The Republicans are waging a desperate campaign of Rovian proportions to maintain their one-party reign in Congress. Fear, as we have seen time and again, is their most powerful weapon and they have caricatured Rep. John Conyers as a worst possible outcome of a Democratic victory.

As they fill the airwaves with claims of Conyers run amok–conducting immediate impeachment hearings–their clear aim is to manipulate Americans so they will remain in a perpetual state of fear. “So terrified,” New York Times columnist Bob Herbert recently and powerfully observed, “that they will not object to the steady erosion of their rights and liberties.” But central to defense of this nation is defense of its constitutional values, not just its physical security.

With that in mind, it is clear that the real threat today comes from President Bush and his administration. In blatant violation of established law, and centuries-old precedent, they have wiretapped American citizens; imprisoned citizens without warrants,charges or means of redress; ignored clear Congressional legislative intent; disabled Congressional oversight of their actions; and suppressed dissent and public-minded disclosure within the executive branch itself. This abuse and overreach of Presidential power directly challenges the “checks and balances” at the core of our constitutional design.

Even true conservatives now get it. A new Cato Institute study details how the President has weakened the constitutional order, and documents a pattern of “a ceaseless push for power, unchecked by either the Courts or Congress” on issues ranging from war powers, habeas corpus, and federalism to free speech and unwarranted surveillance.

Maybe Rove and his wrecking crew need to blanket the airwaves denouncing true conservatives?

In the meantime, to understand the real John Conyers read his op-ed in the Washington Post from Thursday. Here you will find a responsible, powerful, and constitutionally grounded voice which is all too rare in our leaders today.