Saturday, March 25, 2006

Censure Isn't Impeachment

One component of the Republican spin machine nowadays is to conflate the words "censure" and "impeach", as in: "Russ Feingold wants to censure the President. Do you really want to elect Democrats in November who think it's a good idea to impeach the President in wartime?" Ramesh Ponnuru tried the same tactic in a debate with Glenn Greenwald a few days ago. The media, too, is focusing on impeachment when censure should be the issue of the day. And, unfortunately, many Senate Democrats are buying the Republican line, afraid to support censure for fear that voters will think it's too harsh.

Let's be clear: Russ Feingold has not proposed to impeach the President. He has proposed to censure him. Impeachment would require action by both Houses of Congress; censure can be done by the Senate alone. Impeachment would be a long, drawn-out, procedurally massive process: a trial in the Senate presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Censure is merely a vote on a resolution; if it's approved, a piece of paper is sent to the President scolding him. That's it.

Most importantly, impeachment is the strongest action the Congress can take against a wayward President; censure is the mildest action it can take. Impeachment would topple a sitting President and could be seen as a Democratic attempt to seize by legal means what they could not win in the popular vote; censure leaves the President in place and merely tells him to respect the rights of the citizens who elected him; it gains the Democrats nothing tangible.

This President should be impeached, but neither the Congress nor the American people is ready for that -- and since Bush never was anything other than a figurehead for the powerful, calculating, subterrannean forces that arranged his election and run his administration, toppling him wouldn't do any real good, anyway. Censure, on the other hand, would attack, not the man, but the policies.

Censure isn't impeachment. We need to keep that clear. And even those Democratic senators who don't support impeachment have no excuse for voting no on censure, which, after all, subjects Bush to nothing but well-deserved opprobrium and costs Democrats nothing but political capital -- and not much of that.


lucretia said...

I think it's a fine idea to impeach pres. bush during wartime, using invasion without justification to justify the impeachment and thus end the war. This isn't wartime. No one is attacking us yet....but how long are the Arabs going to be patient.

I think cenure is a 'safe' construct provoking little interest.

The only way to reach the crux of this situation is to impeach.

Anonymous said...

There's a good discussion over at Glenn Greenwald's in the comments section today on the pros and cons of censure vs. impeachment. It's an issue of some complexity.

Keep up the great work, thersites2.

recluse said...

Oh lucretia, I love you!:)
Another crux getter!

Hi thersites2, you knew I'd pipe up for this one:)
As befuddled and outraged as you are at the deaf and balless dems who won't support Feingold and censure, I and many others are just as befuddled and outraged that not only won't these dems do anything but the democratic,liberal, progressive, anyone with a brain blogosphere refuses to rally behind impeachment. John Conyers and impeachment.
Let the state owned media focus on whatever it wants. I hear some of them are back in Aruba. And it's so attractive to watch the makeup models at Focks Notnews giggling over impeachment or trying to act like they have a brain to discuss it with while they read their scripts. The people are on to the criminals and want the crime spree stopped. Feingold's popularity soared after he called for censure. I think it would have gone higher if he'd called for impeachment.
"Democrats are buying the Republican line, afraid to support censure for fear that voters will think it's too harsh." Censure too harsh a punishment for causing rivers of blood to flow? Too harsh for the carnage (his word) this smirking puppet will gleefully continue? Censure won't stop this psycho pseudo president and his murderous cabal. We want it stopped. Look at the polls!
"censure leaves the President in place and merely tells him to respect the rights of the citizens who elected him." Useless. They don't know the meaning of the word respect and rights, what rights?
Yes, let's debate censure. More and more talking while people are dying.
" This President should be impeached, but neither the Congress nor the American people is ready for that"
Who says the people aren't ready? Look at the polls, please! The republicons have brainwashed everyone to ignore polls. They should be featured on every blog. The Dems who support country and constitution over the bush cabal should also be featured. Jane had something going over there, heroes and cowards and lemmings oh my. But I don't see it now. I thought it was a great idea. There will always be new people coming to blogs and reality news sites. There is no other media for dems, liberals, progressives, independents, anyone with a brain. I can't be bothered surfing to cnn anymore on the off chance I'll hear some truth from Jack Cafferty. The truth is on the web. The blogoshere can show those new people and I was one five years ago that there is a vast amount of Americans standing for their country and demanding our country's return to the rule of law.
I want nothing to do with any Democrat who isn't supporting Conyers and Feingold. I've only added my voice recently because I was shocked that the blogs I'd been reading for so long didn't take the FISA law breaking admission and run to impeachment with it. Illegal wiretapping? Oh joy! It's even been done before! And think of all the beautiful videotaped in living color evidence!
Words, words, words. The only word on a patriot's lips should be impeach.
Censure's a baby step we can take. Maybe the dems in congress will be able to take that step.
Anyway, sorry didn't mean to write a book. Hope you have a lovely Sunday.
Take care, Jan

lucretia said...

How did the Bushies get us to this point that everyone is afraid of them? I think the public is too. Jan notes Dems fear to be seen as too harsh--they've let themselves be framed.

Oddly enough, John Conyers is not supporting impeachment at least at this time stating too difficult given situation. I agree with Jan all the evidence is there, but we're not on Capitol Hill and Dems are, and they know the evidence should be more than enough, and still they don't want to do it. The Repubs are ready for it knowing from way back
impeachable stuff would arise as time goes on and it has, so they are ready with something. What is it??? Maybe that's why Feingold brought up censure to cool down the loyal followers like us giving the Dems more time.

I think there are deals going on here, deals that went on in the last election, and we can't depend on Dems in Congress too much as far as the Presidency is concerned. This is really our first time as a country to face the reality of losing representative goverment. (I wish we could talk to Ben Franklin and and FDR--both strongly leaned to the idea of a people's government and both were wiley in the extreme.)

Our path lies in the work Howard Dean is doing. He is a decent man.
Decent is a word that would not normally occur to me, but with him it does. Could you see using it for say, Wm. Clinton, Biden, H. Clinton, Gore (basically, but too much gloss now), Kerry??

Aside from the fact that Dean is hella smart as well. With that and a steady temperament, he is going the course between using the DNC to build a 'decent' party and at the same time,fend off the mainstream media who do what their corporate publishers inform them down through the line and just love to try and trip him up,and dodge the DLC Dems who also do some tripping up, but prefer to act as if he doesn't exist. I don't think Dean ever presumes to know where his efforts will take him but he has the optimism, hope and courage to go for it!

The midterms in Nov. are what's on the Hill's mind. The Dems don't want the public to have to handle two major things at one time: electing Dems to the House open seats, and impeaching Bush. But if we take back the House, and then impeach Bush & Cheney, the next in line for the Presidency is the Speaker (or was that changed to the Senate Pres. Pro Tem? Well then we would have either Pelosi or Byrd).

As far as media to read the alternates are so much better: The Nation, Washington Monthly, Salon, Slate, Mother Jones. And of course C-Span (Book TV on weekends should always be checked bdcause they have authors no paper might ever review plus panels of liberals. They're forced to have the right-wing stuff too,
like PBS and NPR, or risk losing license to broadcast,which is Bushie's objective anyway. Note what Bushies did to Bill Moyers getting him off his last and very successful TV program NOW and replacing with watered down host and material. The Right has been after Moyers for a long time. And the unthinkable happened.

Cranky Daze said...

Well, personally, I think censure is a reasonable call for now, and maybe for the next three years. Like it or not, for the present time and at least until next January, the Republicans are in the majority in congress. Despite Arlen Specter's pitiful little squeaks of indignation over Dubya's spy program, (as well as vague grumblings from other Pubs) any serious attempt to give George the boot will quite literally rally the troops, and is destined to fail.

Impeachment is pointless and dangerous without the support to carry it through, and a clear plan to replace George Bush with someone more honest and less corrupt. Where are you going to find one of those animals in the Republican party in DC these days? Almost without exception, they have been in lockstep with the Bush administration from the beginning. It is more than party loyalty. I am convinced that many Republicans close to the seat of power are terrified that a serious, public examination of what has been going on for the past six years could actually bring down the Republican party for all time. I've said it before, and I'm saying it again. To date, we've seen only the tip of a huge, ugly iceberg. Who knows what evil lurks....etc.

The Democrats in congress need and deserve our support. Calling them cowards doesn't accomplish a single thing other than to weaken our base. While liberals (myself included) are weary of the almost constant barrage of bad news coming out of DC, storming the gates will do nothing more than undermine our purpose. If we truly want to see a change in Washington, we need to have certain things in place, beginning with a call to the Democrats who are talking about impeachment to present a plan. If George is impeached, what next? So far, I haven't seen any enthusiasm for installing Cheney in the oval office although he is clearly in line to assume the presidency should Bush be removed. Who, among the Republicans that are in line to succeed Dubya is trustworthy? Which one is not so embroiled in the corruption of the Bush administration that they could be trusted at the helm of the old Ship of State?

Impeachment as a balm for the slings and arrows being aimed at liberals by the neocons is little more than a paper tiger. If we impeach, we should be prepared to remove, and that is going to take a lot more political clout than the Democrats have right now. If the November elections change the balance of power in congress, I think we'll see more support for impeachment on the Hill. And it is that we should be working toward. But we should not ever undertake the impeachment of a president without a clear plan for the future.

Like it or not, Bush is at last being viewed by nearly the whole world as an incompetent clown. And that may be the best thing Democrats have going for them at the moment. Public trust in the man is shot, and neither he nor Karl Rove nor any of the Bush-butt-kissers have the power to resurrect it. Ultimately, the suspicion, distrust and disgust must spill over onto his supporters, and they are finally starting to recognize that. But right now, it could tip either way.

As Abraham Lincoln put it, "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four sharpening the axe." We need to sharpen our axe, and then wait for the right time to swing it, and chop it down near the roots, then blow the stump out of the ground and salt the earth where it grew so nothing so ugly, so corrupt and so destructive can ever grow there again.

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