Sunday, September 18, 2005

Michael: Post-Term Impeachments All Around!

Considering that many of the incompetent ideologues who have made such a hash of the Bush II Presidency are retreads from earlier conservative Administrations, we had best give some thought to preventing the worst bunglers from rising again like some awful neo-con revenants in any future GOP Presidency.

A few of those I would rather not see return, in no particular order: Wolfowitz, Bolton, Feith, Libby, Rove, Rice, Negroponte, Brown, Allbough, Tenet, Griles, Ashcroft, Mueller, Hadley, Chertoff, Boykins, Gonzales, Chao, Rumsfeld, Armitage, Bremer, Cheney, and, of course, Bush himself. I’ve undoubtedly forgotten to mention many who richly deserve impeachment. Heck, I would like to have most of them impeached. Age may take care of a few, but there are plenty of hale and hearty idiots who will colonize the think tanks and lobbying firms and then continue to plague the public sector, failing upwards in the inimitable GOP elite fashion, for years to come unless we do something about it.

I suggest that we consider post-term impeachments all around. Normally, people think of impeachment as a way to remove an official from office, but impeachment has the effect of preventing the impeached person from ever holding a position of trust, honor, or profit with the Federal government ever again. Thus impeachment, even after an official has left office, is useful in preventing travesties such as Admiral Poindexter’s or Dick Armitage’s rehabilitations.

There is clear consensus among legal scholars that although impeachment has yet to be used in this fashion in the United States it is Constitutional. The practice was, and continues to be used in England, from whence we drew the institution. The English practice is specifically limited in several particulars in our Constitution, but, significantly, not in regards post-term use. Finally, the Senate voted during impeachment proceedings against Secretary of War Belknap in 1876 that they had the power to proceed post-term after Secretary Belknap resigned.

Of course, Democrats would need majorities in the House and Senate to succeed. A Democratic rallying cry for the 2006 and 2008 Congressional races could be to post-term impeach key members of the failed Bush II Administration, thus protecting the government from their incompetence and venality in the future. This Administration is becoming unpopular enough that running against it, even as it is out-going in 2008, could net electoral benefits.

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