The Censure and the Impeachment

Russ Feingold has come out for “Censoring” the President. This is a relatively interesting slap on the wrist, and I note it as a sort of fatigue of what it is that entails the implausible task of Impeachment — and the sobriety that such a thing ideally entails, but still itemizes it for the record. (Which, in the end, is all Impeachment really does — short of the next step of the “guilty” verdict in the Senate, that which did not hit Clinton. Hey! We have that itemized notation for Clinton. What the itemization was, history will just have to scratch its head and decide for itself.)

Cindy Sheehan is going to run her sort of stunt campaign for Nancy Pelosi’s seat because she will not pursue Impeachment of the President. We have come aways on that front from the days when it was bounded and hawked as a petition from “As far out of the political mainstream as you can get without being imprisoned” Ramsey Clarke, but seem unlikely to go any further. I remember what a novelty it was when a national polling company first touched on the issue of impeachment, and remember thinking “DUH!” when polls showed more support for such an idea than at any time during the Clinton administration. Today you can shift around and find a poll that shows the number up to a somewhat staggering 46 percent, though I do not quite know how the question was worded.
As it is, I am not entirely sure Feingold captured the right items for his “Censure” motion. The list? For overstating the case that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, particularly nuclear weapons, and falsely implying a relationship with al Qaeda and links to 9/11; for failing to plan for the civil conflict and humanitarian problems that the intelligence community predicted; for over-stretching the Army, Marine Corps and Guard with prolonged deployments and for justifying U.S. military involvement in Iraq by repeatedly distorting the situation on the ground there. A second resolution would censure the administration for approving the illegal NSA warrantless wiretapping program, for promoting extreme policies on torture, the Geneva Conventions, and detainees at Guantanamo; and for refusing to recognize legitimate congressional oversight into the improper firings of U.S. Attorneys. A few things on the list may as well be brought back retroactively to past presidents. But there are things out there that we can not play the “BUT CLINTON” game with — and I note the recent Jonah Goldberg editorial which attempted, badly, to do the “Pox on Both their houses. Heh heh.” appeal — the conservative commentator’s last refuge surveying the landscape, going for some higher broad historical sweeping ground of shifting political positions right as the Bush – Cheney administration just made one sweeping executive privilege claim, folding in the Justice Department. Oh, Janet Reno, where are you now — right when we need you the most?
I have to tap the shoulders on Bob Barr to get a somewhat more grounded anti-Clinton appeal — insofar as Barr recognizes Bush as worst in these arenas as Clinton and does with that what he must — something Goldberg’s appeal is incapable of.  The thing is that Impeachment and Censure are not measures designed for the current president, but for subsequent presidents.  It is a tough road — I fear the Giuliani President for the reasons that the latest words on Giuliani from sources like Harpers magazine are floating at us.
So “Censure” is as off the table as “Impeachment”, somehow conflated as having the same starkness of partisan fury. Maybe that is just as well, “Censure” being this weird measure that does have the effect of a no-confidence vote toward the president, and as Nixon said in his farewell address, he will resign because he no longer has a sufficient base within the Congress with which to work with. (Bush will always have 40, with a handful more feigning against him but seeming to slide right in for him.) It does strike me as that weird pooh-poohing of the “Censible*” that always seems to crush anything of any sanity.

* misspelling on purpose — combine “centrist” with “sensible”.

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