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Friday, May 25, 2007

Back to politics: Why Bush hasn't been impeached

Hopefully most of you are reading this on Tuesday morning after a relaxing Memorial Day weekend (or Monday morning, for you international readers - ha, I flatter myself). writer Gary Kamiya examines the criminal activity of the Bush administration and argues that there's plenty of evidence for impeachment but not much will to make it so.
His administration has been dogged by one massive scandal after the other, from the Katrina debacle, to Bush's approval of illegal wiretapping and torture, to his unparalleled use of "signing statements" to disobey laws he disagrees with, to the outrageous Gonzales and U.S. attorneys affair.
There's little popular support for keeping the President in office.
[President Bush] is extraordinarily unpopular. His approval ratings, which have been abysmal for about 18 months, have now sunk to their lowest ever, making him the most unpopular president in a generation. His 28 percent approval rating in a May 5 Newsweek poll ties that of Jimmy Carter in 1979 after the failed Iran rescue mission.
Kamiya asks, "Why was Clinton, who was never as unpopular as Bush, impeached for lying about sex, while Bush faces no sanction for the far more serious offense of lying about war?"

Bush's warmongering spoke to something deep in our national psyche. The emotional force behind America's support for the Iraq war, the molten core of an angry, resentful patriotism, is still too hot for Congress, the media and even many Americans who oppose the war, to confront directly...To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness -- come to terms with it, understand it and reject it...
The rest of the article examines the declining respect for rule of law in America, hypothesizing that Americans have simply embraced the brazen bellicosity of their President.

The unpleasant truth is that Bush did what a lot of Americans wanted him to. And when it became clear after the fact that Bush had lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, it made no sense for those Americans to turn on him. Truth was never their major concern anyway -- revenge was.

Anne Applebaum wrote on the subject of the rule of law in 2005, arguing that sticking to the rule of law will pay off in the "war on terror" as it did in the Cold War:

Like the Cold War, the war on terrorism is not merely a military conflict but a battle of ideas. And just as the Cold War was won when Eastern Europeans abandoned communism and joined the West, the war on terrorism will be over when moderate Muslims have transformed the Arab world -- abandoning the radicals to their tents and their caves -- and joined the global mainstream.

Kamiya notes - and I agree - that Democrats are likely hoping that Bush's continued popular free-fall will bring the Republican Party low in the 2008 election, but it misses the point. Elections do not reinforce the principle of law - after all, Bush won re-election in 2004 despite his many legal transgressions.

It makes me wonder if this is Vietnam, but with a twist. In Vietnam, we lost our faith in government as they lied us into war. This time, the President has again lied about the war (the rationale, the evidence, the "strategy," the purpose) and once again Americans bought in and got a lemon. The President, mangling the popular phrase, still got it right: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, you can't fool me again. Damn straight, Mr President. You're fired.

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