Thursday, July 12, 2007

What can congress do? Something crazy!

They won't, but what could they do when a president improperly grants relief to a convicted subordinate? Ian Samuel suggests this solution, admitting of its implausibility in the current system:
The remedy for improperly pardoning one's own convicted subordinates to cover up one's own ongoing criminal conspiracies is already in the Constitution. We do not need a new amendment. The remedy is impeachment and conviction. The House of Representatives should impeach both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for their role in this entire conspiracy to obstruct justice. A simple majority in the House of Representatives would be sufficient for that. The Senate poses a somewhat more difficult problem, because it can be expected that the Republicans (either as parties to, or in furtherance of, the same conspiracy to obstruct justice) will not vote to convict. The remedy for this is also in the Constitution; it is Article I, Section 5.
The Senate is perfectly free to determine the "Qualifications of its own Members," and the Democrats could thus refuse to seat the Republicans if they refused to convict. (The Republican Senators could be re-seated after conviction, if they agreed to be bound by its result.) President Pelosi would then presumably direct the Justice Department to initiate ordinary criminal prosecution of both Bush and Cheney, for their roles in the conspiracy. Think it's radical? It is--but not unprecedented. Our Constitution's guarantee of the "equal protection of the laws," the Fourteenth Amendment, was ratified 139 years ago this Monday, in exactly that
fashion. Some things are worth fighting for, and the rule of law is one of them. I doubt very much that Congressional Democrats will do these things, but I don't doubt whether they should.
And to anyone who suggests this is a stretch, even an elaboration of the original intent of I:5, well, is your objection that our leaders shouldn't creatively interpret the law for their own purposes? Is your solution, then, to Presidential and Vice Presidential "creativity" to look the other way, or to find a more legitimate way of holding the executive accountable? My question for you is: If impeachment proceedings should not begin now, what, precisely and exactly please, should happen? If nothing can the admission that there's nothing we can do about it an admission that the system is broken?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great idea to me, though I agree with Ian that this (probably any) group of Dems will not take that step. There are many lesser steps they could have taken and they have usually, not always, but usually, declined to take those smaller steps.

I observe this up close and personal with Sen. Levin who SUCKS on all things war-related, to the point of co-sponsoring Lieberman's Iran attack-prep bill. If you can only blow kisses at an asshole who daily accuses you of embracing terrorism, you have a serious case of the Stockholm Syndrome.

There are very real political and PR barriers, though, beyond their integration into the establishment, in part because of media lapdoggery and the total absence of shame about anything on the part of GOPers in the Senate. Some GOPers in the Nixon era could be shamed into "fighting for the rule of law". There appear to be none today. What must the President and VP do to move their asses? (I note you NEVER rebuke the spineless GOPers in Congress, as though the Dems can/should act as if they own the place).

On another note, what do you make of Ian's appeal to "fighting for the rule of law", You in on that, given the state of the law today?

And tell me more, if you would, why 3rd parties and the Greens and all that is just playing pretend when it comes to politics. Strikes me as little more than narcissistic self-delusion, but I have not always felt that way. I went for Nader in 2000 and while I think that move was defensible, one thing 9/11 did in fact change was opening my eyes not so much to the virtues of the Dems but made crystal clear how bad the Bush cabal could be. Tell me honestly you saw all that coming. And if you do, then explain why the marginal difference with Dems is meaningless, please.

And recall my argument that every Dem presidential candidate wants to significantly increase federal support for health care for poor kids while every GOPer does not. Why is that a small difference? Why is that difference - millions of kids - not ALONE enough to make indefensible a dalliance with Nader or some other vanity candidate?

Enjoy the WDC and take care,

Trond Jacobsen