Todd Gitlin’s TPM Cafe post “Impeachment Pit” adds some common sense to the debate about the wisdom of impeaching Bush and Cheney. Gitlin concedes the strong legal case for impeachment based on the puppet’s and his master’s reckless commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, then adds “But impeachment is one those apparently golden ideas that tarnish in the bright light of day.”
Gitlin quotes from Michael Tomasky’s insightful WaPo op-ed, “The Dumbest Move the Dems Could Make,” arguing,
Impeachment is not merely a bad idea, but the single worst course of action that Democrats could possibly undertake — the only thing they could do that might, in one stroke, convert Bush from the figure of contempt and mockery he is now into one of vague sympathy.
To which Gitlin adds:
I am not blind to the satisfactions of vengeance. For obvious reasons, Bush and Cheney deserve impeachment in inverse order. But these common-sensical words immediately suggest the problem: In the real world, no political move–however symbolically beautiful, however just in intent–is without cost.
As Tomasky wrote, the present Senate is not going to convict. So the victory of any hypothetical impeachment would be Pyrrhic at best.
More could be added to Gitlin and Tomasky’s sobering arguments, including Ruy Teixeira’s point that impeachment would drain energies that could be more profitably applied to building a working Democratic majority.
All of which makes perfect sense — for now. The problem is that Bush and Cheney are so utterly devoid of integrity and respect for the Constitution that they may yet do something outrageous enough to make impeachment inevitable — or push Democrats to the brink, where they have to chose between looking like wimps or performing their constitutional duty. Ed Kilgore mentions one such scary scenario, the possibility of a preemptive strike against Iran, in his recent TDS post discussing important “Impeachment Questions.”
Here’s hoping we don’t get to that point. Things are going too well for the Democrats right now to embrace such a risky course of action. If the elephant dung hits the fan, however, the inverse of Gitlin’s aforementioned rule may become operative: political inaction can have a cost as well.