The chick famous for being Paris's sidekick and Lionel's daughter took a plea deal in L.A. for driving under the influence, and will undergo rehab, pay a stiff fine, and serve four more days in jail than Scooter did. In so doing, she joins her good friend Paris Hilton, and, any day now, Lindsay Lohan, in that category of the "We did more time than Scooter Girls".
Where am I going with this (other than probable mega-hits for mentioning so many celebrities at once)? I'm going to the United States Constitution, specifically Article II, Section 2, Clause 1, which provides:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment (emphasis supplied).
That means pardons for everyone. It means Karl Rove. It means Harriet Miers. It means Alberto Gonzales, even for lying to Congress. It probably even means Scooter Libby (remember, he's only had his sentence commuted; for the moment, until he is formally pardoned, he remains a convicted felon, and will likely be disbarred and suffer other stigma.) It means, presumably, Dick Cheney. In short, it means anyone and everyone, up to and arguably including the President himself, whether the President is on the way out the door, or whether he "decides" to do it much sooner. There is, of course, but one exception... and that is why I bolded it: "Cases of Impeachment."
The timing must be proper, of course, lest there by a prompt acquittal in a highly partisan Senate whose Republican members would not impeach this particular President no matter what the circumstances... from selling defense plans to Osama bin Laden, to ordering warrantless searches upon and arrests of American citizens... oh wait.
Anyway, I tend to agree with the reservations expressed by Josh Marshall, here: a Congress that can't even get a non-binding Iraq resolution through the 60-vote fillibuster hurdle, despite overwhelming popular support for their position, could hardly be counted upon to obtain the even higher 2/3 threshold for conviction of a far more controversial impeachment. Josh Marshall goes on to note, however, that he may be changing his view on this given just how obscenely lawlessly Mr. Gonzales and the White House are now behaving (even by their own obscenely lawless standards).
Still... there is another salutory benefit of impeachment... impeachment being the "indictment", rather than conviction (and removal), the former having been tried twice in American history, the latter... never attained (Nixon resigning to avoid that probable fate). If, in fact, the entire White House operation, which has now decided to behave as if there were no other branches of government to which it is even arguably accountable (let alone to the people of this country, our laws and our Constitution), there appears to be no other way to ensure that the President doesn't simply run completely amok, presiding over 544 more days of almost inconceivable criminality... followed, as with the case of Scooter, by a simple Presidential signature on a blanket pardon. And until and unless we amend the Constitution to remove that particular power... no one has the power to stop the most obscene miscarriages of justice by a lawless President (and I can safely say that it just ain't happening in the next 544 more days)... short of...
A simple way out. The House of Representatives may introduce, and then pass, by simple majority vote (which can be as partisan as the vote to impeach former President Clinton) articles of impeachment, documenting the various acts of lawlessness undertaken by of this President and his subordinate officials (as I've said... just the bald and baseless "executive privilege" assertions alone would qualify as obstruction of justice). The articles of impeachment would preferably name names of as many co-conspirators as are now known, with John Does for those discovered subsequently... and then the package can be sent to the Senate, where Harry Reid could, in a gesture of bipartisan political accommodation that [that prick] Trent Lott refused, simply table the impeachment citation indefinitely. (Indeed, lest no one miss the point, the preamble to such articles of impeachment can expressly state that the very purpose is, not merely to express our collective outrage at the lawlessness that has gripped the very people charged with executing and enforcing our nation's laws, but to ensure that the highest of high crimes do not go unpunished as a result of Presidential caprice--including, potentially, the crimes of the President himself).
Arguably, an impeachment that is not intended to be sent to the Senate (where it would die at the hands of 49 Republicans, counting Joe Lieberman doubtless casting the loudest vote for acquittal) does not violate Nancy Pelosi's (stupid and pointless) promise to take impeachment "off the table". The question, Madam Speaker, is not whether George W. Bush can be removed from office one day earlier than January 20, 2009; I'm reasonably sure that only Bush himself, or perhaps God, can do that (and I daresay, Bush is unlikely to go hunting with Cheney anytime soon!)
The question, Madam Speaker, is whether or not you-- you personally, M'am-- intend to encourage continued public criminality at the highest levels of our government. Because, as Josh Marshall notes, this level of contempt for the process of law, for the other branches of government... the absolute in-your-face by the Attorney General of the United States in simply refusing (without even invoking privilege) to answer the question posed by a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee-- speaks of men and women who now know to a certainty that they can and will get away with everything up to and including murder... as if signed pardons were already sitting in their pockets. And as we know... there's only way to ensure that, if in fact crimes have been committed, a certain President (one who calls himself "The Decider") doesn't decide that any accountability at all is too much punishment.
So what's it gonna be, Madam Speaker?
Thanks for this. Too many people think "impeachment" depends on 2/3 of the Senate. It doesn't. It depends on a bare majority of the House. Clinton was impeached. He just wasn't convicted in the Senate.
Posted by John Protevi at July 29, 2007 7:03 PM