Monday, August 20, 2007

Impeaching Gonzalez

Below I said that impeaching Gonzalez should be a minimal position for the Democrats. Well, Adam Cohen has a timely article in today's NY Times on just this topic.

Impeaching Mr. Gonzales has moved beyond the hypothetical, now that Jay Inslee, Democrat of Washington, and five other prosecutors-turned-representatives have introduced a resolution to conduct an impeachment inquiry. Congress is wary, and not only because of post-Clinton impeachment hangover. The grounds set out in the Constitution are vague, and the Democrats do not want to be seen as overreaching.

Members of Congress should keep in mind, however, that the founders gave them the impeachment power for a reason — and Mr. Gonzales’s malfeasance is just the sort they were worried about.

The Republicans, by their frivolous impeachment of Clinton, have damaged the functionality of the tool of impeachment. By impeaching Gonzalez, the Democrats could restore the integrity of that tool.

Your not likely to find many people (outside wingnut circles and the West Wing) who would disagree that Gonzalez should not longer be Attorney General. How then could the usual suspects argue against impeaching him if Bush refuses to fire him? They will argue that an impeachment will simply further poison the waters in D.C., but are they seriously going to suggest that keeping a liar and incompetent like Gonzalez in charge of our justice system (and, with the gutting of the FISA law, responsible for overseeing warentless wiretapping) is better than the rancour that would come from an impeachment proceeding?

Perhaps its time we re-establish some standards for acceptable behavior in our government officials?

Besides, whose to say that the impeachment proceedings would last long enough to be that rancourous. If the Congress were to demonstrate serious resolve on this matter, Gonzalez may just leave of his own accord. That's the opinion of Mr. Cohen.

If the House began an impeachment inquiry, Mr. Gonzales would most likely resign rather than risk the unpleasantness of the hearings, and the ignominy of being removed. Congress should think of it as a constitutional tap on the shoulder, to let the attorney general know that the time has truly come for him to go.

And there is one more advantage of an impeachment inquiry: the Supreme court has already ruled that, in the case of criminal inquiry or inquiries related to impeachment proceedings, claims of executive privilege are moot. Bush would rather Gonzalez leave to "spend more time with his family" than risk having to expose how they really work.

And if Bush doesn't care enough to finally fire Gonzo, the Republicans certainly won't be happy being saddled with him going into the 2008 election.


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