By Martin Bosworth
I had the pleasure of subbing in for Sam for a conference call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today. Although there were a good number of progressive bloggers in attendance with a lot to say, Pelosi pretty much dominated the conversation, sometimes answering questions before people could even ask them. I was impressed with how knowledgeable she was on environmental issues in particular, ranging from biofuel creation and consumption to raising CAFE standards. Good stuff. Dave Johnson of Seeing The Forest has a fairly thorough recap of the conversation.
Dave actually asked the question I want to address here. Pelosi was discussing the absolute lack of oversight and accountability that has been a hallmark of the Bush junta, and Dave said, simply, “What are you going to do about it?”
Pelosi’s argument against impeachment was, simply, that it wouldn’t be worth expending the political capital and effort to push the process forward. If the situation had been Bush coming in as a new president, she said, things might have been different, but with less than two years left on his watch and his record as a miserable failure etched in stone , the stronger weapon was oversight. Pelosi specifically mentioned the subpoena power that, she said, is making the Dem Congress “Bush’s worst nightmare.”
Essentially, Pelosi argued that we need to push forward and get a Dem in the White House in 2008 to really start enacting serious change, noting that even with majorities in both Houses, the Dems’ power could not overcome the 60 Senate votes needed to beat a Bush veto, and that the courts would be particularly unfriendly to Democratic moves for criminal investigations unless they substantially “built the cases” for each move. “Let the process play out,” she said. “Oversight isn’t political, it’s patriotic.”
Many of the bloggers on the call were unhappy with this, wanting to see more direct action, and Pelosi expressed sympathy with the frustration. For me, this is a tough one. I understand how tough the political process is in the best of environments–and this is anything but. Pelosi is a new Speaker leading the Dems back to power for the first time in 12 years, and she’s a woman, so she gets the 20 percent sexism tax attached to everything she does. I get that. Bush has stacked the government so thoroughly with “loyal Bushies” at every level, in all three branches, that it will take years to get rid of them and undo all their damage. I get that too.
But at the same time, when you look at the sneering defiance with which the Bush/Cheney axis refuses to comply with even the basic tenets of law, or how they’re incapable of passing any sort of legislation without it collapsing under the weight of its own bullshit, or any one of a million other crimes that have been committed under the aegis of the Worst President Ever, you have to ask yourself, “What the hell are we waiting for? How much power can a guy with a historically low approval rating really wield?”
Plenty. Bush’s veto pen can kill all of the progressive, forward-thinking legislation Pelosi wants to push, and without 60 Senators on board to override a veto, that’s that. And do not doubt he will do it–the man has proven time and again that he simply does not care what others think, and will happily kill any legislation out of spite, ignorance, or just plain meanness.
Bush has almost two years left to do incalculable damage and to continue to sully and stain the future and reputation of our country. At a time when the nation’s mindset is leaning more progressive left than ever, and we have strong enough leaders in Congress and elsewhere to make the change, it’s tough to accept that impeaching Bush (and Cheney) for their flagrant violations of law and ethics can’t be done. Right now, they are in the way of making this country a better place.
Indeed, the biggest obstacles to turning this country around are in the White House right now. And when an obstacle is in your way, you find a way around it, or you go through it. If we can’t get around them, then they need to go.