Former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon, John Dean, speculates that even if the House of Representatives were to draw up and pass articles of impeachment on President George W. Bush, the effort would lack enough votes in the Senate where the trial to convict would require a two-thirds majority vote.
My friends and colleagues say it's too late into Bush's term to impeach him.
Impossible. Implausible. Impractical.
My reply? Hold hearings, assemble evidence and pursue impeachment in earnest.
Impertinent? I don't think so, and neither does a growing number of American citizens, including Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who introduced House Resolution 635 back in December of 2005 calling on Congress to do just such a thing. It has roughly 30 co-sponsors and growing.
The resolution cites: "the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics" as reasons to form a committee to investigate the President's behavior for evidence of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Others have noted Bush's disgusting response, or nonresponse, to Hurricane Katrina and his illegal wiretaps as further grounds for impeachment. Several local resolutions have been passed around the country, notably in Vermont and San Francisco (Pelosi's home district) calling for impeachment.
These efforts look like more of a growing groundswell than a grinding to a halt.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Nixon impeachment process was that, at that outset, impeachment also seemed "off the table." But by late 1973, the flames of public indignation had been stoked by several months of Senate Watergate Committee hearings and Nixon's attempt to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. When the Supreme Court ordered the release of Nixon's tapes showing his attempt to cover up the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, Nixon resigned as near certain, bipartisan impeachment stared him in the face.
Former member of Congress Elizabeth Holtzman sat on the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon's impeachment proceedings. She's been a leading advocate of starting proceedings against Bush and recently published a book, "The Impeachment of George W. Bush." She noted that impeachment efforts must be nonpartisan to be successful, unlike the efforts against former Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson.
Regarding Nixon's impeachment Holtzman wrote: "Then the American people spoke . . . and said, "That's it, enough is enough. We can't have a president who is above the law. . . . We are not a banana republic.' "
Excellent news anchor and reporter Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" radio and TV broadcast recently wrote that former President Gerald Ford's pardoning of Nixon may not have been the completely healthy gesture for a nation that many, in retrospect, have judged it to be. She feels that an impeachment trial of Nixon may have driven home the point that no president is above the law to men like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney who became appointees of Ford's.
The rest of us have accountability in our personal, professional and public lives. Why shouldn't the president have the same? After the Clinton proceedings you can bet on one thing: No U.S. President will soon be putting mirrors on the ceiling of the Oval Office and hanging around after hours with a buxom staffer in a black beret.
And by the way, the Founding Fathers were correct: A monarchy was never a good idea. President Bush has yet to grasp that simple concept.
Memo to Pelosi: Impeachment is never off the table. It's a critical part of our Constitution — the one you've sworn to uphold.
Gene Racz covers Middlesex County government and is co-author of "Bury My Heart at Cooperstown" (Triumph Books, 2006). He can be reached at (732) 565-7306 or firstname.lastname@example.org.