I can’t begin to describe my frustration over the fact that Alberto Gonzales is still in office. He’s been an absolute disaster as attorney general: he flaunts the law, runs the Justice Department like a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP and runs roughshod over civil liberties. Still, nothing happens.
The only possible solution I can see is for Congress to impeach him, but that seems like a long shot.
What do you think, Winston? Should the Democrats start impeachment proceedings against Gonzales?
Fed Up in Philadelphia
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Dear Fed Up,
Would pursuing impeachment proceedings against Gonzales be the smart thing to do politically? Congressional Democrats probably don’t think so, and they may be right. The Beltway punditocracy would be up in arms. One can almost see David Broder chuckling at his keyboard, enchanted with his own pop culture savvy, as he writes, “Today, congressional Democrats jumped the shark.” Would most of the public see it that way? I doubt it, but they might.
But I also don’t care. As a political animal, it’s a rare day you’ll hear me discount the importance of political consequences, but when it comes to Gonzales and the Justice Department, the politics be damned. Every now and then being a chicken shit just isn’t good enough for elected officials. Every once in awhile, political courage needs to amount to something more than a campaign slogan.
What’s at stake here is nothing less than the rule of law in the United States. And if Democrats won’t go to the wall for that, then just exactly when will they?
Bush’s modus operandi (faithfully carried forward by Gonzales) has been clear for a long time: first, he ignores any statute or constitutional clause he finds inconvenient and then does whatever he damn well pleases; second, when called on his lawlessness, he simply refuses to back down no matter what until, eventually, everyone gets bored and moves on.
For almost seven years it’s worked like a charm, leaving us with an executive branch that often acts more like a third-rate dictatorship than an embodiment of the ideals of the Founding Fathers.
How would Gonzales himself describe this process to a crowd of dependable GOP partisans? Probably something like this:
“Let’s say,” Gonzales might begin, “that Congress has the audacity to pass a statute we don’t like? No problem! We just have the boss issue a signing statement explaining why the statute doesn’t really say what everyone thinks it says. Better yet, we can simply ignore the statute altogether under the unitary executive theory.
“Or let’s say the boss wants to imprison some people, maybe even torture them, without having to put up with all of that annoying judicial meddling? Well, have we got a little slice of paradise for him! It’s called Guantanamo. And if, by chance, even it proves insufficient, let me share with you two absolutely beautiful little words — extraordinary rendition!
“Ah, poetry, pure poetry.
“And what if we want to do some spying on American citizens that’s not strictly legal? Again, no problem. We just do it anyway and if we get caught later, all we have to do is challenge the patriotism of the people who call us on it and they crumble like pie crust.
“I mean, is this stuff great, or what?
“And how about those environmental, labor, consumer safety regulations our corporate friends find so troublesome? Sleep in peace my children, we tell them, for we have your salvation well in hand: after all, what harm can those pesky little regulations do when every single one of the regulators we appoint to administer them are in the pockets of the very industries being regulated?
“As that great American, Gomer Pyle, used to say: Shazam!
“And what to do when those same annoying boys and girls in Congress start demanding documents and testimony for . . . don’t make me laugh . . . oversight? Why, we just tell them to shove it. And when they follow up with a subpoena, we tell them to shove that too. I mean, we’ve got to wrap the fish in something!”
Then he’d walk off chortling. And why not? After all, the jokes on us. He still pulls a big check from the US Treasury.
Clearly, we have to fight back.
And that, of course, is where impeaching Gonzales comes in. Sadly, there isn’t the stomach in DC for impeaching the man who’s ultimately to blame, Bush himself, at least not yet. Gonzales, on the other hand, is the soft underbelly of the whole corrupt mob. No one wants to stand by him, not even congressional Republicans. He survives solely by the sponsorship of Bush personally, who has no choice, lest the whole rat infested house of cards come crashing down.
And here’s the great thing about impeachment: it’s an indisputable congressional power, set out as plain as day in Art. II, Sec. 4 of the constitution. No one can claim Congress is exceeding its constitutional powers when it conducts an investigation pursuant to this clause. Whatever evidence may be relevant to the lawlessness of Gonzales’ Department of Justice is fair game and Congress will have an unquestionable right to go after it. And if he refuses to appear and defend himself, or otherwise withholds evidence, that will become just one more basis for impeachment.
The rule of law is under attack in this nation. Impeaching Gonzales is one of the best weapons available in its defense and we should use it.
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Why do you think the mainstream media spends so much more time talking about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears than about, say, the ethnic cleansing and potential mass starvation in Darfur?
(In case you’re interested, a Google search for Darfur brought up 14,400,000 hits; Britney Spears brought up 23,700,000.)
Distressed in Detroit
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It’s simple: stories about boobs (defined whichever way you want) bring in better ratings and more advertising dollars than stories about distended bellies. And with the modern corporate media, the almighty dollar rules supreme.
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Dumbfounded in Delaware
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