CRUISIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’
I’ve noticed an uncomfortable coincidence regarding The Nation‘s Tenth Annual Seminar Cruise. The Oosterdam leaves Seattle July 28, bound for the Alaskan coast. On board will be such liberal luminaries as Ralph Nader and Richard Dreyfuss. Meanwhile, the Noordam leaves Seattle July 29, also bound for the Alaskan coast, hosting National Review‘s Annual Seminar Cruise, and on board will be such conservative luminaries as Dick Morris and Robert Bork. For almost the entire itinerary (Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria), the National Review ship will be exactly one day behind the Nation ship. I understand this is a long shot, but is there any way you guys could make Nader and Bork fight shirtless on the deck of one of the ships?
We knew about this ships-not-passing-in-the-night (you’ll note who’s out in front and who’s struggling to catch up) and asked if we could arrange a liaison. The fighting shirtless idea is brilliant! Alas, no way we can hook up. –The Editors
IMPEACH, IMPEACH, IMPEACH
Our February 12 Impeachment articles, Elizabeth Holtzman’s “The Case in Favor” and Sanford Levinson’s “The Case Against,” surged our mail. It ran overwhelmingly in favor of Holtzman’s case for the impeachment of the President and overwhelmingly against Levinson’s case for dropping the idea. –The Editors
I vote for impeachment.
You have my vote!
REV. SARAH GARNER
Agree Prez should be impeached. Why are Dems so gutless?
La Grange, Ill.
Impeaching Bush is a waste of time. The real villain is Dick Cheney. He’s the one to impeach–and imprison.
Americans can demand impeachment at impeachforpeace.org, which cites the precedent of the impeachment by the House (but no conviction in the Senate) of federal Judge James Peck in 1830, initiated by a private citizen. The website uses this original impeachment request to create printable PDFs so citizens can submit their own request to the House for the impeachment of George W. Bush.
White Bear Lake, Minn.
Elizabeth Holtzman has it just right: Failure to impeach George W. Bush condones his actions. House Democratic leaders fear that even using the I-word will make them look like bad sports–sore winners, one might say. That attitude strengthens in us the sickening fear that the constitutional rule of law has become corrupted into a game of raw power. Fortunately, a number of Democrats are trawling for our support for their presidential bids. I will not support any candidate for President who has not shown respect for the office by supporting impeachment of its current occupant.
I agree with Elizabeth Holtzman that George Bush’s conduct warrants serious investigation, if not impeachment. However, with Bush, we are in a much different position than we were with Nixon. By the time the Watergate investigation reached into the Oval Office, Vice President Spiro Agnew had resigned. Until Dick Cheney is also out of the picture, I cannot support miring the country in the politics of impeachment just as the Democrats have finally regained control of Congress.
MARIA L. WATSON
Signal Mountain, Tenn.
Impeach Bush? If “agnew” were an action verb, Dick Cheney should be the direct object.
Crescent Valley, Nev.
Bill Clinton received a sexual favor and lied about it, for which he was impeached. George W. Bush has screwed the entire nation and lied about everything. Where are the impeachment papers?
It is Congress’s duty to impeach. Bush’s clear violations of the oath of office are crimes enough. That same oath of office binds Congress to act. If they fail to act, they will be violating their own oaths, and will therefore tacitly become part of the Bush regime’s conspiracy to destroy the Constitution. However, I am in full agreement with Levinson that the system is broken.
New York City
To argue as my friend Sanford Levinson did that the Administration is only “grossly incompetent”–and that the President therefore should not be impeached, having not committed “high crimes”–is to completely miss the point. It’s a highly competent Administration, one of the most competent ever, the way a sociopath–say, Ted Bundy–is competent.
As for high crimes: Under the leadership of George W. Bush, tyranny is now institutionalized in the form of the unitary executive and, especially, the anticonstitutional extension, as though by an absolute monarch, of the constitutionally allocated role of “commander in chief.” This is probably the most breathtaking assault on democratic government ever to take place in a supposedly stable democracy. The President’s ultimate command (rarely exercised by past Presidents) over the armed forces has been turned into a claim to exercise dictatorial command over all persons, not only in the United States but in other nations as well. As for the legislature, its role in the separation of powers has been effectively abolished, no matter who controls it; it remains to be seen whether any part of that role can be recaptured.
As things stand, the President still ignores it and suffers no penalty for doing so. He does whatever he wants–e.g., setting out to destroy New York State’s public hospitals. The things he can’t do–e.g., invent and implement an overall “healthcare” policy all by himself–are things he doesn’t want to do anyhow, since he and his accomplices are against all government other than that which further enriches or empowers themselves. So all the agitated discussion on the left about what the Democrats ought to be doing is about nothing. Can anyone seriously believe that Bush will give up his warmaking powers if Congress denies him funding?
And what have the leaders of the one-party state accomplished? They’ve stolen countless billions from the national economy (and Iraq’s as well), and transferred it to themselves and their friends; they’ve installed a regime of spies and torturers at the heart of the state; they’ve suborned the military to surrender its professional responsibilities to an ex-deserter turned tyrant. Abroad they engage in willful slaughter, including that of the nation’s young, to enhance their own control. They’ve carefully presided over the continued destruction of a center of African-American population exactly as they want to; taken over the National Labor Relations Board for their antiunion agenda; cemented their party’s coalition with Christian totalitarians at the expense of science, healthcare and democracy itself; packed the court system and ignored its remnants of independence when it would interfere with their power; stolen one and possibly two presidential elections.
This is incompetence? What could they possibly have done with more success? Quite possibly the idea of impeachment is chimerical. But please!
I couldn’t disagree more with Professor Levinson when he says the Founders deliberately limited impeachment to criminal activity. They regarded impeachment as the way to remove a President, or other high officials, for misconduct. James Madison, for instance, said that a President who had come under “suspicion” could even be “suspended” pending impeachment. Andrew Johnson was worried that Congress would do that to him, and he was talking about calling up the armed forces.
Madison, who surely knew what the Framers meant, said in a House speech in 1789 that a President could be removed from office just for firing good men. Unfortunately the House, debating Johnson’s impeachment in late 1867, took the position that criminal activity was needed. But that’s not what the Framers thought. Abuse of power is what they had in mind. The bottom line is that an impeachable offense is, as Gerald Ford once argued, whatever Congress says it is.
The House Judiciary Committee in 1867 accused Johnson of “corrupt abuse of the appointing, pardoning and veto powers,” especially in granting pardons to qualify rebel officers for election to state office, when their popularity rested on “their known hostility to the government of the Union.” The House debate boiled down to whether the impeachment power was broad enough or whether it required a showing of indictable crimes. The House voted 108 to 57 for indictable crimes. Months later the Senate, confronted with a law with criminal provisions but that many thought unconstitutional, refused by a single vote to convict him. The vote in the House months earlier to impeach the President for abuse of power was completely in accord with what the Framers had in mind.
Center for the Study of the Presidency
221B BAKER STREET, LONDON
This is so old, so last year–you thought you’d got all the cluck-clucks you were going to get from the Conan Doyle crowd. But I have a habit of stashing away my Nations and getting to them whenever I have a break from cleaning out the chicken coop. On page 35 of the November 27 issue, you give 21B Baker Street as Sherlock Holmes’s address. First error I’ve ever caught in The Nation. Congratulations on an awe-inspiring copy desk.
We thank Ms. Corbin for 221 B. We have deduced from her neat handwritten message, penned in ballpoint on a Protect the Seals notecard, that she is a right-handed Luddite of a certain age; a smoker who is trying to quit; and a woman possessed of an exquisite taste in publications, a kind heart, a sharp eye and a crazy uncle living in São Paulo. Elementary. –The Editors