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Bush wrongdoing and Democratic complicity needs to be exposed

Kirk Caraway

Last week, Congressman Dennis Kucinich stood for nearly five hours in the House chamber, reading aloud the case for impeaching President George W. Bush.

The irony is that Kucinich’s fellow Democrats, in their own act of dereliction of duty, chose to bury these 35 articles of impeachment.

It would be one thing if these Democrats thought the charges against Bush weren’t justified. Most of them believe that the president did indeed break the law, violated the Constitution and probably deserves to be impeached.

But they will not debate the issue because it doesn’t help their cause politically. They like the fact that Bush is president, that his blunders have killed his credibility and that of his party. He has become the best advertisement Democrats have for why the GOP should be kicked out of Washington this November.

But how do Democrats make the case that they stand for change and accountability when they fail so spectacularly to even discuss holding Bush accountable for anything?

Democrats have a great knack for engaging in political calculations that result in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. For too long they have tried to finagle, position and con their way to victory, trying to tell voters what they want to hear, even if it goes against their core principles. Voters as a group might be dumb enough to fall for Bush’s “compassionate conservative” line, but they easily can smell the fakery that has been the Democratic brand for too long.

The Republicans have done their fair share of pandering to voters, but perhaps one of that party’s core strengths is a willingness to stand up for some rather unpopular issues on principle. The majority might disagree with the GOP on things like abortion and gay rights, but they also get the impression ” however misguided ” that such stands equate to honesty and authenticity.

It was political calculation that led to the mess in Iraq, with Democratic senators like Hillary Clinton voting to go to war (without reading the intelligence reports) because it was good politics at the time. It’s better to make a mistake that causes trillions of dollars and thousands of lives than it is to appear weak.

It was that vote that cost her the Democratic nomination, as her explanations for helping to start this very unpopular war never made sense. In fact, it was political calculation that kept her from running for president back in 2004, when she would have been a much better candidate than John Kerry, and might have spared us from suffering through a second Bush term.

When the Founding Fathers put impeachment into the Constitution, they probably would have never envisioned that it would be used (or in this case, not be used) the way it has. Of course, I don’t think they envisioned that politics would become a career for so many, and that doing one’s duty for the nation would take a back seat to getting reelected.

The argument being made against seeking impeachment is that we have other pressing issues to take care of. Yes, we do. But what lasting effect will there be by setting a precedent of not acting on alleged lawbreaking by the president? Congress can’t spare a few hours to uphold the Constitution? I bet if we take a close look at their schedules, there’s plenty of time to spare on a hearing or two.

It’s not that the president should be removed from office, but that the evidence should get a hearing. In fact, it’s unfair to President Bush that he doesn’t get a hearing to present his case for why he hasn’t broken the law.

But what would also come out is that many Democrats were either complicit in much of these alleged illegalities, or purposely avoided their oversight responsibilities to stop them.

And maybe that explains better than anything why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment “off the table” long before any articles of impeachment ever reached a table.

We can hope that the next Congress does a better job of oversight, to prevent the wholesale shredding of what’s left of the Constitution. But let’s just say I have my doubts. If they refuse to stand up now, why would we believe they would suddenly start doing their duty sometime down the road?

– Kirk Caraway writes for Swift Communications, Inc. He can be reached through his blog at http://kirkcaraway.com.