Friday, June 17, 2005

Impeachment… Bush vs. Clinton

Congressman John Conyer’s efforts to investigate Bush’s run-up to the Iraq War has got me thinking about which acts the US government is willing to prosecute and which it is willing to ignore. There are not many things about our government that get me angry. For the most part, I understand that governments, like most organizations are political. That political maneuvering delays, diverts and derails some issues from a logical course of action is to be expected. However, what does make me mad is having one side so powerful that they are able to prosecute the misdemeanors of another party while escaping all legal attention for serious crimes of their own. This is exactly what seems to be happening with George Bush and Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton was impeached for adultery. Conservative Republicans will try to tell you that he was impeached for lying under oath (how hard would it be to prove that George Bush has lied to us about any number of issues). The simple truth is that Clinton committed adultery. Most of us, if caught having an affair, would first try to hide the truth. How many people have an affair and then come right home and tell their spouse about it? Congress had many options for indicating their disapproval of President Clinton’s behavior… censure being just one of them. But the Republicans chose to go the impeachment route. Impeachment for having sex that was perfectly legal albeit morally reprehensible.

As the facts are now making clear, George Bush made the decision to go to war with a sovereign nation and then fixed the intelligence to justify his decision. Recent facts such as the release of the Downing Street Memo make it clear that his decision to go to war predates his step-by-step reasoning before Congress and the United Nations. The Iraq War has resulted in at least 25,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and over 1700 American military casualties. The prewar intelligence used to justify the war has been shown to be incorrect and inflated. It would seem that, at the very least, an investigation is called for.

It could be argued that Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinski resulted in victims. Hillary Clinton would probably top the list but it might also include, Chelsea Clinton, Monica, Linda Tripp, and maybe even Bill himself. But that’s 5 victims and no fatalities. For this we sought impeachment. On the other hand, Bush’s little experiment to install democracy in the Middle East has resulted in many fatalities, and skirted Constitutional procedures regarding the decision to go to war. It seems to me that if you asked an objective group of people which case was grounds for impeachment the decision would be obvious and not the one that history has thus far followed.

What Bush has done is serious. Many innocent people are dead and it will likely take decades to restore faith in American foreign policy. It seems to me that, in light of the current facts, investigating the legality of what the Bush Administration did is the minimum that should be done. I’m certain that any effort in this direction would not result in an impeachment. Bush’s crafty bunch of sympathizers will find a way out or Congress will simply drop the ball out of fear of future retribution. But I know this, if Bush is not even accused of wrongdoing by Congress when Clinton was impeached, that there is something seriously wrong with our government.