Representative Dennis Kucinich has succeeded in keeping alive his "privileged resolution" calling for the House Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney. The House Democratic leadership, listening to Beltway consultants who are experts at "triangulating" against the party's base, tried all manner of parliamentary tricks to table or kill HR-333. But these underhanded tactics failed after John Boehner and the Republicans' Beltway consultants told them they could milk political gain from helping Kucinich keep impeachment alive.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer were afraid of the political risks in bringing impeachment to the House floor; the GOP leaders thought they could rally their base to defend Cheney (who has an 11 percent approval rating) and score political points with full-throated denunciations of those mean, over-reaching Democrats in Congress. In both cases, the Beltway political wizards were dead wrong.
Impeachment should have never been taken "off the table." Impeachment is the only corrective that Congress holds to check runaway Executive power. With signing statements and Bush-Cheney cronies inside the Justice Department and with no Independent Counsel statute, the checks and balances of our system of government have been undermined.
John Yoo and David Addington's "legal opinions," (if one bothers to look at them), amount to Enabling Acts for the Executive in "time of war." They believe there are no limits on presidential power as Commander-in-Chief in wartime. The Bush legal geniuses, with Alberto Gonzales leading the way, claim the President has "inherent powers" to order torture, suspend habeas corpus, spy on Americans without warrants, and pick and choose which laws he will follow and which ones he won't. This kind of interpretation of presidential powers might be suitable grist for abstract discussions in a seminar at Pepperdine University, but all of these hair-brained notions are hogwash, and dangerous hogwash at that. And they run counter to the U.S. Constitution. Even the most cursory reading of anything James Madison wrote on the subject of executive power clearly shows that Dick Cheney's expansive views of the powers of the Executive Branch are totally un-American.
During the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln expanded presidential power, or during World War Two when Franklin D. Roosevelt did the same, neither president claimed they had "inherent" powers to do so. They made it clear the expanded Executive was a temporary emergency measure and the Constitution would be set back to its pre-war normalcy after the crisis abated.
Bush and Cheney claim the opposite. They say we are now in a war that is never-ending (like a George Orwell novel), and that even without the "War on Terror," the president can do anything he wants, effectively nullify acts of Congress, bring the nation to war on false pretenses, squander our national treasure with lucrative contracts to cronies, and so on.
What does a president or vice president have to do nowadays to get impeached?
The smart, Enlightenment-era white guys, with their powdered wigs and silver snuff boxes, who invented the United States of America in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia went to great lengths to prevent the possibility of an imperial King George III-type presidency. The founders tried to equip the new nation with the safeguards that would prevent exactly what we have seen happen the last six years. They even recognized that it would be during war when the Executive would make its power grab. They made sure the war powers were in the Congress. More importantly, they gave the Congress the power to impeach a wayward president or vice president if they violated the Constitution.
It is time to remind Bush and Cheney that they live in a republic and not a monarchy. Dennis Kucinich has done the nation a favor. History will be kind to him for doing so. The Executive Branch must be held accountable now and the corrective of impeachment cannot be postponed to wait around for the 2008 elections.
Those Democratic leaders who are hell bent on playing it safe so they can get Hillary Clinton in office in January 2009 so she can abuse all of the powers that Bush and Cheney have horded for the Executive Branch is the wrong path to take. The system is out of balance and it will not bode well for the future to have these imbalances continue no matter what party happens to be in power.
Meanwhile, Senators Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein capitulated to all of the worst aspects of the abuse of power of the Bush White House by breaking ranks with the Senate Judiciary Committee and voting to confirm Michael "let's waterboard 'em" Mukasey as the new Attorney General. Their actions in giving Bush another victory demoralizes the Democratic Party's base and makes people want to give up on the Democrats. Ron Paul, who opposed the Iraq war all along, is raising huge amounts of money and I hope Dennis Kucinich does too. It should show Democratic leaders that they are out of touch with the electorate, especially the base of the Democratic Party. I don't care about the 2008 elections as much as I care about the U.S. Constitution.
The Democrats were handed the Congress in 2006 to put the brakes on the Bush-Cheney juggernaut. They have thus far failed to do so, and therefore do not deserve to be re-elected in 2008.
Dick Cheney was a principal actor in the lies and fabrications that brought the United States to war in Iraq on false pretenses. That war has now cost the nation nearly 4,000 American dead, 18,000 wounded, and will cost over $1 trillion. It has swelled the profits of Cheney's old company, Halliburton, while destabilizing a large swathe of the Middle East. The Iraqi people have suffered the brunt of this illegal aggression. Cheney deserves to be impeached, removed from office, and then tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity when he becomes a private citizen again.
Here is a list of the 86 Democrats who voted against impeaching Dick Cheney, time to give them a call:
NY-5 Ackerman, Gary [D]
PA-4 Altmire, Jason [D]
NJ-1 Andrews, Robert [D]
NY-24 Arcuri, Michael [D]
WA-3 Baird, Brian [D]
GA-12 Barrow, John [D]
IL-8 Bean, Melissa [D]
CA-31 Becerra, Xavier [D]
NV-1 Berkley, Shelley [D]
CA-28 Berman, Howard [D]
AR-1 Berry, Robert [D]
GA-2 Bishop, Sanford [D]
NY-1 Bishop, Timothy [D]
OR-3 Blumenauer, Earl [D]
OK-2 Boren, Dan [D]
IA-3 Boswell, Leonard [D]
VA-9 Boucher, Frederick [D]
FL-2 Boyd, F. [D]
KS-2 Boyda, Nancy [D]
FL-3 Brown, Corrine [D]
CA-18 Cardoza, Dennis [D]
MO-3 Carnahan, Russ [D]
PA-10 Carney, Christopher [D]
FL-11 Castor, Kathy [D]
SC-6 Clyburn, James [D]
TN-5 Cooper, Jim [D]
CA-20 Costa, Jim [D] IL-12 Costello, Jerry [D] CT-2 Courtney, Joe [D] AL-5 Cramer, Robert [D] TX-28 Cuellar, Henry [D] AL-7 Davis, Artur [D] TN-4 Davis, Lincoln [D] CA-53 Davis, Susan [D] CO-1 DeGette, Diana [D] MA-10 Delahunt, William [D] CT-3 DeLauro, Rosa [D] MI-15 Dingell, John [D] IN-2 Donnelly, Joe [D] TX-17 Edwards, Thomas [D] IN-8 Ellsworth, Brad [D] IL-5 Emanuel, Rahm [D] NY-17 Engel, Eliot [D] CA-14 Eshoo, Anna [D] NC-2 Etheridge, Bob [D] PA-2 Fattah, Chaka [D] MA-4 Frank, Barney [D] AZ-8 Giffords, Gabrielle [D] TX-20 Gonzalez, Charles [D] TN-6 Gordon, Barton [D] NY-19 Hall, John [D] CA-36 Harman, Jane [D] FL-23 Hastings, Alcee [D] SD-0 Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [D] NY-27 Higgins, Brian [D] IN-9 Hill, Baron [D] TX-15 Hinojosa, Rubén [D] PA-17 Holden, Tim [D] MD-5 Hoyer, Steny [D] NY-2 Israel, Steve [D] LA-2 Jefferson, William [D] TX-30 Johnson, Eddie [D] WI-8 Kagen, Steve [D] RI-1 Kennedy, Patrick [D] MI-5 Kildee, Dale [D] WI-3 Kind, Ronald [D] FL-22 Klein, Ron [D] TX-22 Lampson, Nicholas [D] RI-2 Langevin, James [D] CA-12 Lantos, Tom [D] WA-2 Larsen, Rick [D] CT-1 Larson, John [D] MI-12 Levin, Sander [D] IL-3 Lipinski, Daniel [D] CA-16 Lofgren, Zoe [D] NY-18 Lowey, Nita [D] MA-9 Lynch, Stephen [D] FL-16 Mahoney, Tim [D] MA-7 Markey, Edward [D] GA-8 Marshall, James [D] UT-2 Matheson, Jim [D] CA-5 Matsui, Doris [D] NY-4 McCarthy, Carolyn [D] NC-7 McIntyre, Mike [D] CA-11 McNerney, Jerry [D] FL-17 Meek, Kendrick [D] LA-3 Melancon, Charles [D] CA-7 Miller, George [D] AZ-5 Mitchell, Harry [D] WV-1 Mollohan, Alan [D] KS-3 Moore, Dennis [D]
CT-5 Murphy, Christopher [D] PA-8 Murphy, Patrick [D] PA-12 Murtha, John [D] NY-8 Nadler, Jerrold [D] MA-2 Neal, Richard [D] WI-7 Obey, David [D] MA-1 Olver, John [D] MN-7 Peterson, Collin [D] ND-0 Pomeroy, Earl [D] WV-3 Rahall, Nick [D] TX-16 Reyes, Silvestre [D] TX-23 Rodriguez, Ciro [D] AR-4 Ross, Mike [D] NJ-9 Rothman, Steven [D] MD-2 Ruppersberger, C.A. [D] OH-17 Ryan, Timothy [D] CO-3 Salazar, John [D] CA-39 Sanchez, Linda [D] CA-47 Sanchez, Loretta [D] MD-3 Sarbanes, John [D] CA-29 Schiff, Adam [D] PA-13 Schwartz, Allyson [D] GA-13 Scott, David [D] PA-7 Sestak, Joe [D] NC-11 Shuler, Heath [D] NJ-13 Sires, Albio [D] MO-4 Skelton, Ike [D] WA-9 Smith, Adam [D] AR-2 Snyder, Victor [D] OH-18 Space, Zackary [D] SC-5 Spratt, John [D] TN-8 Tanner, John [D] CA-10 Tauscher, Ellen [D] MS-4 Taylor, Gene [D] MS-2 Thompson, Bennie [D] MA-5 Tsongas, Niki [D] CO-2 Udall, Mark [D] NM-3 Udall, Tom [D] MD-8 Van Hollen, Christopher [D] IN-1 Visclosky, Peter [D] MN-1 Walz, Timothy [D] FL-20 Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [D] CA-30 Waxman, Henry [D] OH-6 Wilson, Charles [D].