The Impeachment Argument



There has been a lot of talk about presidential impeachment in Orange County lately. Huntington Beach and Santa Ana will hear the issue in their council meetings this week. Last Sunday was the kick off of a weekly impeachment rally on the campus of UCI, and every Saturday you can find a gathering of impeachment folks at Laguna’s main beach.

There is even a website dedicated solely to the impeachment movement in Orange County:

I consider myself to be very liberal: I think that all citizens deserve high quality health care and education; I believe that every gun should be removed from every home; and I often agree (politically) with Rosie O’Donnell. But for some reason I can’t wrap my extremely liberal brain around this impeachment argument.

You could convince me that Bush has committed impeachable offensives, but I don’t see why Democrats should pursue legislative action that would divide the party and unite the opposition—ultimately accomplishing nothing.

Is there something that I’m missing?

  31 comments for “The Impeachment Argument

  1. Publius
    September 5, 2007 at 12:35 am

    Yes, Mike.
    You are missing the complete lack of common sense and big picture thinking that characterizes most extremists.
    Most of the pro-impeachment folks aren’t interested in finding common ground for creative solutions to the problems facing this country. Instead they prefer to make grandiose but meaningless statements. Folks on the fringe are obsessed with the symbolic.

  2. September 5, 2007 at 1:22 am

    I don’t consider myself on the fringe, but I think the impeachment process would be good. It doesn’t matter if there’s not enough votes in the Senate to convict. Having the hearings, where all of the evidence is presented to the public, is a good way of displaying a condensed, focus, presentation of all the crap that Bush has put us through.
    There’s also the Nixon analogy. At the beginning, there wasn’t enough evidence for conviction either:

    “Impeachment proceedings led to Nixon’s resignation without the House ever voting on the bill of impeachment. Why? Because it was the hearings themselves that became convincing.”


  3. September 5, 2007 at 7:09 am


    It’s so rare that we disagree. Check out this story on Kos by Representative Brad Miller:

    Oversight is not just about causing heartburn for the other party. A great American political scientist, Woodrow Wilson, wrote that “the informing power” of Congress —- the power to expose abuse of power, corruption and waste — was probably more important than Congress’s “legislative function.” Oversight investigations inform Congress’s decisions about legislation and funding. And oversight investigations provide unflattering scrutiny of abuse of power and corruption. Yes, political embarrassment can be a wholesome, proper purpose of oversight investigations. Political embarrassment punishes misconduct, and it is a deterrent to conduct that would be hard to explain in public.

    Congress shouldn’t start an investigation already knowing how they want the investigation should end (like the Congress did in 94 when they took over). Congress should conduct oversight and do so in a fair manner. We’re better than that.

  4. September 5, 2007 at 8:27 am

    Impeachment hearings are a Constitutional duty, not just some political tactic. It is the legal mechanism that the 1787 Convention envisioned for abuses of Bush’s variety . There is no logically sound basis for that argument about “symbolism” from publius. It’s not some “symbolic” issue–whatever that is supposed to mean, since an impeachment hearing is no less “real” than a Clinton stump speech, an anti-war rally, or legal argument before a judge. I was opposed to the impeachment argument early in the Bush years. my opposition to the Iraq war began a process of revision on that opinion. The wire taps confirmed it. I don’t see any basis for the claim that impeachment divides the Democrats and unites Republicans. All we’re talking about are hearings, and a bare majority of Americans have supported hearings in polls. 51% of America is much more than the number of registered Democrats. It probably includes a great many independents and a few Republicans. Even former right-wing Clinton impeachment advocate former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia opposes the civil liberties agenda of Bush and has joined up with the ACLU. If the issue of impeachment hearings divides the Democratic Party, it will not be because Dems are too liberal or conservative. It will be because the majority of the populace thinks its time and the Dems–again–have showed little willingness to move with the critical issues. Dan, I think you forget that the Democrats were not really unified by the Clinton impeachment. They were disgusted by him, though they thought impeachment was excessive (because it was). The Republicans suffered in the Fall 98 midterm elections not because they impeached but because they did so without good cause and when a majority of Americans thought it a crappy idea. In many respects, the opposite is true now. Impeachment hearings would likely be a credit to the Democrats. -j

  5. james
    September 5, 2007 at 8:30 am

    I addressed “Dan” in the previous post. Obviously “Mike” s the author. Sorry.

  6. Northcountystorm
    September 5, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Nothing will unite the currently fractured GOP base more then an impeachment campaign. I’m with Mike—continue aggressive oversight and if the evidence is there then make the decision. The Iraq War is not an impeachable offense–Congress authorized it . If the left was smart they’d push for deauthorizing the war and demanding a pullout by a certain date. But of course that would require them to stop the left mantra that the only true path to victory lies in stopping the funding.

    Right now the Romney-Giuliani-McCain & Thompson crowd have Bush and Cheney hanging around their neck like a heavy albatross. The best Christmas gift the GOP could get is an impeachment campaign, courtesy of the left.

  7. September 5, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Who said that Larry Gilbert will never agree with you.
    Your postion is well stated. To those who devote resources to this misguided effort we thank you for this diversion as we try to figure out the team that will best represent “our side” in the presidential election.

    Someone once advised me to carefully “pick your battles.” This fight will burn resources that could be better used in upcoming races. Why am I telling you anyway? Enough said. Enjoy the cooler weather while it lasts.

  8. September 5, 2007 at 11:47 am

    NCS, which is more important?
    1) Avoiding uniting the GOP?
    2) Holding Bush accountable for his actions against the Constitution?

  9. September 5, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    “I believe that every gun should be removed from every home”

    Come over and try and take them……………

  10. Melissa
    September 5, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    The United States has major problems it needs to fix: Health Care, Immigration, the War in Iraq to name a few. With 14 months left in Bush’s administration, this effort would be a huge waste of time.

    Don’t get me wrong. Bush is a gawd-awful excuse for “leader”, but look at what a waste the impeachment of Clinton did. The reeps in Congress knew they didn’t have the votes in the Senate and pushed on anyway. What resulted? A back-log of work in the House and Senate, a united Democratic Party and a publc completely turned off by the whole mess. The reeps looked like idiots and the Dems would look the same way.

    Gary, your time would be better spent trying to elect Dems to end the war, promote universal health care and rebuild our infrastructure that we so desparately need.

  11. September 5, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    So, Melissa, it doesn’t matter if he’s guilty or not, we should just let him get away with everything just because there’s not enough time (which I disagree with) or that we’ve got more important things to do than to protect the Constitution? Don’t you agree that the things that Bush has done far outweigh what Clinton was impeached for?

    I very much agree that we also need the things you mentioned at the end; I just think that they should be a lower priority than impeachment.

  12. Dan Chmielewski
    September 5, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Sorry Mike (and Tom), but if you stack it all up, the abuse of power by Bush/Cheney is a far cry from an extramartial affair in the Oval Office. Congress should begin impeachment proceedings because its clear and warranted. Read Elizabeth Holtzman’s book on articles of impeachment against this administration. Besides, when the Republicans are in the minority but unifiy under one issue, we’re told that leadership trasncends populism. Can we art least agree that Bush deserves to be impeached?

    That all said; there are not enough votes to convict and these crooks, and they are crooks, will stay in oiwer for another 500 days or so. There are certainly very serious problems that need solving.

  13. David Martin
    September 5, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Melissa, all the major problems you name either come from the high crimes and violations of the Constitution caused by this administration, or could have been addressed by the $500 Billion spent on our crusade in Iraq.

    (According to “No End in Sight” — an excellent, unbiased movie — current projections for the cost of this war, leaving Iraq, repairing equipment, and caring for veterans will cost $1.86 TRILLION. Btw, the national debt when Bush entered office was $5.7 TRILLION, is currently $9.0 TRILLION, and will likely be north of $10 TRILLION when he leaves. IMHO, that kind of reckless spending saddled onto future generations is practically an impeachable crime itself.)

    Frankly, the world and the United States can’t wait another 17 months for this President to leave office before holding him accountable for his actions and reminding him of his oath to the Constitution.

  14. Northcountystorm
    September 5, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    GK—That’s not the choice. I agree we should hold people accountable–that doesn’t mean we play the impeachment card on the laundry list one of your links put forth. using that standard most presidents could fall victim to a post-Civil War Radical Republican/modern day Ginrich Revolution Congress hell bent on playing the impeachment card when they can’t win the presidential election. A card right outof the GOP Mulligan book(see 2003 recall). And if you really want to get our of Iraq and stop many of the abuses you refer to then it means electing a new president. Why give the Republicans the life preserver they need to hang onto the White House?.

    Look, the CDP has already urged Congress to conduct vigorous investigations to call this Administration to account with appropriate remedies and punishment, including impeachment. Thats a resolution that PDA people helped write. Rather then people screaming impeachment, if there are specific areas of misconduct you think are impeachable offenses, put pressure on the subcommittee chairs to conduct robust investigations, including the use of the subpoena power. If you don’t properly prepare your impeachment case the public will see this as a GOP type ploy.

    And yes Dan, Bush’s conduct is in a different league then Clinton’s but that doesn’t qualify them necessarily to be high crimes and misdemeanors. Now if you can get Congress to deauthorize the war and vote for a pull out and he refuses to comply, then you might get some traction. Otherwise, even if you wanted to do it the clock has essentially run out.

  15. September 5, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Bush should be impeached for one reason and one only: for violating the Constitutional powers of his office.

    It’s more to the advantage of the Reeps to impeach him than it is to the advantage of the Dems. The next President will almost certainly be a Dem, and if Bush is not impeached the 44th President will take advantage of the expanded powers of the office in a way that will be (to paraphrase Hirohito) not necessarily to the advantage of the Republicans.

  16. Melissa
    September 5, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Make no mistake, if we impeach Bush, we will not win the Presidency in 2008.

    And yes, Gary, Health Care, Infrastructure and the War in Iraq are issues that need to be addressed immediately. I am sure a person dealing with bankruptcy due to a severe medical condition is not thinking about impeachment, but how to solve the problem. We need to start solving problems, not an impeachment that will never happen. We don’t have the votes or the proof. If we did, Bush would have been out of office already and we would have President Cheney. We have to pick the fights we can win. Impeachment would tear this country further apart. Open your eyes! Let’s concentrate on the upcoming election. It is just around the corner.

  17. grouchomarxist
    September 5, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    So, you all believe that logic plays a role in this. Democrats either stand up and do the constitutionally right thang or stand down for “political” advantage. The Dems acting as a co-ordinated group is ludicrous, won’t happen. HARPO WAS A DEMOCRAT AND AN ANARCHIST! Who’s the director here? Will Mickey weep?

  18. james
    September 5, 2007 at 7:36 pm


    Nixon resigns August 1974… Carter elected Nov 1976.


  19. September 6, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Sure, let’s open our eyes:

    Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction

  20. james
    September 6, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    I can tell this thread is winding down, but I just want to add that impeachment hearings do not have to mean paralysis. The same congress that investigated Nixon (the 93rd 1973-4) also passed the Endangered Species Act, the War Powers Resolution, and other bills.

  21. September 7, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Melissa is correct.
    Be careful what you ask for. Stay away from that bottle with the Genie offering three wishes.

    President “Cheney” has a nice ring to it. Trsut me when I say that you will not take down George W Bush. And if you could, you would face his replacement, the current vice president, not someone YOU hope to select.

    I like that old cliche. “Ready, fire, aim.”

    Think about your argument from a practical point of view and not expose your angst.
    From the Right, Larry Gilbert

  22. Dan Chmielewski
    September 7, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Why not impeach Cheney?

  23. Anonymous
    September 7, 2007 at 2:24 pm


    Impeachment hearings are practical. It’s about the public investigation and repudiation of public offenses. It’s about disallowing a precedent of abuses unpunished.

  24. September 7, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Dan is correct. It’s all about the order of impeachment. Cheney first, then Bush. And if Cheney gets ousted, so will Bush.

  25. September 7, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    And just for kicks how long do you think this multiple impeachment proceedings will take? Are you suggesting a “fast track” and have it resolved by Jan of 2009? Let’s ignore the war in Iraq, energy, health care, Homeland Security, etc.

    OH, there we go again. Another president from CA. Nancy Pelosi.
    Now that’s a scarry thought.

  26. Northcountystorm
    September 7, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    You folks are living in la la land. In 14 months we will be electing a new president.
    You think the Congress is going to impeach Cheney and then Bush in this time? That’s as loopy as the thought process going on right now in Rancho Mirage.

    It took a crime people could understand, a cover up, a refusal to comply with subpoena’s, a firing of a special prosecutor, Attorney General and Assistant AG, a 18 1/2 minute missing tape, and almost a full year from the time Senator Ervin started his hearings until the House voted to authorize the Judiciary Committee to begin hearings to determine whether impeachment of Nixon was appropriate. And another two months before Judiciary voted out impeachment. And there were bipartisan calls for impeachment by respected GOP legislators. The due diligence and preparation was complete and a rock solid case was established. Nixon’s staunchest defenders went to the White House to tell him the jig was up.

    Compare that with Clinton–after the Starr hatchet job the House GOP leaders simply announced they were going to vote on an impeachment inquiry, did so 2 weeks later, the Judiciary Committee took 3 weeks to vote for impeachment, the full House 2 days. The railroad was running and the Country saw through this–that it was a partisan witch hunt.

    Democrats scored upset victories in 1998 general election.

    So unless you want to put this on the fast track ala GOP, its too late. The GOP would be solidly against it so you never will convict either Cheney or Bush. And you’d never get an impeachment article out of the House(at least not on the current charges) because Democrats would not be solidly behind it. The Democrats would look stupid and this would cost them heavily going into the 2008 election which otherwise looks like an opportunity to make significant Democratic gains in both houses of Congress.

    So again, rather then impeachment rants, spend your time on getting subcommittee chairs to do thorough investigations on some of the corruption and abuse of power that has taken place under this Administration. Something may come up which will turn the Congress and the country solidly behind impeachment as they were in the summer of 74. Not likely, but possible. And spend the rest of your time electing a new president and congress.

  27. james
    September 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    To the Northcountystorm,

    You’re not reading all the comments before painting disparagingly with a broad brush. I’ve been talking about hearings–not an impeachment vote tomorrow. It seems others have been too. Did you notice that your phrases and terms like “loopy” and “la la land” and “rants” advance an argument that contradicts itself? You start off saying 14 months is not enough time but you end up saying we should press subcommittees to investigate so maybe something will come up that can turn the country solidly behind impeachment. Seems you convinced yourself to become loopy. And as a resident of La La Land, allow me to appoint myself mayor too and to offer you the key to the city… congrats! BTW, I’m in agreement with most of what you wrote. -j

  28. Northcountystorm
    September 8, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Dear Mayor LaLa:

    Keep the keys to the asylum. I said I don’t believe impeachment is going to happen before the next election. There aren’t the votes, there isn’t the time and I know its tough for impeachment partisans to admit, they don’t have the material to win a vote in the House much less a conviction in the Senate. Even Dan admits there aren’t the votes in the Senate.

    investigative hearings–combined with some Nixon-type blunders by President bush–could possibly lead to impeachment but is highly unlikely. Possible, as I noted, just as its possible Dennis Kucinich might be elected President in 2008. But what’s possible is not always likely and its not likely that the House would vote out articles of impeachment and not likely that Kucinich will win much outside of Maui.

    The investigative subcommittee hearings I was referring to would not have some preordained result in mind and impeachment wouldn’t even be within the jurisdiction. Your Judiciary Committee hearings would be more like a preliminary hearing where the Dems would be trying to establish probable cause to try Bush in front of the Senate. The former is investigative the latter is argumentative and conclusionary.

    I know you folks say you’re only talking about “holding impeachment hearings,” but please, spare us the con job. Your minds are made up -you want impeachment as a result of the hearings. So be honest and take the 3 week GOP-style blue light impeachment hearing schedule if you ever get the chance.

  29. mayor la la
    September 8, 2007 at 8:35 pm


    Impeachment hearings are not conclusionary. They are the first of several moments of debate, including taking testimony. They are followed by further debate by the general house, if the judiciary decides to recommend articles to the floor. The house then debates and votes. But even that is not “conclusive.” All this is essentially to decide *whether* to prosecute. That’s less conclusion than investigation. And even when the case is “concluded” in the minds of some Congresspeople, it’s hardly worse than a prosecutor believing he/she is prosecuting the right person. The conclusion, however, as we all saw in 99, would be a trial in the Senate, not in the hearings as you suggest. So I do think you contradict yourself in the earlier post, though I also think I did not fully understand what you were trying to say. You think subcommittee’s should investigate first. I say they are and have and I’m satisfied that there is obstruction and nefarious activity enough to start more formal hearings on the merits of an impeachment recommendation. Nixon and Clinton comparisons are apt for some parts of the current situation, but not others. It took a long time to connect Nixon to Watergate and other crimes. The current situation is not nearly so obscure. And the charges against Clinton seemed utterly unworthy of the impeachment to most Americans. That too is not the case today. Heck, Andrew Johnson was impeached and nearly convicted in about three months during the election year of 1868. I think this impeachment, now, would be good for the Republic. I think the fact that Bruce Fine argues for it too is not less than astonishing (although he’s more interested in the veep). -the mayor

  30. Northcountystorm
    September 8, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Mayor La La: My original point, which you understandably don’t want to address, is that impeachment is extremely unlikely almost to the point of it being DOA. There aren’t the votes there. The rest is nice political science class discussion but not realpolitik. People want the Democrats to win back the White House and Number 1 Observatory Circle the old fashioned way—-through an election.

    On the political science side of life, “Impeachment hearings are not conclusionary.” Right, Mr. Mayor. As one of my poly sci professors noted, impeachment is a partisan political act. it has always taken place in a divided government. They usually fail miserably. and of course the advocates of impeachment are always convinced there is nefarious activity(now thats a great standard). Every person I’ve talked to who wants these impeachment hearings wants Bush and Cheney impeached and convicted. Don’t you?

    By the way, the Congress has a significantly different composition now then it did when Andrew Johnson was impeached for vetoing and then ignoring an unconstitutional law. And the public is not breaking down congressional doors demanding impeachment hearings. There may be more meat on the Bush bone then the Clinton bone but still not enough for most people to want to waste the next year in a process of democratic self-flaggelation.

  31. Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    October 19, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    The impeachment process is possible and/or can be used for criminal prosecution even after George W. Bush leaves office—giving the American people a sense of hope. Even though impeachment while Bush is in office does not seem likely due to the complicity of Congress relative to the illegitimate Iraq War, Kucinich’s efforts relative to impeachment and the efforts of hundreds of Americans relative to impeachment are not wasteful collectively. For example, such efforts are beneficial in that (1) legitimate accusations made in the course of Bush’s presidency appropriately and importantly inform the American people and the world of Bush’s abuses of power, corruption, and dishonesty; and (2) legitimate accusations, for example, in Dennis Kucinich’s excellent book, “The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush,” may contribute to some impeachment and/or punitive process against Bush after he leaves office.

    Dennis Kucinich is my role model. Kucinich is simply the best. Congressman Kucinich has, in any case, done invaluable, noble, and exemplary work in pushing for impeachment so vigorously and single-mindedly.

    Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

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