Pelosi “totally opposed” to impeachment; emotionally unsatisfying, but the right call

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a blogger call this afternoon to discuss the reconciled House/Senate Iraq spending bill. Bob Geiger’s post on the passage this morning seems to capture the thrust of Pelosi’s message today – Dem leadership have worked to set goals and are going to force Bush to “differentiate himself” on the issue with the American public.

Perhaps the most interesting moment of the conference came when Pelosi was asked directly whether she supported articles of impeachment against the President. Here’s a close paraphrase of her response:

I totally oppose impeachment. I believe we have to use our energies to end this war. I don’t think there’s enough popular support for it and there aren’t any Republican votes to support it. The American people want us to end the war. Impeachment would distract from that… George Bush is just not worth it. We should work to elect Democratic president and then we can move forward with a values-based agenda.

Pelosi was unequivocal in this – impeachment is not on the agenda, period.

It’s easy to respect her commitment to focusing on the issues that really matter – in addition to the war she also mentioned education, health care and the economy – but given what we saw during the Clinton years I almost wonder if somewhere a GOP isn’t task force isn’t already working on articles of impeachment against Hillary Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Richardson and anybody else who’s drawing more than 1% in the polls.

All in all, she’s probably right. Impeachment would perhaps be a good harassment tactic designed to keep the President on the defensive for the remainder of his term (essentially, if we can keep him from doing anything it’s a victory – or at least it’s an improvement over the first few years of his reign).

However, thanks to the Gonzales debacle, Wolfie’s girlfriend problem at the World Bank (now they’re going to get him a coach to work on his “leadership style”), and the Office of Special Counsel’s decision to take a good, hard, comprehensive look at a string of Rove’s misdeeds over the past six years (including the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, his apparent delete key fetish and administration efforts to “keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities”), harassment may not be necessary. The Bushies seem to be doing a pretty good job of keeping themselves on the defensive.

I’d love to see Bush hauled up on charges as much as the next guy, but the strategist in me says Pelosi is right here. The decision may not be as morally satisfying, but when push comes to shove I can back her desire to focus on the substance of our foreign and domestic policy.

After six years of Bush, it’s about time somebody did.

13 replies »

  1. I don’t care about this “strategy”. What’s right is right, and it’s right to go after lawbreakers who have bankrupted our country and our military, and decimated our constitutional rights. Pelosi should do what she’s elected to do, HOLD THE PRESIDENT ACCOUNTABLE.

    Maybe a good place to start is with the traitor Cheney … wasn’t Halliburton doing business with Iran while he was CEO? If that isn’t treason in a public officer, what is?

  2. Another reason to avoid impeachment is Darth Cheney. (Isn’t that why he chose himself as VP, to impeach-proof Bush?) Taking it one step further, it would seem that Kucinich has the right idea to go after Cheney first. But if Cheney were impeached and removed, and then we went after Bush, it would be impossible to get any Republican votes in Congress, because that would make Pelosi president. Furthermore, to many Americans that would appear to be a pure power play rather than a principled stand.

    So I understand Pelosi’s reluctance, but I wish there were still some wise old Republicans who could convince Bush to change his ways

  3. Georgia,

    This is SO hard for me, because I agree so completely about this crowd. If it had been up to me we’d have run them out of town after Plame gate, if not before. I kinda fight an internal battle on the issue, though, and when I take a longer, big-picture view it strikes me that as bad as he deserves it, focusing on fixing his damned mess so that we can perhaps end some of the suffering he’s caused is a more important task.

    In this sense I disagree with you, but I’m damned if I can criticize you for your opinion.

  4. What’s right is not always obvious, and I’m not convinced that Bush II has actually committed high crimes according to the standards of the U.S. Code and the Constitution. If I’m not willing to accept that possible perjury by former President Clinton was enough to justify removal, until I see evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Bush II actually broke laws, I’d be hypocritical to suggest that Bush deserves impeachment.

  5. As for Bush’s “high crimes, etc.” I think you’d look hard at what did he know and when did he know it re: Iraq/WMD. And if we were able to prove what I believe is the ultimate truth behind Plamegate we’d have grounds. I’m sure there’s more, but suspecting it, knowing it and proving it are different things….

  6. As shown with Plamegate, emailgate, *gate, this is a tight-knit inbred crowd that will do anything to obfuscate and gum up the works. Is an investigation for impeachment going to work better than any other investigation? I doubt it. I don’t see anyone singing to a prosecutor now.

    Jaded much? Yeah.

  7. And this is why I don’t see calling for an impeachment right now as a good idea. Give me proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” and I’ll be right there with Georgia above, but it’ll be really hard to pull it out without someone on the inside going turncoat.

    I’m not going to hold my breath.

  8. I agree with George McGovern (in today’s LA Times) that “the Cheney-Bush team has committed offenses that are worse than those that drove Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew and Atty. Gen. John Mitchell from office after 1972.” And he’s more hopeful than I: “Indeed, as their repeated violations of the Constitution and federal statutes, as well as their repudiation of international law, come under increased consideration, I expect to see Cheney and Bush forced to resign their offices before 2008 is over.” Read the whole thing.

  9. i don’t want to see an impeachment, not so much because of Bush qua Bush, but because of the precedent it would set. Since Nixon, we’ve had an independent counsel and a Congressional investigation of every president; it used to be extraordinary, and has become routine.

    I don’t want to see impeachment become as routine as investigations have become, and if we had impeachment proceedings against two consecutive presidents, you could count on it becoming a gotcha matter of course. We’re consumed enough with bitter partisan bullshit without escalating it.

    All that aside, what new do we know that we didn’t know in November 2004, when the American voters gave Bush another four years? We knew then that the case for the Iraq was was bullshit, that Bush had gutted civil liberties and shredded the Geneva Conventions, that he had an expansive view of executive power and used “signing statements” to attempt an end-run around the balance of powers, and so on.

    The American people re-elected him anyway. I don’t think that was a good idea, but it’s what happened, and I’m loath to see the will of the voters overturned by a political maneuver. The Dems are smart to get over trying to revisit the 2004 — or 2000, for that matter — election, and focus on 2008. And maybe, just maybe, get something fucking useful done between now and then.

  10. I actually was more disturbed by Pelosi’s “values-based” comment than ixnaying impeachment. We’ve seen firsthand what seven years’ worth of “values-based” governance has brought us, fuck you very much. I want some real results that don’t involve spying on me or destroying what makes this country great.

    With that said, I have to agree with her. For all the terrible things Bush has done, impeaching him now would simply turn the electorate against the Dems. The best way they can limit the damage he can do until 2009–and he can do plenty–is to build majorities in both houses strong enough to override any vetoes he makes. Make him a lame duck. Box him in and send him walking like the failure he is.

    History will already judge him as the worst president of our time, if not ALL time. Pelosi and Reid can demonstrate real leadership by showing Bush for the fool he is.

  11. Might oughta elaborate here – would have helped if I’d had the whole comment as she said it. The values SHE was talking about were policy things like ed and health care, not “moral” values like we get from the Bushies.

    Sorry to mislead.

  12. And that’s a smart strategy for the Dems — reclaim the words “values” and “morals.”

    How many words does Jesus speak in the Gospels about homosexuality, abortion, and prayer in schools?

    How many about helping the poor, the sick, and the old?

    There ya go.

  13. Our justice system, revered worldwide prior to
    this administration, is broken and we need
    to fix it if we want our constitution to prevail.

    The laws that Cheney & puppet have broken
    are not misdemeanors and neither are
    those they are breaking now. Just how much
    more damage do you think these criminals can
    do to our government, people, and the world in
    21 months? (Give a conservative estimate.)

    The Impeachment movement is gaining huge
    ground in state and local legislatures and
    across kitchen tables. Join. It can be
    accomplished very, very quickly.
    First Gonzales.