Johanna Neuman / Los Angeles Times & Associated Press – 2008-07-26 09:57:42
Is Hearing to Impeach Bush Merely ‘Anger Management’?Johanna Neuman / Los Angeles Times
They lined up by the hundreds to be a witness to history at the Judiciary Committee’s unofficial impeachment hearings of George W. Bush today.
It wasn’t called that of course. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-S.F.) had balked at a real impeachment hearing. Something about fearing a voter backlash from the public, already in a bad mood about Congress’ inaction on core issues.
But today’s hearing by the House Judiciary Committee — billed as an inquiry to the Bush administration’s use of executive power — was ripe with opportunity for those who want to evict the president from office.
Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) accused the administration of diminishing legislative power “beyond recognition” and cited “a litany of wrongful actions,” accusing the White House of “a dangerous consolidation of power.”
Rep. Maurice “Mo” Hinchey (D-N.Y.) said of the White House, “I think this is the most impeachable administration in the history of our country.”
But Republicans (except for one, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, an outspoken Bush foe) defended the White House.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, belittled Democrats’ attempts to turn the proceedings into an impeachment forum. If last month’s hearing with former White House spokesman Scott McClellan amounted to a “Book of the Month Club,” he said, today’s is “an anger management class. Nothing is going to come out of this hearing on impeachment.”
And Rep. Steve King of Iowa argued that after 45 hearings — with such witnesses as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington, McClellan and former Ambassador Joe Wilson — there was no evidence that the Bush administration had committed any high crimes and misdeameanors. King also claimed that a recently declassified CIA document proves the president’s controversial 16-words in his 2003 State of the Union address about Saddam Hussein seeking uranium from Niger are corroborated by Wilson’s report.
Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) reminded them both that “to the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing.”
The hearing did however afford an opportunity for Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to air one of his 35 articles of impeachment about Bush — the one about manipulating intelligence to hoodwink the public and Congress about Iraq’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
And the hearing also gave an opportunity for former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, now the Libertarian Party’s presidential standard bearer, to note that because of the Bush administration’s politicalization of the Justice Department, four times as many Americans now have more trust in the Post Office.
Just Don’t Call it Impeachment
WASHINGTON (July 26, 2008) — Call it the un-impeachment hearing.
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Friday it insisted was not about removing President Bush from office. But critics of Bush’s policies couldn’t pass up the chance to charge the president with a long list of impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Leading the way was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the former Democratic presidential candidate who has brought repeated impeachment resolutions on the House floor against Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
As he walked into the hearing room, holding hands with his wife, Kucinich got a rock star welcome of whistles, hoots and clapping from hundreds of anti-war, anti-Bush people crammed into the room and lining the hallways outside.
“The decision before us is whether to demand accountability for one of the gravest injustices imaginable,” Kucinich testified, avoiding use of the “I” word.
The House Democratic leadership, not interested in a bloody impeachment battle in the last year of Bush’s presidency, steered Kucinich’s resolutions to the Judiciary Committee where they could quietly fade away, but Friday’s hearing gave Kucinich and his allies an opportunity to air their views.
“To the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing,” said committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., pointing out the less incendiary title of the event, “executive power and its constitutional limitations.”
Still, Conyers, a vocal opponent of Bush, noted that his panel had pursued many issues that Kucinich and others regard as impeachable offenses: manipulating intelligence about Iraq; misusing authority with regard to torture, detention and rendition; politicizing the Justice Department and retaliating against critics, as in the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Wilson.
Republicans, clearly in the minority at the hearing, expressed suspicion at Democratic motives. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River (Sacramento County), called it “impeachment lite,” where people were given free rein to impugn Bush but not to impeach him.
The committee reminded lawmakers and those testifying that House rules prohibit “personal abuse, innuendo or ridicule of the president.” The House Rules and Manual points out that suggestions of mendacity, or accusations of hypocrisy, demagoguery or deception were out of order.
Still, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, asserted that Bush was “the worst president that our nation has ever suffered.” And Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., concluded that “this is the most impeachable administration in the history of America because of the way that it has clearly violated the law.”
George Mason University School of Law Professor Jeremy Rabkin said he was “astonished” by the hearing.
“The tone of these deliberations is slightly demented,” Rabkin said. “You should all remind yourselves that the rest of the country is not necessarily in this same bubble in which people think it is reasonable to describe the president as if he were Caligula.”
© 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
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