Tuesday, September 4, 2007

WWGD? Impeach? Me, Neither

In the most recent issue of Vanity Fair, there is an article that touches on the unfair treatment Al Gore received from the media wayyy back in 2000 in his campaign against then-just-a-Presidential-candidate George W. Bush. The article sheds light on the fact that so-called serial exaggerator Al Gore was in fact a product of serial exaggerations by beat reporters. Gore’s claim to have taken leadership in creating the internet was corroborated by Newt Gingrich of all people, and later morphed into an alleged quote that he ‘invented the internet.’

Same goes for the Love Canal flop. At Concord High in 1999, while trying to impress the likes of students such as Angus Fredenburg, Gore told the story of learning about a superfund site in New York, Love Canal, and holding hearings on it in Tennessee that became the first of what would become a major environmental landmark case. Lazy reporters, at the ready to smear Our Man Al, took him out of context and purely misquoted him as saying that he “discovered Love Canal” and “I was the one that started it all". The list goes on for pages and pages.

True to the game, George Bush was all but given a free pass due to his apparent polarity to Gore. Where Gore was arrogant Bush was folksy. Where Gore was eager, Bush was cool. As the piece states, some of this blame lies with Gore’s media team for failing to define him. Bush was the Compassionate Conservative and ’nuff said.

But Gore never had a sticky slogan, and efforts by his opponents, quite talented at branding, to define him worked like a charm. MSM pundits and reporters, looking for an angle (if not a punching bag), and buying the faulty product coming out of the brains of Karl Rove and Matthew Dowd, found one easily. Well, caveat emptor.

I have heard a number of journalists this time around talk about how they regretted their failure to see Bush for what he was back in 2000 - a scoundrel. As well they should. Anyone who couldn’t see through George W. from the get-go, back when he was getting outclassed by John McCain and the Straight Talk Express back in 1999, and wasn’t disgusted by the South Carolina debacles of mixed-race babies and Bob Jones University deserved a government-subsidized Lasik treatment, or at least a leach to the nuts. Now that is health care reform that I can support.

Which brings me to a concept that has been bubbling up more and more lately in the chattering classes: Impeachment.

Folks like Dennis Kucinich and a number of grassroots activists have begun calls for impeachment of either Cheney (in the case of Dennis) or Bush (in the case of John Conyers, bloggers, and interstate sign-hangers) mostly for their deceit in the run-up to the war in Iraq. WMDs, 9/11 connections, and all the other falsehoods that stood as the paper tigers that scared America into this war, were evidently just that from the beginning.

I believe it was President Bush himself who said back in 2002, “There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.” The actual saying goes like this, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

It is a wise nugget of truth, and I hereby submit it as my own reasoning for why impeachment is not justified. If memory serves me, George Bush has managed to fool America and/or it’s representative congress three times now. By my reckoning, that stands as a big fat Shame on Me, not a shame on you,.

Even if you cede the pre-election sham as a mulligan, the fact remains that our congress was fooled into the Iraq War by the Greatest Story Ever Sold. Sure, the Bush Administration was deceitful, but they sure as hell didn’t fool everyone. Plenty of us opposed the war from the start, not to mention Al Gore. I see it as more of a political victory than a lie. Well, on second thought it is still a lie, but whatever. Given the 23 Senators who opposed, I place a lot of the blame on the rest of the schmucks. But, keeping with the theme, the Iraq war stands as a Shame on You moment for George Bush.

Now here is the clincher, the Shame on Me moment for America was the 2004 election. Peep the time frame - UN speech, beginning or Iraq War, Authorization vote, all of these events happened well before November 2, 2004. By that time, even if it wasn’t as crystal clear as it is today, it was clear enough. Bush was a crook. And what did we do? We re-elected him. Has he improved since ‘04? No. But has he done anything impeachment-worthy since then? No.

As far as I can tell we as Americans had our chance to remove Bush from office. It was a pretty clear choice. Now, if you are one of the 30% of the people who agree with Bush’s world view, I’ll let you off the hook. You’re ready and willing to take the country to Iraq and beyond, on the Fed’s credit card, and so be it. I am not one to tell you that your long term vision is wrong. For all I know you could be our saviors. But for the 20% of people who voted for Bush in either 2000 or 2004, and don’t support him now, you are the reason it is a shame on us. For the 50% of us who stood complacently while the war happened without major protest and full-fledged congressional overhaul, we are the reason it is shame on us. No one bears the entire burden (well, maybe the “swing voters” who chose Bush in 2004) but we are one America, and we take it as it comes whether it is a budget surplus or a class 5 hurricane. And We are why George Bush should not be impeached for offenses committed between 2002 and 2004.

Now if we can only get Al Gore to run again.


Andy Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy Edwards said...

Amen.. (to the whole post, but the last line especially)

netto said...

BTB, one of your most enjoyable posts yet. Hopefully all the apologies were getting from mainstream media will translate into better journalism in the future.

And I agree with you - democracy did not fail in 2004 - we could have tossed Bush out on his butt, but the people spoke. Shame on us for not persuading our conservative countrypersons.

Or perhaps We did speak, but our voice was muted? Maybe we were made into modern-day Milli Vanillis - we were talking, but others' words were coming out. My homeboy Bobby Kennedy Jr thinks so - see his article on how Bush stole Ohio in the 2004 election (http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen). I'll grant that mulligan too. The 2004 election shouldn't have even been close.

Anyway, I think even if the journalists had done their job and exposed Bush pre-2000 and threw some doubt on the Iraq War, people still would have voted for W. Fact is, there are millions of people in America that want us to be military bullies with a folksy je ne sais quoi. The question is, how do we change that?

Peace Czar said...

You know where I stand, BTB. Further, I believe that Kucinich now supports impeachment of the Bush/Cheney dynamic duo. And Conyers may just channel his old man strength to show up Pelosi's Botox-induced insouciance.

I'm totally on RFK Jr.'s wavelength about Ohio '04. As Stephen Colbert quibbed, fear is a renewable resource, so we need a paradigm shift. It's not that we didn't act; the plug was essentially pulled before the rowdy show could debut.

The majority of Americans support impeachment. We know this. All the blather about the harm and trauma that impeachment proceedings would bring... I'm reminded of yet another recent quote that Congress has proven itself able to both walk and chew gum at the same time. Much landmark legislation was passed during the Nixon-impeachment era.

The question is, does America really want to pull back the band-aid that passively waiting until 2008 affords, and actually tend to the severe infection; the pus, ooze & gore (pun intended?) that we've suffered? Either way the scar is deep, but not acting we may permanently lose a leg of our national character.

BTB said...

If we are bringing up health care analogies, I stand in the Huckabee camp. Let's focus on prevention. America knew it was eating Presidential Chicken McNuggets, but it was so damn salty, juicy and meaty (girl you know it's meaty) that we couldn't pull our heads out of the trough. Now we're a bunch of fatties with type 2 Presidential diabetes and we need to exercise our way out of it. Impeachment is like gastric bypass. Given the soul that GB surgery irreparably stole from my boy John Popper, I say bullocks to our big buttocks. Let's march on the ground, ten miles a day, and choose a better way. That is national character.

Peace Czar said...

Maybe it's the liberal authoritarian in me coming out, but the matter of precedent is big in my book. If men of true peace and integrity like Kucinich are for it, that's good enough for me. Progress isn't necessarily pragmatic. Look at the neocons' "progress" incarnate. I wish we could have a Velvet Revolution like my Czech brothers, but as Ralph Nader said, we need to "hear the rumble of the people".

We need to act upon these things the right way the first time. Shame on us once, twice, even thrice, but impeachy time is still nigh. When Black Mamba woke up from her coma, she still wanted to Kill Bill. The national consciousness is growing more lucid, too. What will September 15th and 29th in DC yield?

o said...

BTB, a very interesting post and topic. i agree that impeachment is not the answer. for several reasons. too many to go into. i will submit this: Bush is a lame duck president. he can't do any more real harm. i think impeaching him now will only hurt the democrats going forward. largely because it will be seen as a political ploy and nothing more. i could be wrong about this, but i seem to remember clinton's popularity increasing once the impeachment proceedings began. i would hate to see republican candidates get a bump because us dem's have finally got the balls to confront the whitehouse now that they are practically out the door.

Anonymous said...

Elections are not the answer to end abuse of presidental powers

My take is you seem to think elections should have taken care of it. With all due respect, I disagree.

The authors of our Constitution established the schedule for elections, but devoted a lot more attention to the mechanism of impeachment as a check on elected despotism in between elections. They had recently thrown off a king and had no interest in electing temporary kings every four years. Neither should we.

Bush and Cheney can still do a great deal of damage before the end of their term and fulfilling that prophecy. People are dying every day as a result of their policies. There is an urgent need to remove them from office in order to end the brutal occupation of Iraq and prevent an attack on Iran.

The purpose of impeachment, again, is to set standards for future administrations. We cannot give the powers assumed by this administration (to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements) to future presidents and vice presidents without expecting similar or worse abuses.