Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fuggedabout Bush; Impeach Cheney

I was going to save this particular screed for another day. You know, give President Bush some breathing room -- which is to say a measure of respect -- after his State of the Union speech. But the people who were immolated in the minibus bombing in Baghdad shown in the awful photograph atop the previous post didn't have the opportunity of any breathing room, let alone the hugs of their children when they were supposed to return home.

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I’ve argued for a couple of years that while the president's myriad misdeeds may rise to the level of impeachable offenses, to pull the trigger on him would be an enormous distraction at a time when Congress and the nation needs to try to pull together. Besides which, to the best of my knowledge, Bush didn’t lie about sex.

But how about impeaching Dick Cheney?

This alternative came to me while I was reading about opening arguments in the Scooter Libby perjury trial, which paint the Darth Vader of the Bush administration in an even darker light. (So sorry. Karl Rove can't be impeached, and from all available evidence Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald blew it in not seeking an indictment against him.)

Although a vice president technically serves at the pleasure of the president, this does not shield him from impeachment proceedings.

You didn’t ask, but no veep has been impeached, although such a proceeding in the Senate against Cheney probably would be on a technicality of a sort – he happens to be the de facto president of that august body. (Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, asked to be impeached to forstall prosecution on tax evasion charges, but the House speaker refused. Spiggy then resigned.)

Back to Cheney: Being a Machiavellian power behind the throne who is widely despised and just happened to be the president of the company that has gotten the lion’s share of civilian contracts in Iraq (and seen its stock price triple since he was in office) is not an indictable offense.

But two of Cheney’s crimes are:

* Manipulating intelligence about WMDs in Iraq for political purposes.
* Outting Valerie Plame as a CIA agent for political purposes.
Maybe impeaching the veep, as blog buddy Will Bunch notes, is “an effective way to keep the White House in check without tearing the nation apart."

Will believes that impeachment proceedings against Cheney are "a very, very real possibility." Although I endorse the idea as a sort of national enema, I really can't imagine it happening. For one thing, I don't like the sound of the alternative should Cheney resign or be impeached and found guilty after a Senate trial.
Can you say Vice President Rice?


Gray said...

Yup, first impeaching Cheney and then Bush would be a good strategy to get some sanity back into the WH. But who would be the successor? President Rice would do better than Bush, I guess, but there's a high probability that it would come done to President McCain instead, and the last thing the Us needs now is yet another pro-surge commander in chief.

However, all these probabilities depend on gaining enough support for impeachment. Since Cheney carefully stays out of the stage light, a real scandal is needed to draw attention to his wrongdoings. This could come from a congressional investigation of the special treatment of intelligence that led to the war or from evidence in the Libby trial that would put the blame on Cheney. Maybe one, the other, or both will happen, but it will still take some months for the chance to materialize. And time is running short, the campaign 2008 has already started. An impeachment half a year before the end of term wouldn't make sense. Also, if a republican candidate becomes president, it would hurt the chances of the Dem candidate. I guess these are the problems Dem leaders see in impeachment.

Shaun Mullen said...

Hello again, CS.

You are correct on all counts. I see impeachment of the vice president as necessary for the good of the republic. Democrats see it through a partisan lens, which includes how it would impact on their chances to retake the White House. On that count alone, the likelihood of there being impeachment proceedings is considerably diminished.

Anonymous said...

I heard somewhere that Pelosi will be next in line after Bush and Cheney are impeached. No?

Shaun Mullen said...


Vice President Cheney is next in line if President Bush is unable to serve. Pelosi is next in line if President Cheney cannot serve, then the president pro tem of the Senate, then secretary of state, then a succession of other cabinet officers.

Nine vice presidents have become president upon the death or resignation of the president, and two vice presidents have temporarily served as acting president. No other government official has ever been called upon to act as president.

Vice presidential succession is cloudier, but it basically boils down to a president being able to name his vice president as did Ford when he named Rockefeller. That is why I half joked that Bush would name Rice as vice president if Cheney was convicted after an impeachment trial.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly right....... Without Cheney being impeached first.... this country doesn't have a chance of survival. He's two wars ahead of everyone else. Also, look at his wife's Straussian training..... and ties to the British Fabian circles of Bush's buddy Tony Blair and you get a sense of how they are out to destroy America- in the same way that the Athenian Republic was destroyed by the Pelopennesian Wars. So, let us focus everyone on taking Cheney down first and immediately for the good of the next generations NOW!!