Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Deconstruction of Impeachment

Revise priorities. Select goals. Identify destinations. Construct a road map. Measure progress with waypoints.

Needed: a good political cartographer.
Toward the end of his reign as the "Iron Chancellor" of Germany, Otto von Bismarck quarrelled with his Kaiser over a number of issues, one of which was Germany's lagging behind other European powers' grabbing of overseas empires. At one point, the exasperated Chancellor grabbed a rolled map off his desk and asked the Kaiser, "Do you want to see my map of Africa? I'll show it to you." The Kaiser was surprised to see a map of Western Europe presented to him. Bismarck continued, "Here is France, Here is England, Here is Russia, and in the middle of this circle, here is Germany. This is my map of Africa."

As I drove home yesterday, Senator Mike Gravel was interviewed on the Randi Rhodes Show and unfolded for me, over my car radio, his map of impeachment:

Senator Gravel proposed:
Recognizing that under our Constitution the power of the Congress is superior to the power of the President. . . Congress should pass a law making the war in Iraq illegal. Failure to comply with the law would be punishable by 5 years in jail – without possibility of parole. That includes the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Treasury. All are required to follow the law, as is any other American citizen.

Of course, once the law is passed by the House and the Senate, President Bush will veto it.
Mike Gravel’s strategy further calls for
Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the veto override to a vote every day at noon (7 days a week, without congressional vacations), forcing the media spotlight to shine on those congressional representatives who are failing to override the President’s veto and are thus prolonging the war.
Gravel's explanation continued:
The strategy is designed to give the American people time to become aware of Congress’s activities and weigh in about the Constitutional confrontation between Congress and the President. Ultimately, pressure from their constituents will produce a two-thirds majority sufficient to override the President‘s veto. (When the law is filibustered in the Senate initially, the same procedure would apply.)
Gravel dissed current Congressional efforts as self-delusional, self-defeating and a source of great confusion for the American people:
Thus far Congress’s efforts to curtail the Iraq war have given us a non binding resolution and an embarrassing 'Symbolic Vote'. Now they’ve capitulated to President Bush on the proposed 2008 deadlines for troop withdrawal.
Finally, impeachment is a major distraction:
Many Americans want to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and they should be impeached. But that’s a lengthy process; and given the narrow majority held by Democrats, impeachment is unlikely. Meanwhile, our soldiers and Iraqis are dying every day America stays in Iraq. There will be ample time to pursue impeachment and possible criminal charges once our troops are safely home.
Senator Gravel is a legislative strategist. He served two terms in the U.S. Senate fighting for causes unpopular in Congress and winning against the odds. His accomplishments include ending the military draft through a Senate filibuster and hastening an end to the Vietnam war by reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record from the floor of the Senate. As I recall, a publisher could not be found. Only after Gravel's 'stunt', did a publisher take on the project. I say this to point out that Gravel is not asking Pelosi and her peers to do anything he wasn't willing to do in his own time.

I don't know if Gravel's strategy will ultimately deliver a timely end to Bush's occupation of either Baghdad or Washington. But, if his road map is adopted in the Senate and the House, Progressive forces will no longer dissipate their attention, energies and resources floundering around on peripheral issues which obscure the central obstacle impeding the future restoration of our once great American Republic.

Bush and Cheney must be forced to eat their misbegotten occupation of Iraq before they are excused from the table on
20 January 2009.