Friday, August 17, 2007

Why Now?

The Democratic leadership in the House and Senate did accomplish one thing in the past eight months: they’ve conclusively demonstrated that it makes almost no difference which party controls the House and Senate. For this, they’ve earned approval ratings even lower than those garnered by the Republicans in 2006.

Does this mean that 2008 won’t be the cakewalk it should be for the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity? Probably not. Dashed expectations breeds contempt. But there are also growing numbers of voters who realize that if our country must be ruled by corporate ass kissers, it’s better that they be the ones that the corporate assholes prefer. Normally, that would be the Republicans. But thanks to the incompetence of the Cheney/Bush administration, the usual expectation has been stood on its head. Along with the fact that the Republicans are fielding the most pitiful collection of contenders for the nomination imaginable, the preferences of our country’s more enlightened “business leaders” have become the Democrats’ best hope.

Still, there’s one thing that the Democratic leadership is probably right about: that were impeachment proceedings to begin now against Cheney and Bush – proceedings they have blocked despite overwhelming grassroots support for them -- the effort would fail because the Senate would not convict. There is always the possibility, of course, that impeachment proceedings would unleash a dynamic that would cause enough Republicans to defect (the only way anything worthwhile can be achieved in our Democratic-controlled legislative branch). But it is unlikely. Is this a reason not to go forward with impeachment?

Hardly. It would be wrong to make too much of Karl Rove’s departure. He can do as much harm from Texas as from the bowels of the White House. And, as Bush’s brain, he was always more a bathetic figure than the infallible wizard Democrats blamed for their self-induced defeats in 2000, 2002 and, especially, 2004. Still, he’s one of the last of the major rats to desert Bush’s sinking ship, putting even more power in Dick Cheney’s hands. Cheney is all that’s left except, of course, for the Bush boy’s nanny, Condoleezza; and politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, which is just what George Bush is without his brain. Will Cheney now use his unencumbered powers to wage war on Iran? Even if he can’t find a way to get that longstanding wish of his fulfilled, count on him to destabilize the Middle East even more than he already has. Count on him too to continue his war on freedom and the rule of law (aka the “War on Terror”); count on the torture regime to continue. Just as we are only now beginning to experience the harm Alan Greenspan did to the economy, count on Cheney to generate enough blowback to keep America insecure for decades. Yes, he’ll be gone in “only”16 months. But consider the harm he can do in that time with the world’s only superpower under his thumb. As the useful idiots of the GOP will tell you, look at all that the other lone superpower managed in just six glorious days!

With our institutions only slightly more democratic than they now are (up, say, to the level of the average parliamentary democracy), Bush and Cheney would be history. With only slightly more “equal justice under law” than we now have, the question we’d be facing now would be how best to bring those two and the rest of the Bush crime family to justice. But our institutions are not very democratic, and we are a long way from equal justice and the rule of law. The best we can do, with the cards we’ve been dealt, is distract the “commanding heights” of our government enough to render its incumbents less able to do harm. That’s why it’s urgent that impeachment proceed. Recall how the process distracted Bill Clinton from his efforts to complete “the Reagan Revolution.” Paradoxically, had “the vast rightwing conspiracy” not had its way, we might not now have Social Security. But Clinton’s impeachment was never more than theatrics; no one, except the Republicans’useful idiots and the sanctimonious Joe Lieberman ever took it seriously. With Cheney it would be different. Articles of impeachment were brought against Clinton for engaging in harmless peccadilloes with a zaftig intern more lovely than his usual paramours, not to mention his wife, and then (the “actionable” offense) lying about it. Henry Kissinger proved that power is indeed an aphrodisiac, even when all else repels; but, even so, Cheney and Bush are busts as ladies’ men. Still, they have committed impeachable offenses – real ones, genuinely actionable ones -- out the wazoo. Were Pelosi and Company to let the impeachment of Cheney get underway, it would not just be theater. With all those pesky “high crimes and misdemeanors,” even Fox News couldn’t turn it into that.

Lets therefore hope that, in these “dog days” of August, with the Congressional Democrats off on junkets or vacations or trying to mend fences with their constituents, that they find just enough courage – or, since that’s unlikely, that they’ll come to their senses about where their interests lie – and move forward on House Resolution 333. Lets distract Cheney as much as our institutions allow. We have a world to lose; and, pace Nancy Pelosi, it can’t wait.

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