Dover Bitch

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Let me count the ways

(Cross-posted at Hullabaloo)

Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's home run record in 1961, but that remarkable accomplishment wasn't enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. To get a plaque in Cooperstown, a player needs to be consistently spectacular for a long time.

Conversely, George W. Bush has been spectacularly bad at his job for most of the time he's been in office, and yet Congress is apparently waiting for a single, remarkable, odious act before seriously considering impeachment.

After posting on the president's outrageous comments about health care Tuesday, I joked that Bush has necessitated a version of the Ninth Amendment for bloggers:

The enumeration in the blog, of certain transgressions by the president, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others noted by the readers.

I simply could not list ways the president was wrong and possibly include all of them. Similarly, I couldn't possibly list, at this point, all the things Bush and Cheney have done that would, by themselves, make me vote for impeachment were I representing my district or state. The day the news broke about domestic wiretapping was the day Bush jumped from the "lousy president" to the "felon" category for this blogger.

Others could point to Katrina, Abu Ghraib, secret prisons... Again, what's the point of trying to list them all?

But for whatever reason, no singular event has been enough to convince Congress to put impeachment on the table, so to speak. More striking, though, is the failure of Bush's cumulative record to create any traction for impeachment. Not even with a majority of Americans supporting Cheney's impeachment and practically as many in favor of Bush getting the heave-ho as opposed the idea.

We're supposed to believe that Scooter Libby's probation is a serious consequence of his behavior because he can't lie to any more FBI agents for a while. It is tragic, however, that Bush was never placed on a form of probation when the opportunities presented themselves, repeatedly. For example, when Russ Feingold introduced his measure to censure Bush over the wiretapping, the Democrats responded with anonymous quotes by Senate aides:

"Feingold's grandstanding screwed the pooch and played into Bill Frist's hands," the aide said. "Thank God Dems punted this down the field. Frist was going to force Democrats to vote on a resolution Feingold had kept a big secret and he would've split the caucus on an issue that needed time to get the whole caucus to support. Russ Feingold had only one persons' interests in mind with his Sunday bombshell, and those were his own. He practically handed a victory to a Bush White House that desperately needs a win."


"There were concerns that this would backfire on the Democrats just as they were beginning to get the upper hand or at least beefing up the playing field on homeland security credentials," the aide added. "The Dubai deal, the war in Iraq, the president's numbers heading south. Democrats have a long history of shooting themselves in the foot when the good things work and we've been known to do some things that end up hurting us rather than helping us."

That measure was unlikely to pass, anyway. But think how much easier it would be to hold Bush accountable if the Democrats had been nearly unanimous (thanks, Lieberman) in objecting to his dubious acts. Instead of a series of abstract and already internalized events, there would be a record of established abuses of power and failures of leadership. The same way the administration sold America on the 17 U.N. resolutions Saddam Hussein violated, the Democrats could point to the number of times Bush needed to be reprimanded for violating the trust of the people and his oath of office.

By failing to hold Bush accountable to even a minimal standard along the way, Congress not only encouraged more bad behavior from this administration, they made it incredibly difficult to ever reach a point where they could say "enough already."

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