While I admire Congressman Kucinich’s courage in filing the articles of impeachment, the idea that Congress would consider impeaching the President raises the concept of hypocrisy to new, heretofore unimaginable heights. Blaming George Bush or Dick Cheney (or other individuals like John Yoo, for example) for manipulating the rule of law so that it is, in the area of national security, whatever the executive branch wants it to be ignores this basic fact: the present state of what may arguably called lawlessness in the area of national security is a shared responsibility. As an institution, Congress has been and continues to be (although to a much lesser extent now that President Bush’s term is drawing to a close) complicit in the aggregation of power by the executive branch.
As a symbol, the filing of articles of impeachment is valuable and important. It serves as a reminder (belated) that the Congress has an obligation to play a meaningful role in our government of checks and balances. Unfortunately, it also serves as a reminder that for the past seven years Congress has not fulfilled that obligation except sporadically when it seemed politically safe to do so.
Going forward, one hopes that we will remember that national security is a shared responsibility, a responsibility that is not necessarily discharged by keeping one’s mouth shut. Avoiding the charge of being unpatriotic in a time of war is not necessarily something that we ought always to admire or to reward in the voting booth.
The most important element in that shared responsibility is us: American citizens eligible to vote and able to talk to and talk back to our government. I actually believe it would be easier for our leaders to govern, albeit a bit messier, if they knew what the country thought was right and necessary. Of course that presupposes a government interested in asking and listening; not one focused on a permanent campaign to create a permanent majority. In the end, that will be the Bush Administration’s greatest failing: manipulating the public and the press to benefit and to entrench one political party in the name of a higher authority and in the name of national security.