Did Pelosi make a deal?


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

    Impeachment and the Table
    t r u t h o u t | Editorial
    Monday 13 November 2006

A compelling argument can certainly be made that, given all that the country now
faces, an impeachment of George W. Bush by the new Democratic Congress would do 
more to further divide the nation than heal it. Ironically, many of Mr. Bush's 
critics have dubbed Mr. Bush himself "the great divider." Whether you blame Mr. 
Bush for the social divisions in America or not, deep and abiding social 
divisions, particularly over the morass in Iraq, are undeniable, and healing 
those divisions should be of paramount importance to the new Congress. Equally 
undeniable are the political risks for a new Democratic Congress that would 
pursue impeachment shortly after taking back the gavel for the first time in 
over a decade.

However, in stating flatly that "impeachment is off the table," incoming Speaker
Pelosi and incoming Chairman Conyers appear to have erred rather substantially. 
Impeachment, of course, is a matter of Constitutional law, not personal 
discretion on the part of individual lawmakers. The pre-emptive nature of the 
decision by Pelosi and Conyers stands in sharp contrast to every principal of 
law enforcement. Congress - whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans - has
a solemn duty to uphold and when necessary enforce the law.

If there is some reason that impeachment is not warranted in a given 
circumstance, it should be stated in that context. But for an individual 
lawmaker, any individual lawmaker, to presume to preclude impeachment regardless
of the circumstances scoffs at the Constitution. The great danger is that 
individuals in official positions might choose to assume unto themselves the 
power of the law at their personal discretion. If the last six years have taught
us anything, it is that such hubris leads to ruin.

White House attorneys have even gone so far as to argue that Mr. Bush is a 
"unitary executive," and thus entitled to assume omnipotent legal power in all 
matters. Not at some point in the past, but this day. At the risk of seeing the 
day that such largess is the presumed entitlement of all elected officials, it 
is best that as a nation we chart a course back to the comparatively safe harbor
of due process.

The Constitution provides impeachment as a remedy for "high crimes and 
misdemeanors." It is important to note that the category at issue is high 
crimes. We are mired in a military operation, with no end in sight and a human 
toll approaching catastrophic in proportion. Impeachment raises its head in this
dialog because evidence exists that Mr. Bush and other White House officials may
have deliberately misled the nation on the road to Baghdad. Deliberately. If 
true, the law itself mandates action under due process. Such action is expressly

During the Iraq Resolution debate, a white-haired Robert Byrd of West Virginia 
stood on the floor of the Senate and argued with a haunting passion that the 
Congress did not, under Constitutional law, have the right to reassign 
war-making power to the president. It was, he implored, an abandonment of 
Congressional duty. Maybe that old man knew what he was talking about after all.

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