As Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the committee, made clear more than once during the six-hour session, this was “not an impeachment hearing, however much many in the audience might wish it to be” He might well have added that he himself was not the fierce defender of the Constitution and of the authority of Congress that he once was before gaining control of the Judiciary Committee, however much his constituents, his wife, and Americans across the country might wish him to be.
Yep. Conyers is bowing down to Pelosi’s pressure on this one. He is more interested in keeping his job as judiciary chair than in defending the Constitution. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
The basic point, made by Holtzman, by Fein and by many others, including this writer, is that worrying about the political opposition to impeachment, both in the House, and in the Senate, not to mention among the broader public, is completely wrongheaded. Even when impeachment articles were first filed against Nixon, the public and the bulk of the Congress were solidly against the idea (unlike Bush, who has a 19% approval rating, Nixon had just won an epic landslide re-election victory in 1972 against George McGovern). It was during the hearings that the tide turned, as evidence of malfeasance, criminality and abuse of power became evident through hearing testimony.
The same would certainly happen in the case of President Bush and/or Vice President Cheney. Most Americans don’t even know that the president made up evidence to justify the war against Iraq out of whole cloth. They don’t know what the Geneva Conventions are with regard to torture. They don’t know why Congress passed the FISA act, which Bush has been feloniously violating to spy on them (it was passed because Nixon was using the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without judicial warrants–exactly what Bush is now doing!). They don’t know that Bush has been refusing to enact laws passed by the Congress. Public hearings by an impeachment panel would make all these high crimes and misdemeanors clear on national TV to all sentient Americans.
Moreover, as Holtzman pointed out, the president would not be able to use the claim of “executive privilege” to withhold testimony from aides in an impeachment inquiry, the way he has done when they have been subpoenaed by other House and Senate committees. Impeachment would be about violations of the very executive actions he would be claiming privilege on. As well, an impeachment committee, unlike any other committee of the Congress, is specifically sanctioned and empowered in the Constitution, meaning that even strict “constructionist” Federalists on the bench would have a hard time backing presidential obstruction.
As Holtzman noted, “There is no executive privilege in impeachment, because refusing to testify is itself an impeachable offense.”
So what do the punk Democrats (including Barack Obama) have to fear from an impeachment hearing?
According to the Associated Press, “Barack Obama told House Democrats on Tuesday that as president he would order his attorney general to scour White House executive orders and expunge any that ‘trample on liberty,’ several lawmakers said.”
Why wait? What are his Senate staffers doing while the Senator is off jet-setting around the world? Of course,
Obama did not mention executive orders when he addressed reporters who waited for him outside the closed-door meeting. He said only that he would be campaigning alongside members to win the presidency and help expand Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.
“I am looking forward to collaborating with everyone here to win the election, but more importantly to collaborate with everybody here and also some like-minded Republicans to actually govern and to deliver on behalf of the American people,” Obama said.
Obama and Democrats are following the conventional wisdom that they need to play to conservatives in order to win the White House and maintain their slim majority in Congress. They are ignoring their base which is ready for the war to end and ready for Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes.
Since when do partisan politics trump the U.S. Constitution? Is this what our troops are fighting and dying for?
Click below to read Dave Lindorff’s report:
ThisCantBeHappening.net – Friday’s House Judiciary Hearing on Impeachment: A Victory and a Challenge