Bush’s errors as president call for impeachment proceedings

Originally published at The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper.

Me, c. 2007.

It seems like a lifetime ago that George W. Bush was installed as president by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, but only a little more than six short years have passed since that fateful decision.

In just six years, Bush turned a record budget surplus into a record deficit.

He took our national reputation from an unprecedented high after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to an unprecedented low, a downward slide that has been mirrored by his approval ratings.

He has repeatedly asserted the authority to operate without oversight and ignore laws and judicial rulings with wild abandon.

He has conducted domestic surveillance of American citizens without warrants, in violation of federal law and the Constitution. He has repeatedly admitted this crime, even bragged about it, on national television.

He facilitated the use of torture in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, in violation of both American and international law. His administration regards the Geneva Conventions as “quaint.”

He has waged a reckless and expensive war in Iraq that has killed hundreds of thousands and breeded a new generation of terrorists on the basis of deliberately misleading and fabricated intelligence.

The Bush presidency has been an uninterrupted parade of disaster. Just when you think he’s sunk as low as possible, he sinks even lower. And just as you think he’s finally learned his lesson, he goes and makes the same mistakes again.

This administration clearly has no intention of changing its ways. Pleas from the public, from the Democrats, from the courts, from academia, from the international community and even from within the Republican Party, fall on deaf ears.

Nothing short of drastic measures will stop this power-mad lunatic from further eroding the very foundation of our republic. When a president habitually violates the law, the Constitution and his Oath of Office, only one responsible option is left: Impeachment.

Some Democrats have shied away from discussing impeachment. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid both said impeachment is “off the table.” Some who seemed to favor impeachment in the past, such as John Conyers, have backed off that stance as of lately. Impeachment, their strategists tell them, would be viewed by the public as overly partisan and hurt their chances in the 2008 elections.

This argument is not only spineless, but faulty. It only holds up if one uses the impeachment of Bill Clinton as a model.

The Clinton impeachment was carried out by a highly partisan Republican Congress that was hell-bent on destroying him from day one. Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about sex — hardly a constitutional crisis. All votes fell largely on party lines.

Throughout the whole fiasco, 60 percent to 70 percent of the public opposed impeachment and saw it as a partisan hit. And yes — the Republicans were hurt in the polls in the 1998 midterm elections, but that’s what happens when you waste 80 million of the taxpayers’ dollars on a witch hunt.

The model should be Richard Nixon:

The Nixon impeachment hearings began in early May 1974 in the House Judiciary Committee, which adopted three articles of impeachment in late July, on a bipartisan basis, and recommended them back to the House for a final vote.

Nixon, advised by top Republicans that Congress was likely to impeach and remove him from office, resigned in August before the articles could come to a vote in the House. The shockwaves of the whole affair cost the Republicans elections for the rest of the decade.

Had Nixon not fallen on his sword, he would have been charged with unlawful entry, obstruction of justice, illegal surveillance of American citizens and disobeying subpoenas. Bush’s crimes far surpass these charges.

According to a Newsweek poll from October, 51 percent of Americans consider impeachment a priority for Congress — and that was taken before any investigations into this administration’s failures had even begun. With new evidence of wrongdoing exposed every day, support for impeachment can only grow.

Time is of the essence: Every day this dangerously incompetent and criminal administration is allowed to be in power is a day closer to the next disaster. As has been demonstrated during the past six years, with these people in charge, anything can happen.

The impeachment discussion needs to begin now — not only so this administration can be stopped, but also to set an example for future administrations that such behavior will not be tolerated by freedom-loving people.

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