Friday :: Jun 29, 2007

Waiting For "Grave Breaches"


by Steve

Five more died yesterday in a war for which Obama finds no cause for impeachment unimpeachable war, and a war whose deadliest days were the last 90. (Clarification provided per snark and iamcoyote's request)

Look, there was a lot of good back-and-forth last night amongst commenters in my post about Obama’s statement that he would not support Bush or Cheney’s impeachment. There are several problems with Obama’s judgment on this. First, Obama is saying that the Bush/Cheney record so far doesn’t rise to the level of “grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the president's authority," as if that was the only criteria that amounted to high crimes and misdemeanors. Under that formulation, as Obama sees it an ongoing obstruction of justice and “Nixonian stall” to use Pat Leahy’s words; the violation of international law in our detainee programs; the ongoing lying to Congress in many areas; and the ordering of unlawful behavior by intelligence and military staff in domestic spying and the detention/rendition of noncombatants are not grounds to even start an impeachment investigation. Under Obama's formulation, wouldn't it be possible to commit a crime that wasn't a grave and intentional breach of the president's authority? Doesn't Obama's formulation play right into the hands of an imperial presidency?

Second, a seasoned politician would never give such a sweeping exoneration in the first place no matter how much they like to hear their own voice talking about rising above “tit-for-tat” politics.

Third, under Obama’s reasoning, we should all just hang on for the remainder of Bush and Cheney’s demolition derby. In the absence of grave breaches of the president's authority, he believes that the 2004 election was the last verdict of consequence on the matter, as if Iraq and Iran are tragedies that cannot be mitigated further or avoided outright as in the case of Iran.

It’s clear that the Beltway cocktail party crowd has turned against Cheney in the past week, as evidenced by David Broder’s column. The public now relegates Bush to the high 20’s in approval ratings, the result of a cumulative disgust over the Bush/Cheney record. Yet to Obama, we must avoid sinking into a hyperpartisan trench warfare, as if the GOP filibusters and other delaying tactics were a mirage, and as if it were the Democrats' unilateral responsibility to avoid contentious stands on principle for fear of being tagged as being "too political".

I said in a post several years ago that there are hazards in rushing past accountability to the high ground of Liebermanesque bipartisanship or even nonpartisanship. Transgressions are papered over, wrongs are not undone, and the perpetrators and those they serve see that they can get away with it and maintain the benefits of their misdeeds while those who suffered are plowed under as collateral damage.

They also see that a political party and its leaders have no stomach to stop them the next time.

Update: I admit that I am surprised that as of Noon Friday, none of the big center-left blogs think Obama's rejection of impeachment is a story worth their attention. It's as if there is a code of silence in the center-left blogosphere on this, whereas there is no reluctance to jump on every questionable thing Team Hillary does.

Hell, even Reagan Justice official Bruce Fein thinks Cheney should be impeached.

Update #2: As merciless noted in the comments section, Maha from Mahablog and Melissa at Shakespeare’s Sister have good posts up on this subject today.

Steve :: 8:51 AM :: Comments (45) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!