Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If You Want To End The War, You Must Support Impeachment!

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the beginning of Bush's war on Iraq. I don't need to recount all the reasons why it was illegal, immoral, and unjustified, and I don't need to tell you what a disaster it's been. We want it over. All of us want it over. Some have been screaming for the Democratic Congress to do more to end it. The general feeling is that they aren't doing enough.

The Senate Democrats voted to set a 2008 timetable to pull the troops, and only two Democratic Senators voted against it; but the resolution failed. The House Democrats are pushing forward with a measure that will continue funding the war, while also setting a hard timeline for the war to end in 2008. People say this is not enough, and they're right. They say that the Democratic leadership is failing us, and they're wrong.

There seem to be two main arguments as to how the Democrats can end the war. The first is to repeal the Authorization to Use Military Force or pass new legislation that calls for a withdrawal of the troops. I'd love to see it. It won't happen. We don't have the votes. Yes, we have a majority; but it's not a hard majority. We can rant and rave all we want, but the Blue Dogs control the balance of power in the House, and our slim one vote majority in the Senate is not enough to overcome a filibuster. Some say Speaker Pelosi should do a better job of keeping the Blue Dogs in line, but they're clueless as to how politics works. Speaker Tip O'Neill fared no better with a larger majority, when that era's Blue Dogs continued to pass much of Reagan's worst legislation.

If you want better votes in the House and Senate, you have to elect better Representatives and Senators. Hating or blaming the Democrats won't solve that. Electing more Democrats will. We don't have working majorities. We need them. Some of the Blue Dogs come from districts that can elect better representatives. Some don't. We need to target for primary challenges those districts that can support better Democrats, but we need to accept that conservative Democrats are the best we are going to get from conservative districts. That's the hard truth, and no matter the intensity of our emotions, we need to deal with it. Elections matter, and we're still at least one cycle from having a working Congressional majority.

The second main argument is that the Democrats should simply refuse to continue funding the war. This is actually the most politically logical argument, because refusing to fund doesn't require votes. You just don't bring funding legislation to the floor. Critics of this argument say it would be spun by the media as undermining the troops. They're right. It would be. They're also wrong, because the spin wouldn't matter. The public overwhelmingly wants this war over with, and the Democrats could easily pass legislation that provides all the support the troops will need to safely and expeditiously get out of Iraq; and they could also pass legislation that takes better care of the troops, once they get home. The politics of defunding is not the problem. The practicality is.

George W. Bush loves this war. It's his identity. He loves to think of himself as a "war president." He got to dress up in a G.I. Joe flight-suit and ride shotgun as a jet landed on an aircraft carrier. It's so much more fun than merely spending an hour and a half playing video golf each afternoon, which was his habit, when he was Governor of Texas. There's nothing Bush won't do to continue playing "war president." He hasn't the basic humanity to even care about the human cost. We all know that. We need to think about what that means.

If Congress refuses to continue funding this war, Bush will simply take the money from somewhere else. I don't know whether he will have the legal right. My hunch is that he can simply slide funds over from some black ops that aren't even officially on the book; but even if he has no legal right, he will have his Attorney General quietly write a finding that says he can, and he will go ahead and do it. Even if word gets out, he will have no problem provoking a Constitutional crisis, if he has too. Certainly, nothing until now has stopped him from provoking them over other matters; and the time it would take for Congress to investigate, and for the courts to decide who is in the right, would run out the clock on the Bush presidency- which is all he's trying to do, now, anyway. Spoiled child that he is, Bush has always had others clean up his messes. Essentially, he was never toilet-trained. So, defunding won't work. Bush will find the money to continue his game.

Let me state plainly that I do support attempting to repeal the IAUMF, and I do support trying to pass new legislation that calls for a withdrawal of our troops, and I do support defunding. I support any and all practicable efforts to end this war! Even though I think such efforts will fail, I think they're important, for purely political reasons. I also think such aggressive attempts might have an Overton Window impact, which will help move the actual end date closer; although, again, I don't think such efforts will ultimately end the war. At least, not now. Not while Bush is still in the White House. And that's why I believe that the only way to end this war is to remove Bush and Cheney from office.

Now, I certainly don't believe that impeachment should be used as a purely political tool. I do, however, believe there are plenty of legitimate grounds for impeachment (buhdydharma has a good list of impeachment diaries, in this diary; and Vyan posted five outstanding diaries: one, two, three, four, five); and I believe aggressive impeachment hearings can get those grounds on the record, before the public, in such a way that there will be strong support for impeaching both Bush and Cheney. Bush already has historically low approval ratings, and a January Newsweek Poll showed that 58% of the American people want his presidency over with! A year before he was forced to resign, Richard Nixon's approval ratings were in the 60s! So, it won't take much to get the necessary publuc support for removal of this Administration. Some say that the Democrats will never get the votes in the Senate, but that ignores the political truth that Republicans are about nothing, if not self-interest. When they realized his Presidency could no longer be defended, the Republican leadership of 1974 effectively forced Nixon to resign. In the face of aggressive impeachment hearings, and the continuing public unrest over the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, today's Republican leadership will do the same to Bush. They don't want to go down with him. Even Nixon's staunchest Congressional supporters ended up telling him he had to go. Bush's will, too. If he refuses to listen, they will do what's necessary. Nixon's former supporters were prepared to. Bush's will be, too.

So, please continue to rail against the war. Everything you say about it is correct. But please realize that the Democratic Congress cannot legislatively end it. The only way they can end it is by ending this Administration. The war will not end until Bush and Cheney are gone. If you really want to end the war, you must support impeachment.

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