Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Retroactive Purge

There were a lot of detours and hair-pins on the long, troll-infested road to the GOP becoming the openly unhinged cult of lunatics, imbeciles, demagogues and bigots that they are today.  But one of the last barriers to their full-throated, baying at the moon insanity was lifted by Nancy Pelosi back in 2006:
Pelosi: Bush Impeachment `Off the Table’

By Susan Ferrechio
Published: November 8, 2006

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promised Wednesday that when her party takes over, the new majority will not attempt to remove President Bush from office, despite earlier pledges to the contrary from others in the caucus.

“I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a news conference.

Pelosi also said Democrats, despite complaining about years of unfair treatment by the majority GOP, “are not about getting even” with Republicans.

She said the GOP, which frequently excluded Democrats from conference committee hearings and often blocked attempts to introduce amendments, would not suffer similar treatment.

“Democrats pledge civility and bipartisanship in the conduct of the work here and we pledge partnerships with Congress and the Republicans in Congress, and the president — not partisanship.”

She also extended an olive branch to Bush on the war in Iraq, saying she plans to work with him on a new plan but will not support the current strategy and supports beginning redeployment of troops by the end of the year.

Pelosi also said she supports the idea of a bipartisan summit on the war.

“We know, ‘stay the course,’ is not the way,” Pelosi said.
Anyone who made it through the Clinton years has no excuse for not knowing to a moral certainty that the GOP had finally abandoned any pretense of caring about governance, and had let the raving, bigoted Limbaugh/Gingrich/Falwell Id of the Party of Lincoln completely off the leash once and for all.

And yet, when the moment arrived when history demanded a level of seriousness and accountability concomitant with the actual high crimes the Bush Administration has committed,  then-Speaker Pelosi failed her office, her constituent and her country.

And the GOP had made it so fucking easy!  By spending six years on well-publicized witch-hunts that came to nothing and then rolling out the entire impeachment apparatus in order to depose Clinton over trivia, they had already gone on the record as being enthusiastically in favor of launching full-bore congressional hearings replete with Special Prosecutors over little more than rumors planted by crackpot right-wing billionaires in the wingnut press:

From Brother Charles Pierce:
Not to disagree with Jay Bookman too strenuously, but the Republicans "legitimized impeachment" as a tool of partisan politics in 1998. People talked about impeaching Bill Clinton for years; aides to Tom Delay were openly telling reporters in Washington, after the Republican sweep in the 1994 midterms, that they could impeach Clinton any time they wanted. Ann Coulter wrote a book arguing that impeachment was essentially a political act that a congressional majority could undertake just because they had the votes to do so. Bob Barr wrote a book advocating Clinton's impeachment long before anyone ever had heard of Monica Lewinsky. The fact is that impeachment -- or to be more precise, the threat of impeachment -- was a political tactic already at hand to the Republicans any time they wanted to use it. Criminalizing the simple election of a Democratic president was a club that already was in the bag.
All Nancy Pelosi had to do was copy the Republican script, white-out the word "blowjob", write in "war crimes" and 80% of the paperwork would be done.  But she decided not to do that, and the day she chose to sacrifice her Constitutional responsibility to the God of Bipartisanship, was the day the immortality of the Neocons was assured:
Dick Cheney’s Awfulness Is Here to Stay

Why does the former veep keep saying unhinged things—as he did Monday about Iraq? Because he believes them. And Rand Paul notwithstanding, most GOP insiders believe them, too.

People seem mystified by Dick Cheney. What on earth is he doing, popping up with such regularity defending a wholly discredited position, as he did again Monday at a Politico forum? Why would he continue to say things like invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do”? The track record of utterances he compiled as vice president—all of them collected on video for our present-day delectation, like his famous “weeks rather than months” prediction to CBS’ Bob Schieffer right before we started the Iraq war—would have a person of decency and modesty hiding in self-imposed exile in the Pampean Andes.

I contend that there’s nothing mysterious about him at all. Incredible as it may seem, he does still think he was right. The tactical mistakes, if there were any, were mere details. But the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do, he still undoubtedly believes. And it’s important that we understand the real reason he thinks it was the right thing to do, because Iraq failure or no Iraq failure, Rand Paul or no Rand Paul, Cheney’s view will always be dominant in the Republican Party’s higher echelons.
The day she told Republicans that no one would ever hold them accountable for their Big, Bloody Lies was the day the leadership of the Democratic Party made "The Tea Party" -- that hilarious Republican re-branding scheme based on Gish Galloping the media with one crazy lie after another -- inevitable.

There was a moment when we had a chance to bring actual elected traitors and war criminals to book for their crimes.  There was a moment when we had a chance to force the media to do its fucking job by turning the Iraq clusterfuck into a year-long public civics lesson which they would have had no choice but report. 

But the leaders of the Democratic Party did not do any of that.  Instead they declared a Retroactive Purge and announced to the world that for the duration of the Bush Regime, all Republican crime was legal.  The leaders of the Democratic Party chose to let inmates of America's political Arkham Asylum -- the criminals and lunatics and evil men of the Republican Party -- get away with exploiting a stolen election and the worst terrorist attack in American history to ram through budget decimating tax-cuts, establish a torture regime run out of the White House and lie us into the wrong war.

The world we now live in is the one which those madmen have made:

Boehner’s ‘political stunt’ will lead to Obama’s impeachment

Let’s say by some miracle the case actually gets a hearing. When Obama’s detractors realize, as RedState’s Erickson pointed out, that their target of ire “will be out of office before such a suit is finally resolved,” they will demand he be punished “Now!” Impeachment will be their ticket because it is easier to accomplish than winning a lawsuit. All that’s needed is a simple majority of the House of Representatives to impeach a president and put an asterisk next to his name in the history books.

The one thing some Republicans have cited as their excuse for not doing so sooner is that the Democrats control the Senate. See, impeachment is a two-step process. The House impeaches, but the Senate convicts with a two-thirds majority or 67 votes. President Andrew Johnson (1868) and President Bill Clinton (1998) were impeached. Neither was convicted. Folks forget that part, if they knew it at all.

Last summer, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) told a constituent demanding Obama’s impeachment that “you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it” before adding, “But it would go to the Senate and he wouldn’t be convicted …” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) made a similar assertion then, too. And just today, according to a tweet from Chad Pergram, who covers Congress for Fox News, “Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) on Obama: I think he’s impeachable..But its not practical…it won’t get two thirds in the Senate.”

If Democratic control of the Senate is the only thing holding them back, imagine the pressure on Boehner to impeach Obama if the GOP retakes the Senate in the November midterm elections. Because the speaker repeatedly has shown an inability to bring the tea party faction of his caucus to heel, I fully expect Boehner to buckle.


Lex Alexander said...

Being right all the time on subjects this miserable has got to suck. But the subjects ARE miserable. And you ARE pretty much right all the time. *sigh*

unitron said...

"And in that world, nothing exists before January, 2009:"

Except, of course, for the mess on the dress. No way do the RWNJs intend to let that be forgotten.

Robt said...

As I look back into history with say, Richard Nixon allowed to step down and not impeached. I see it very concerning into how future President's and political parties are held to accountability.
In my opinion, Pelosi should have went the Special Prosecutor route and let the chips fall where they may. Yet the predatory hunting of presidents is inanely wrong.
It would require restraint to specifically investigate specific legallities.
Unlike the GOP as elmer Fudd aimlessly hunting Wabbi.

1) Fast and Furious--What a treasure trove of GOP lawyers profiting and tax payer funds wasted.
What did America get out of it?

Benghazi, hunting, Did the President actually ant Ambassador Stevens dead? ASlthough not one of the attacks on U.S. assets during the Bush terms were even considered. Those that died then were just expendable heroes?
What did we get out of that so far?

IRS so called scandal--Now what we did get is evidence the republicans were using the 501 c 4 to make tax payers fund their elections.

Executive order lawsuit--When Boehner and the GOP begged and ranted the President use executive privileged to postpone the implementation of the employer mandate.
Is the GOP in secret talks with the 5 conservative SCOTUS justices here?
Overall what we have is the House using it's powers and tax dollars to negative campaign.

Redhand said...

A rare disagreement.

I just don't buy pinning current Repub craziness on Pelosi in 2006 saying "no impeachment." Trying to impeach Bush "while America is at war" would have unleashed such a political sh*tstorm that I think it would have hurt the Democratic brand with what few moderates were left "in the center." It would also have poisoned the well for the 2008 election so badly that I think the Repubs might have done FAR better than they did, maybe even elected McCain (and Palin!) No thank you.

The Repubs were going to go ape-sh*t anyway.

I think the strategic blunder that was made was Obama's in 2008 when he announced the cowardly "look forward, not back" policy with regard to Bush & Cheney et al's war crimes and serial abuses of executive authority. He did so thinking, delusionally, that he could "work with" the Repubs even as they were plotting on Inauguration Day to obstruct every single thing he proposed.

In truth, I don't think he could have made things any worse by going the "I'm here to enforce the law" route with respect to the prior Administration's crimes.

At the very least he should have established a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" on the South African model to assure that a regime like Bush-Cheney's would not disgrace America again, but even here he chickened out.

The only solace I have about the crimes of Dick Cheney and GWB is a comment I heard once by the cirrent Director of Human Rights First, in NYC. She basically said that all States have a difficult time acknowledging criminal conduct, and that it takes time for the truth to come out.

Ultimately, I think that history will damn Cheney as a true American Pinochet; in the meantime, it might cause that POS to STFU if the Administration announced, with some subtlety, that it was initiating an internal investigation into possible prior Government violations of the Anti-Torture Act. At least that would be a nice item to see after the midterms elections, to put the focus where it should be in 2016.

Monster from the Id said...

"But the leaders of the Democratic Party did not do any of that, etc..."

Indeed they did not, which raises the question "Why not?".

dinthebeast said...

I find myself agreeing with Redhand, for the most part, but also remembering something I saw on Rachel's show at the time: Lawrence Wilkerson questioned whether the Obama administration could deal with prosecuting the torturers while still successfully cleaning up the mess they had left things in. Something about political will and political skill.
As for Cheney, all I can think of is Zappa, from "Society Pages":
Some day you won't be
On page three
Or page four
Any more...

-Doug in Oakland

Robt said...

In regards to Redhand,
As you state correctly that then (once) President Obama decided to not appoint investigations after he won the election would have been a good thing.
Only after Pelosi and the Dems chose to "leave impeachment off the table". Yet the American climate was looking for accountability. Investigate real alledged crimes and then decide what those conclusions demand.
Yes, Pelosi should have at least went the special prosecutor route.
Let me be clear between Pelosi /Coongress and the President in doing this.
--It is congress's job of over sight.
Now it was Congress's job of over sight when the GOP majorities in both houses were reality.
The GOP failed miserably to conduct over sight of a President of their own political party no matter how severe the White House strained.

If Pelosi did not perform her sworn duty to the Constitution in which she was sworn in over sight of the Bush Adm, then she failed.
-Pellosi knew she may lose the House after passing the Affordable Care Act. many Dems voted for it knowing they would be ousted. many one term congress critters because of it.

President Johnson Told us that he felt strongly after passing the Divil Rights Act that the Dems would probably lose the Southern States for a decade. he was right in passing the Civil Rights Act and he was right about losing the south for a decade. Actually, he under estimated losing the south for a Decade.

I am not looking at this as hunting a president as republicans do.
Fast and Furious initiated under the Bush Adm, explodes during Obama's first few months. Obviously Obama is bad.
Or like how Obama spent so much money, just blowing it on everything during the 2009 year. When he was operating under the Bush Budget until October.
If Dems had routed a special prosecutor, with a specific scope and let the chips fall were they may, either way it went people would have more clarity and respect.
As I recall, Pelosi opened up some investigating whoop ass into the CIA outing of Valerie Plame.
When Scoter Libby became a convict from that special prosecutor. I do not conclude the dems lost the House because of that. It did not effect the election of Obama either.
We watched the GOP majority of the House and Senate ignore their over sight duties and were disgusted!
The Pelosi takes over in the House and Ried in the senate and they did in fact hold many to accountability.
I think the 9/11 Commission provided an awful lot of clarity. Think of Condi Rice, What was the name of that PDB Cec. Rice? "O believe it was titled, Osama Bin Laden determined to strike within the United States", Condi Unquote.
They just could not go all the way.
Scooter Libby's prosecutor stated the trial led to the Vice President. But he was not hired and allowed to take that on. It was out of his scope and no one was presented with the task.

So for all the forgiveness Pelosi handed out by not pursuing White House illegalities What cooperation did she get from the House republicans? All that support for health care reform?
And Ried in the Senate, the GOP elevated filibusters to new abusive heights.
There was no conciliatory behavior when the House worked on the Wall Street reform?
You see,
By letting Nixon walk. They set a level of elite civility of above the law for future Presidents.
The GOP majorities failed so miserably holding their own to accountability.
Now the GOP wants to hold the Democratic President to all sorts of imaginary accountability.
Congress's oath of office is close to that of the military. It is not like Bush's White House appointed staffer (Agent Starling-a legal beagle from Pat Robertson's Biblical law university) who said under oath that she could not answer the questions because, "she took an oath to the President".
Yet you are correct President Obama not pursuing investigated account-abilities.
of the Bush Adm. Yes that is a good point but I cannot concede fully to.
I better stop here.......

Horace Boothroyd III said...

Obviously, this happens because the Democrats are uniformly cryptocorporatist sellouts who are 95% as bad as the GOP (who they secretly admire and would imitate if they were not so cowardly). The best corrective is to elect true Republicans, whose policies will convince the People to rise up and demand a Red/Green/Unicorn Coalition to Save the Nation and Distribute Ponies: flying ponies, flying ponies that pee lemonade and poop chocolate chip ice cream.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to imply that I could ever speak for Driftglass, but I'm pretty sure he's NOT saying he's "pinning current Repub craziness" on Pelosi's decision to take/keep impeachment off the table. The first sentence sets the stage, and in the very next he specifically refers to Pelosi's decision as the lifting of " of the last barriers to their full-throated baying at the moon insanity..."

I agree with the rest of redhand's post regarding Obama's delusional thought that he could negotiate with repubs in good faith. Fatal error.

Robt said...

I am sure their was more to it for President Obama not to allow for past accountability. Not sure if there is an argument to be put forth over Obama backing away for future faith healing with the GOP.
There is no doubt if it were under taken that it would absorb much of the energy and time of the House, Senate and the Presidency at a time where America was in deep and in desperate need of plumbers.

This is the best argument I can see.
It is just that,
The House & Senate majority of Republicans failed in their over sight.
Then, the House & Senate Democratic majorities failed . Although their was plenty of over sight done by the Dem majorities.
Scooter Libby being one, it just fell short of VP Cheney when Pat Fitzgerald noted that his investigation trailed from Libby to the Vice President.
Yes,Then Obama considered the accountability route and chose not to. Maybe some for bi partisan future dealings. Mostly it appears that he (Obama) did not see the time and effort involved to be essential at a time of complete disarray and economic collapse.
It remains in my book that the Bush Adm walked from much accountability.Not talking Prison time mind you.
although it could reach that plain.
As Scooter Libby received his pass from justice served from President Bush. There is NO DOUBT if Cheney was found accountable for illegalities and served up a conviction, Bush would give him the Presidential Hall pass as well.
We now see the GOP trying to extremely hold the Democratic President accountable. Even in falsely made up attacks of dictatorship claims.
This is to show their GOP base that they are strong and will hold Government accountable.
Memory doesn't serve their base well and they look at the attacks on Obama and cannot recall the complete Free pass their Congressional majority provide the Bush Adm.
Well, there was that question over Bush nominating Harriett Myers (his long time secretary to the Supreme Court.

I guess I am saying,
I do not think free passes from Party majorities controlling Congressional over sight or partisan hunting with tax dollars is acceptable to me.

jim said...

It's likely relevant to OP's interest that liberals were the only ones (politely) damning Pelosi's failure to do her job in 2006: the Right sulked in silence while the mainstream praised her maturity & noble willingness to look beyond petty partisanship in a time of war.

The thesis that Obama seriously EVER thought he'd work with Boehner, Cantor, et al fails to pass the giggle test & IMO insults the man's formidable intellect & political savvy.

A much more obvious explanation is that Obama worked to craft a narrative of his own for 2012, with the GOP as villains (who were more than willing to affirm it) who denied his virtuous overtures - because that narrative could (& did) guarantee him a second term, despite his abominable deficit of job aid (or CEO/CFO indictments) in the protracted & ugly aftermath of Wall Street's premeditated Imagineering of the global meltdown of 2008-2009.

PROTIP: Obama is being dead serious when he names Ronald Reagan as his #1 political hero.