Thursday, July 26, 2007
Via Kevin Drum, a seriously, terribly horribly bad idea from M.J. Rosenberg:
The Constitutional remedy of impeachment is no longer what it once was. For better or worse, the Republicans changed it, for all time, when they impeached Clinton over, essentially, nothing.
And Clinton changed it as well. Impeachment not only did not end his Presidency; it did not hurt his standing with the public. His numbers stayed high, even improved some, and he left office on schedule, a very popular President.
In other words, impeachment is no longer the political nuclear bomb it once was, especially if one knows in advance that conviction and removal from office is unlikely to occur.
Accordingly, impeachment proceedings are essentially the best means of getting information to the public which is otherwise unavailable.
What the fuck? With the possible exception of the swift boat debacle, nothing in the last decade of politics has been as cynical, ugly, opportunistic, cheap, debilitating or indefensible as Clinton's impeachment. The sanctimony on parade, the wild inflationary rhetoric, the complete and intentional paralytic lockdown of the media and the government - all of it occurred because of EXACTLY THE KIND OF THINKING DISPLAYED IN THE QUOTE ABOVE. This metaphor is bound to offend many of my remaining 4 readers (hi, mom), but: it's like hitting on a rape victim because you know she's not a virgin. Just because the GOP debased something that was literally supposed to be the absolute last option, does not mean that such debasement enters the arsenal as an accepted or acceptable tactic.
Note also that he indulges in a lazy and self-serving shortcut to declare the cheapening of impeachment as a fixed reality "for all time" because of the single example of the Clinton impeachment. "For all time?" Really? By that argument we should stop vilifying Guantanamo, because Roosevelt interned the Japanese, thus compromising 4th and 5th amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and conviction without due process "for all time." It's facile bullshit.
Yes, I know, you get big cheers from the lefty backbenches when you deploy that idea, and hell, you could probably convince me there have been some real impeachable offenses during the last 6 years, but if that's so, make the case. Don't just think abstractly about how useful a tactic it is. But this - "especially if one knows in advance that conviction and removal from office is unlikely to occur" is unforgiveable. Impeachment is the last line of defense. Rosenberg's coy 'especially' would permanently reduce it to theater.
As Drum said: "This might be the worst argument in favor of impeachment of all time."
...grumble grumble grumble fucking swift boat bullshit....grumble....