pragmatist to realize the political risks of pursuing impeachment. Unfortunately, the Republican attempt to remove Bill Clinton from office was so petty and politically motivated that I fear ‘impeachment’ had become synonymous with ‘power grab’ in the minds of many people, and an attempt to remove him from office would serve only to tarnish the Democratic brand in what is otherwise a potential year of realignment.
Ultimately, while I would love to see impeachment proceedings held, I’ve become resigned to the fact that too may representatives share DeLauro’s point of view for it to happen. While the tendency among the netroots has occasionally been to demonize anti-impeachment Congresspeople, I believe there are far more important measures of performance. It would be very hard to find a significant vote where Rosa DeLauro has broken with the progressive community, and I feel very fortunate to have her as my representative. Yes, I disagree with her on this issue, but she and I are still on the same side against the Bush agenda, and I would be willing to sacrifice even the chance of holding Bush accountable in exchange for more representatives like her.