Friday, February 15, 2008

What has happened to our country in the last thirty-five years?

Almost thirty-five years ago, there was a bipartisan effort to hold Nixon accountable. Fast forward to today, and there is a bipartisan effort to refuse to hold President Bush and Vice-President Cheney accountable for acts far more egregious than Nixon’s.

Compare the description below regarding how Congress acted in 1973-1974 regarding impeaching Nixon to its non-action in failing to even consider impeaching Bush and Cheney.

My source is Chapter 1 in Impeach the President - The Case Against Bush and Cheney, (2006), written by Judith Volkart, a Constitutional law attorney.

“…[I]n October, 1973, the Senate took the first step leading to Nixon’s impeachment with a unanimous and bipartisan vote of those present (77-0) to create a select committee with subpoena power to investigate the allegations of illegal campaign activities.” (p. 18). [emphasis mine]

“In early February, 1974 the House voted 410-4 to empower its Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation of Nixon….” (p. 19) [emphasis mine]

(photo and caption: One pissed off liberal)


Oisin G'Dea said...

...Well, I'm nearing 38 myself, so that makes Nixon's impeachment my very first (albeit very vague) "political" memory!

And, I've been wondering for a long time now if it isn't possible that the movement toward Nixon's impeachment was so immediate and sweeping because there was so much direct, physical, tangible evidence? And that the movement to impeach Bush/Cheney has lacked momentum primarily because that while there is a megaton of circumstantial evidence, and while they are the least popular heads of an administration (if I remember the polls correctly) in our history, there simply isn't a nail-in-the-coffin tape, witness, or memo?

Based on your experience and what you've read, what do you think?

Gail Jonas said...

In response to the comment above, I'm not sure why there's so little momentum for impeachment.

The fact that an actual burglary took place at Nixon's direction rather than the more subtle problem of leading us to war on false pretenses may have something to do with.

Yet, there is plenty of evidence that Bush, et al., acted illegally in attacking Iraq. The best source I've seen so far is Elizabeth de la Vega's book, US v. Bush. de la Vega is a former US Attorney and she clearly spells out the conspiracy to defraud the citizens in this country using false evidence as a justification for going to war in Iraq.

I also think Bush's use of signing statements is also an impeachable offense. The American Bar Association, made up of mainstream attorneys, wrote an extensive report on Bush's use of signing statements and concluded they are contrary to the law.

My personal experience is that most people are not interested in actively participating in a democracy. For instance, public funding of campaigns has been impossible to implement. I have worked on this issue since 2003, and the voters just don't seem to care that their elected officials, while their salary is being paid for by the citizens, are spending most of their work timeraising funds from special interests, which has to have an impact on how our officials vote.

I wish I could figure out why this generation (mine)believes it's okay to allow our highest elected officials to act above the law.

chris said...

I love your insightful point about how odd it is that conservatives so often get up on their high horse about how bad and awful it is to spend money wastefully, yet these same people see nothing wrong with paying large salaries to people who spend half their time engaged in activities other than those they were hired to engage themselves in.

I'm sure these same people wouldn't think twice about firing an employee of theirs who spent a good chunk of his time at the office doing work other than that which the employee had been hired to do. If I'm hired to design widgets, and I consistently spend half my time at work calling friends and family and chatting about the weather, this would surely be grounds for dismissal.

Yet, somehow, hiring a politician to do the work of governing the country, who then spends a huge fraction of his time on the job doing the work of a professional fund raiser, doesn't seem like a shameful and stupid waste of money.

A short-sighted, selfish, self-centered ethic has taken over America. How that happened, I don't know. But here we are. Sacrifice is s dirty word. Got mine, get yours. Win at any cost. The new American morality. Honor is a literally a thing of the past, and hardly the smallest consideration today, whether in personal lives, commercial transactions, or the public arena.

So today, we do all we can to hide even the most horrendous crimes, when in 1972, we gasped in shock and embarrassment and moved without hesitation to condemn and punish any clear, serious dereliction of duty.