GOP Swept from Power in 2006 - Impeachment Looms
GOP Swept from Power in 2006 - Impeachment Looms
By Bernard Weiner and Ernest Partridge
Editors, The Crisis Papers
(Associated Press, Nov. 8, 2006) The Democrats didn't waste any time after their landslide victory in Tuesday's midterm election that put them in charge, with huge margins in both the House and Senate.
The incoming Democratic chairs of the various investigatory committees announced that subpoenas would be going out immediately to the White House for all documents relating to when and how the decision to attack Iraq was made; to how far up the chain of command the authorization for torture went; and whether Bush and Cheney and/or their subordinates lied to the Congress and the American People. Congressional committees also will be on the lookout for evidence of Administration involvement in war crimes, bribery and election fraud, Democratic officials said.
It is expected that bills of impeachment will be filed shortly thereafter against both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
If both Bush and Cheney are removed from office, the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, would become the President, as stipulated in the Presidential Succession Act of 1947; she would nominate a Vice President for approval by the Senate.
Based on polling of voters before and during the voting, according to political consultants for both major parties, the electorate clearly was expressing its revulsion at Bush Administration policies; voters said the key issues affecting their votes were their anger at the lies undergirding the Iraq War (now in its fourth year), the condoning of torture as American policy, and the current economic crisis.
These factors presumably led to the sweeping votes for Democrat (62%), and Green (8%), candidates around the country. Many of those voters, an estimated 20%, described themselves as "conservatives" who had supported Bush in 2004.
THE ROAD TO IMPEACHMENT
The sudden decline of the Republican Party and the likely downfall of the Bush-Cheney administration follows a cascade of catastrophes and unexpected reversals of fortune for the White House during the second Bush term.
THE ECONOMY: The American economy is in deep recession and, many economists fear, on the brink of depression. Heedless of warnings by economists from both parties, Bush and the Republican Congress continued its policy of deep tax cuts to the wealthy, the dismantling of social services, and huge deficits with no end in sight. Recognizing at last the unsustainability of these policies, the international financial community lost all confidence in the dollar, and, as a result, the value of the dollar against world currencies plummeted. Then the economic dominoes proceeded to fall. The price of imported goods skyrocketed and became unaffordable to ordinary Americans. International banks (primarily Chinese and Japanese) refused to continue their support of Bush's budget deficit which forced the US to raise interest rates dramatically. Consequently, debt-ridden US consumers have lost their homes, disposable family income has shrunk, businesses have closed, and unemployment is rising to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the thirties. However, this time the bankrupt US government can not supply unemployment compensation or other relief. The suffering public has put the blame for this disaster directly upon the Republicans and the Bush Administration.
THE MEDIA: After the 2004 election, it was widely believed that Republican-corporate control of the mainstream media had guaranteed a permanent Republican "lock" on the federal government. Not so. Soon thereafter, the public finally began to wake up to the fact that it had been lied to by the media and, just as important, that it had been denied vital information about the misdeeds of the Congress and the Administration. As a result, the media audience fell dramatically, creating a crisis in advertising revenue. In the meantime, the internet became the primary source of news to the public. Attempts by the Bush-friendly FCC and the Congress to stifle the internet failed in the face of public outcry. There was then a re-birth of investigative journalism which immediately received widespread support, thence advertising revenue. Investigative journalists then proceeded to uncover a rogue's gallery of "White House Horrors" -- the instigators of the Valerie Plame affair, the suppression of accurate intelligence information, the sellout of public resources and institutions to private "investors," unbid "sweetheart" contracts to firms such as Halliburton, and much more.
VOTING FRAUD: With the collapsing economy, the loss of media credibility, the continuing bad news from Iraq, and the re-emergence of investigative journalism, the public became more receptive to the idea that the 2000 and 2004 elections were fraudulent and thus that both Bush administrations were illegitimate. Because elections are administered on the state and municipal level, state and local governments were able to open criminal investigations of election fraud, and with these investigation effectively employed the powers of legal discovery, subpoena and the threat of perjury. Indictments followed and public demands for election integrity in 2006 become irresistible. Reliable exit polling became mandatory along with paper records of touch-screen balloting.
CIVIL LIBERTIES: Violations of civil liberties under the USA PATRIOT Act, which were tolerated in the abstract and when suffered at a distance by "enemy combatant" prisoners and resident Moslems, finally provoked outrage when applied to dissenting citizens. "Watch lists," the federal identity card, censorship, arbitrary arrests, blacklisting and the loss of careers and reputation, and the labeling of legal dissent as "subversive" or even "treason" -- all this finally bent the endurance of the public and the newly-liberated media past the breaking point. Because the PATRIOT Act evoked little protest and resistance during Bush's first term, the Administration greatly over-estimated the American public's willingness to accept these abuses. That false assessment of public opinion backfired spectacularly.
THE THEOCRACY: With the Congressional vote for stem-cell research in mid-2005 followed by Bush's veto and the subsequent Congressional over-ride, Bush's support among "Christians" shrank to die-hard fundamentalists (a minority), as moderate Christians, religious non-Christians and secularists rebelled against the religious extremism that had captivated the White House and Congress ever since Bush first took office in 2000.
THE DECLINE IN SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD-LEADERSHIP: Bush's disdain for science and education began to yield serious economic consequences, as cutting-edge research and development, primarily in environmental (e.g. global warming), energy and bio-technology, moved abroad, along with leading American researchers and graduate students. The usual influx of foreign scientists and students slowed to a trickle. The public paid little attention at first to this decline in international prestige, but corporate executives, industry, the media, and eventually politicians become acutely aware of the crisis, leading to an abandonment of support by these GOP stalwarts of the Bush Administration.
Few of these conditions are impeachable offenses as stipulated in the Constitution (Article 2, Section 4) -- i.e., "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." However, together they constitute a political climate conducive to impeachment. As political scientists have often remarked, "impeachment is a political act," which means that it can not go forward unless the Congress is willing. With the stunning outcome of this week's election, the Congress is apparently willing to proceed with the impeachment of the President and the Vice President. Immediately ahead is the task of compiling evidence that Bush and Cheney are, in fact, guilty of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
THE WHITE HOUSE RESPONDS
The first reaction from the White House to Tuesday's election results was curiously muted.
Said Press Secretary Scott McLellan: "The people have spoken and we have taken note. We will cooperate with the new Congressional leadership in all ways we can, consistent with our Constitutional responsibilities to protect and defend the national interests of the United States."
When asked directly whether this last phrase left wiggle room for the Administration to deny Congress the information it was seeking, McLellan gave a more ambiguous answer: "Of course, we will supply what it is necessary for the Congress to know. But we will not be party to a fishing expedition that might do injury to U.S. interests in the world or compromise our troops and covert operatives in the field."
When reminded by a journalist that two "senior White House" officials had revealed the CIA affiliation of covert agent Valerie Plame, thus endangering her and her contacts abroad, McLellan verbally attacked the reporter as "coming close to providing aid and comfort to the enemy" by questioning the Administration. He added: "Though the Democrat Party tends to forget it, our country is engaged in a war against terrorism, and all Americans should watch carefully what they say and do. Raising questions about the Administration's veracity and war-policies might make the terrorists think that the American government is weak and unable to confront them. This could make our country more vulnerable to attacks."
THE DEMOCRATS SPEAK OUT
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Ma.) replied with unusually frank language. "That response is simply scare-tactics bullbleep. If anyone is endangering America's national security, it is the Bush Administration with its arrogant, bullying behavior around the world, taking us into wars based on lies and deceptions; the fact is that since the U.S. invaded Iraq, and the tortures were revealed, more and more terrorists seem to have joined in attacking the United States."
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) added: "Midterm elections are referenda on the sitting Administration. The November 2006 election results make perfectly clear that the good citizens of America have had quite enough of the lies, deception, corruption and dirty tricks of the Bush Administration. It would behoove the White House to accept the judgment of the people. The election was a clear No-Confidence Vote in their leadership.
"One would have thought that the Bush Administration would have seen the handwriting on the wall as early as five months into their second term, with embarrassing legislative defeats, secret Iraq-war memos revealed in London, and the strains and open warfare amid their own coalition -- and thus would have chosen to govern more from the center. But, in their arrogance and hubris, they instead moved further to the right to please their neo-con, corporate and fundamentalist base. In the end, however, even segments of those constituencies deserted them, so much had the Administration botched their programs and policies, especially in economic areas where everyone's pocketbooks are affected.
"For the good of the country, and for what little is left of their reputations, Bush and Cheney should resign. If they do not, they can anticipate being dragged through the trauma of impeachment. My guess is that if they resign, they might be able to 'plea-bargain,' as it were, and the country would go easier on them for their crimes."
THE ROAD AHEAD
Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, said: "Normally, one would think that a defeat of this magnitude -- especially with so many conservatives withdrawing their support -- would lead Bush and Cheney to think seriously about resigning, rather than have to face impeachment. My guess is that eventually a group of prestigious Republicans in the Congress and from the corporate world will be forced to make the inevitable march to the White House to urge them, for the good of the party and the economy and the country, to step down.
"But Bush and Cheney and Rove and the rest of their posse -- Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, Chertoff, Negroponte, et al. -- are also thinking about possible jail terms, and perhaps even having to appear before international courts, and so I don't see Bush and Cheney resigning. Karl Rove will work overtime to create a defense, and go to a massive frontal attack against the Administration's Democrat opponents."
"As long as the Bush Administration remains in power," said Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, "they maintain control of the Justice Department, which, with Bush loyalist Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, could give them some leverage in the various court cases that may arise.
"My guess as to their political strategy is that they will fight impeachment with everything they have, and, if necessary, create a Constitutional crisis between the Executive and Legislative branches and hope that the Judiciary, which over the years they've packed with their appointees, will somehow bail them out at the last minute.
"But I don't think even that cynical strategy will work. Judges read election returns and there's no way they would want to be connected, even inferentially, with an Administration that is going down for the count.
"But this extremist crew will not go easily into their dark night. If they're going to go down, they probably are willing to take the country down with them."
"There is no way we would let them endanger America further," said incoming House Speaker Pelosi. "Rest assured" she said, "that we in the Congress, with the firm backing of the American people, will do everything in our power to get this reckless gang out of the White House as quickly as possible. If they start playing dirty tricks, the anger of the citizenry will grow against them even more. In short, after six years, we finally are seeing the end of their illegitimate rule, and the shining of a new era of hope and progress."
Well, friends, if you want to make something happen like the possible landslide defeat of the Bush Administration described above, it's time to crank up your activism NOW in preparation for the all-important 2006 midterm election. Just wishing for it, or starting to think about it a few months before the voting, won't make it happen. The time for political pressure and coalition-building -- and demanding honest vote-counting with hand-counted paper ballots -- is today. Organize, organize, organize!