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Brookline TAB
Brookline, Massachusetts

Impeaching Bush is Just the Start

Dennis Fox

March 30 , 2006

"Town Meeting urges our Representative in Congress to introduce and/or support a resolution impeaching President George W. Bush." That's the warrant article Brookline Town Meeting will probably approve in May. It's good, but it's not enough.

The article is likely to pass because a majority of Town Meeting Members probably agree with its "Whereas" paragraph, which says Bush "has repeatedly violated his oath of office by failing to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, in particular by directing and countenancing numerous violations of the Constitution and Laws of the United States, and by purposely misleading the citizens of the nation so as to cause the United States to commence war in Iraq."

Indeed, this vote is easy. Just about no one here likes the prez. His policies are disastrous, his statements dishonest, his personality annoying. Although "our Representative in Congress" Barney Frank says Michigan Representative John Conyers' impeachment motion is just a feel-good distraction, a symbolic Town Meeting stand will indeed make residents feel good enough to move it forward

More important, Brookline's vote will strengthen a national impeachment movement by towns, cities, and state legislatures. That movement, in turn, could spur conversation about just what it is we want people with too much power over our lives to be able to do to us.

At May's meeting, of course, Republicans and conservatives will claim Bush has done nothing impeachable. They'll say elitist critics who can't fathom the president's homespun charm and who still insist that both his elections were fraudulent are just retaliating the only way they can. They'll say impeachment talk is just payback for Republicans going after Bill Clinton.

Well, so what. Brookline Democrats don't really care what Republicans think.

A potentially more powerful argument maintains impeachment is none of Town Meeting's business. Apparently, the Constitution omits Brookline's role in presidential impeachment. Then again, insistence that Town Meeting should stick to zoning, parking, budget and other local concerns has failed to persuade recent Town Meeting majorities. So in the end there will be plenty of abstentions, and some nastiness and hurt feelings, and Brookline will congratulate itself for sticking it to Bush.

That's the easy part.

More useful would be pushing our own Democratic Senators, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, to join Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's effort to censure the president. Right now censure is almost as unlikely as impeachment, but high-profile support could animate the public debate. Why not amend the warrant article to ask Kerry and Kennedy to show some guts? Or is that too touchy a topic for Brookline's cautious liberal core?

The warrant article has a second defect: Impeaching Bush means we'd end up with President Dick Cheney. If, as we like to assume, Cheney is the real Administration brain, would we be better off or worse off with the Veep sitting on the throne instead of hiding behind it?

We don't really know the answer, so just to be sure, Town Meeting should resolve to impeach Cheney, too. Indeed, that's the thrust of some other impeachment drives around the country. Brookline should follow their lead on this one.

While we're at it, let's not stop at Cheney. Next in the presidential succession line is Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. He's nicely low key, but this is what he says about our impeachment-worthy president: "While we work to defend our country, there are some liberal Democrats who have taken the extreme viewpoint to propose censuring or impeaching the President who is committed to fighting a war against terrorism overseas instead of here in our streets." Better impeach him also.

Then comes Senate President Pro Tempore Ted Stevens. Remember that Alaskan bridge to nowhere? And Stevens' push to gut the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Him, too.

After Stevens, there's Secretary of State and Administration insider/apologist Condoleezza Rice. Then Treasury Secretary John Snow (Business Roundtable! NAFTA!). Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (enough said). Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (more than enough). And on to another dozen Cabinet secretaries standing in line.

Makes you wonder how many honchos-in-waiting we'll need to push aside to get rid of the Administration's policies. That's more important than just exchanging Bush for a clone.

So let's impeach Bush. And then let's move down the line.

Note: this version may differ from the published version.

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