To Impeach or Not To Impeach?

John Nichols, over at The Nation, reports that several Vermont towns have resolved that Bush should be impeached. He mentions four towns, each of which were inspired by the example of

Voters in the town of Newfane, where the movement began, endors[ing] impeachment by a resounding margin. The paper ballot vote was 121-29

. . .

Though it is a little-known and even less-used power, state legislatures can officially forward impeachment resolutions to Congress.

The impeachment question has come up more and more over the last few weeks, as Harold Meyerson notes in his column at the Washington Post:

It’s all over the blogosphere. It’s the cover story in the current Harper’s. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed an impeachment resolution. Antiwar activists, civil libertarians, all the usual-suspect constituencies have growing impeachment tendencies. But it’s reaching beyond the usual suspects

At first, I admit I am excited about these developments. Bush has, after all, clearly misled (the term I guess we are all using when there isn’t quite enough evidence to say “lied”) us about a number of important issues. Nichols reprints the Vermont resolution, which has a brief list of the items, but as Meyerson notes the standout item is the domestic wiretapping program, because it so clearly violates the law. At first, then, there seems to be a solid case for at the very least opening impeachment proceedings.

Yet in both pieces we also see why this would be a tactically questionable move. From Nichols:

U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders . . . responded to the call from the towns with an acknowledgement that Bush “has been a disaster for our country, and a number of actions that he has taken may very well not have been legal.” Yet . . . Sanders said that Republican control of the House and Senate makes it “impractical to talk about impeachment” at this point.

In other words, whatever the facts of the case, nothing will get done about it while Republicans control Congress. Meyerson moves from this conclusion to the assertion that

Democrats need to win in November — a goal that looks increasingly within reach, and the goal on which the growing legions of Bush haters should focus their attentions. To dwell on impeachment now would be to drain energy from the election efforts that need to succeed if impeachment is ever truly to be on the agenda. To insist on support for impeachment as a litmus test for Democratic candidates would be to impede those efforts altogether.

Which I think is absolutely true. The Democrats retaking Congress is far and away the best hope for any American who is troubled by the way things are going. The problem, of course, is that Bush may actually be guilty of crimes, that his behavior might merit impeachment, and that he seems to be allowed to go unpunished because his party runs the country. Even though I understand the tactical merit of remaining focused on the elections, it is a tragedy that the laws of our nation have stopped applying to the President. The Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. Their constituents should be ashamed of them. So ashamed that they do something about it. In November.