There have been some presidents in the long history of our country that might have been considered great. There are others who were considered to be mediocre. Some, on the other hand, have been considered to be awful.
Our constitution makes provisions for removing truly bad presidents from office. The process is two fold and known as impeachment and conviction. In effect, it involves The House of Representatives acting in the capacity of a grand jury and voting to impeach, or charge, a sitting president with a high crime or crimes and/or a misdemeanor or misdemeanors. Unfortunately, The Constitution is vague as to what actually constitutes such high crimes and/or misdemeanors, preferring that the decision be made by those voting to bring impeachment proceedings.
Once The House has voted to impeach a sitting president, the matter is then referred to The Senate, which holds a trial. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court acts as the judge in this trial. Should The President be convicted, he or she will then be removed from office and replaced by The Vice President. If both are tried and convicted simultaneously, then the order of succession outlined in The Constitution will be followed, and The Speaker of The House of Representatives will assume The Presidency.
To date, three impeachment proceedings against sitting presidents have been started in this country. Two, those against Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton have ended in impeachment without conviction. In both of those cases, the actions were brought more for political reasons than legal ones, and enough members of The Senate realized this to prevent The President’s removal.
The third impeachment proceeding, that against President Richard M. Nixon, never reached The Senate because Nixon resigned before The House could take a vote as to whether or not to indict him. Of the three, Nixon’s acts were probably the closest to actual high crimes and misdemeanors. Most prognosticators and those with 20/20 hindsight believe that Nixon would, in fact, have been convicted had The House voted to impeach him, and that draws the inevitable comparisons between Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, the current President of The United States of America.
Both men have surrounded themselves with truly bad advisors. Nixon had Mitchell, Haldeman and Erlichman leading his advisory counsel, and Bush has Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld, among others. But that is where the similarity ends.
While many Democrats like to use Richard Nixon as a whipping boy, one must not discount some of the great things that happened during his presidency. More civil rights legislation was enacted under Nixon than under the administrations of either Lyndon Baines Johnson or John F. Kennedy, his two immediate predecessors, and we must never forget that Nixon opened China to The West, something that would have been unthinkable before him.
Nixon’s problem was paranoia, and that paranoia led him to allow The Committee to Reelect the President to do some unthinkable things, including the infamous break in at the head quarters of The Democratic National Committee located in The Watergate Hotel.
I admit that I am not sure whether or not Nixon had actual knowledge of the break in, but I know that he handled the affair so poorly that his administration literally was buried in the fallout of his mistakes. His famous, “I am not a crook” speech, probably did more to turn the public against him than the break in, itself. Through it all Nixon never admitted complicity in either the break in or the cover up. As the evidence mounted, it became clear that Nixon certainly participated in that cover up, and that is what cost him The White House.
George W. Bush is quite another story. Politically, there are many who would have impeached Bush over the economy, the war, FEMA and the profiteering of his corporate allies in all three cases. However, it is questionable whether or not those would have held up as reaching the threshold of being true high crimes and misdemeanors, given that The President’s own Republican Party controls both houses of Congress.
George W. Bush’s admission during his December 18, 2005 speech that he clearly violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that requires court approval to wiretap suspected domestic threats to The United States and his subsequent statements both during his speech and his December 19, press conference that he would continue these actions are a horse of a different color. Bush has clearly admitted to committing a felony while serving as President and has further said that he will continue to act in the same manner. He also has claimed that he committed these felonious acts after informing Congress of his intentions. If Congress means Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex), then, perhaps, he forgot that there is also a Democratic leadership in our country too. Forgot? Bushlip! I am certain that consultations with Sen. Harry Reed D-Nev.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) were never even on the table.
This was done with the advice and consent of the cabal of Republicans led by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who installed Bush as president in the first place by claiming that a recount in Florida would “seriously harm candidate Bush”.
These people are shredding the Constitution of The United States, and we need to understand that these actions by the Bush Administration do far more than violate FISA, they trounce The Fourth Amendment into submission. For my Republican friends who do not know anything about our Constitution, other than an outline of The Second Amendment, here is the text of The Fourth Amendment. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Simply put, that means you cannot invade anyone’s privacy without a warrant.
And why didn’t they go after warrants in these cases, given that the FISA courts have only turned down 4 if 18,000 such requests for those warrants since 1978? The answer is simple. The Bush Crime Family thinks that they are above the law.
When Dick Cheney tells the press that the War Powers Act and FISA should be repealed because they put restrictions on The President’s powers, they have gone too far. When Condoleeza Rice goes on MEET THE PRESS and tells Tim Russert that Bush needs these extreme powers to maintain our security, they have gone too far.
Thomas Jefferson said it better than I could in his memorable quote, “Those that would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security.” Perhaps, Bush’s Republican supporters should have that quote drilled into their heads until they understand the full scope of the acts of this adminisrtation. American philosopher, Geroge Santayana, is often quoted these days because his most famous statement, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”, has become so relevant in the Orwellian world of George W. Bush.
We are now well past political consideration and well into high crimes and misdemeanors. Even Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Arlen Spector, a Pennsylvania Republican, is now calling for hearings to investigate George W. Bush’s crimes as president.
While Richard Nixon may or may not have been an accomplice in The Watergate Break Ins, he certainly actively participated in their cover up. That participation is what brought him past political consideration and to the point where he needed to be removed from office, and when members of his own Republican Party came to that realization, he left office in disgrace. He did this country a great service when he resigned and ended the national crisis which came about as a result of actions perpetrated within his administration.
George W. Bush has taken us to war illegally by cooking intelligence, arranged for an unending government cash cow for his allies as a result of that war and the inept handling of natural disasters by FEMA, taken us from record surpluses to record deficits after Bill Clinton repaired the economic damage done by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and, now, he has admitted to committing felonies while serving as president and, further, admitted his intention to continue committing those felonies regardless of the law.
He is practicing a level of McCarthyism that far exceeds even McCarthy’s own excesses, and that must be brought to a halt immediately. It has gone so far that Bush flack, Ann Coulter, in her book, ACT OF TREASON, has tried to rehabilitate Sen. Jos. McCarthy’s image so as to justify the treasonous acts of the current administration. In order for America to remain America, this must end sooner and not later.
President Bush must resign NOW. He owes it to the United States and its people. And if he chooses to ignore what is in the best interest of this country and attempt to remain in office, then he must be impeached, convicted and removed from office.
The Congress at least owes that to the American people!
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT IN RESIDENCE