Sunday, December 25, 2005

Discussion of Impeachment Coming from Different Corners

Many in the conservative blogosphere would have one think that calls for the possible impeachment of the mighty shrub are nothing more than a liberal-lead crusade. However, I've looked around and some of the publications that are now discussing the dreaded "I" word represent varying perspectives on the political spectrum. Here's a sampling*:

From the Macon Daily
For the past five years, many of us have been asking what happened to the sane Republicans, to the conservatives who believe in the rule of law, smaller government, fiscal responsibility?

In their zeal at having finally obtained absolute power--the White House, Senate, House of Representatives, and arguably, the Judiciary--many seemed to throw the traditional tenets of American conservatism out the window.

It seems that their love affair with George W. Bush might just be ending.

Our forefathers created a system of government built on checks and balances that they envisioned would protect a free people from abuses of their privacy, their property and their liberty at the hands of anyone, especially anyone in public office.

They never intended for an imperial presidency to rise above the legislative and judicial branches of government, for they had their fill of kings and emperors who ruled with absolute power in the Old World. They knew that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

They wanted none of this, and wrote a Constitution and Bill of Rights to enshrine the protections they knew were needed to keep Americans free and democracy healthy.

They crafted a system of government rooted in the principle that citizens have rights and presidents violate those rights at their own peril.

From the Falls Church (VA) News-Press
The nation is at one of its most precarious junctures ever at this very time.

If it fails to call the president to account for his admission of a widespread disregard for the rule of law, involving in principle and fact the most invasive violation of the public’s civil liberties possible by any government, then a critical moment will have passed. A precedent will be set that will forevermore forfeit the public’s right to privacy, to live free of Big Brother.

If Congress and the American people are so weak kneed in this case that they will not bring this outlaw president to justice by impeachment, it will have failed to protect the most basic of the nation’s freedoms, and no one of us will ever again be confident that we’re not being spied upon, and subject to the whims of whomever may be looking or listening in.

In other words, there is no choice but to impeach President Bush.

From the Denver Post
Who needs the Patriot Act? Not President Run Amok.

The president has now admitted to secretly authorizing what amounts to an end-run around the law that is meant, specifically and determinedly, to keep intelligence agencies from snooping on Americans at home.

In asking the super-secret National Security Agency to monitor - without any court oversight whatsoever - the international phone calls and e-mails of hundreds of Americans, President Bush has gone far beyond what even the Patriot Act allows. So why make a fuss over the Senate's refusal to extend it? Even if lawmakers passed it, Bush would ignore it.

From Barron's Magazine
Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. President Bush is stretching the power of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy by indicating that he can order the military and its agencies, such as the National Security Agency, to do whatever furthers the defense of the country from terrorists, regardless of whether actual force is involved.

Surely the "strict constructionists" on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary eventually will point out what a stretch this is. The most important presidential responsibility under Article II is that he must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." That includes following the requirements of laws that limit executive power. There's not much fidelity in an executive who debates and lobbies Congress to shape a law to his liking and then goes beyond its writ.

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation. They ought to investigate it, consider it carefully and report either a bill that would change the wiretap laws to suit the president or a bill of impeachment.
*Please note that the three newspapers quoted are in RED states. Neither Barron's nor could be accused of being members of the liberal media.

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