Dear Congressman Nadler: Get in touch with your balls!
Impeachment is being whispered everywhere I go. And, since I live in NYC, Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner are among those who immediately are brought up when the issue comes up. I have several email discussions going about it. I see diaries on Daily Kos about it. And when I got to local Democratic club parties and meetings I hear it brought up.
Here, in progressive Brooklyn it comes down to this question I get asked a hundred times:
Are Anthony Weiner and Jerrold Nadler supporting Yvette Clarke on impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
Oddly, no one asks me about Velasquez and Rangel...or even Towns, who HAS signed on with Clarke.
The bottom line is this: I am being asked several times a day (whether I want it or not!) who in NYC is backing impeachment.
The simple answer is this: Yvette Clarke and Ed Towns are signed on to impeachment. No one else in NYC has so far.
Anthony Weiner has, at an event I attended, denigrated impeachment. Since then I am told by about a dozen people that Weiner has changed his tune and is in favor of impeachment. On Sunday I ran into him at a local party, but I didn't challenge him on the issue. So I am still split between what I personally heard, where he rejected impeachment, and what I am told by others, that he has come around.
But then there is Jerrold Nadler, a Congressional Rep I tend to like alot.
There has been a movement dogging Jerrold Nadler, confronting him on the impeachment issue...even driving him to losing his cool and yelling at people who have then told me about these confrontations. Nadler, who I generally think of as dealing with confrontation well, has been going berserk when confronted on this particular issue.
His reasoning? Since he thinks the Senate would never convict in the event of a House indictment (impeachment), Nadler suggests we drop the whole issue of impeachment.
Remember the Scopes "Monkey Trial?" That watershed moment where the teaching of evolution became possible in public schools contrary to Tennessee's anti-evolution Butler Act? The ACLU defended Scopes in that trial. And you know what? They lost.
Yes...the trial was lost, but the larger issues were won.
Sometimes you have to fight the battle even if you lose because in the LONG RUN the issues brought up in a high profile, well-publicized court case can win the war even if the battle is lost.
Which brings me to impeachment.
Not so long ago I went to a community forum on Iraq which wound up including Impeachment. Three local NYC Congressional Reps showed up: Jerrold Nadler, Anthony Weiner and Yvette Clarke. Of the three, Yvette Clarke was most solidly for withdrawal from Iraq AND impeachment. Weiner and Nadler were more wimpy, with all due respect, on these issues.
Nadler DID have a plan for withdrawal from Iraq which he HAS proposed in Congress and would like to see pushed aggressively. I give him full credit for having proposed one of the best withdrawal proposals to date and really wish Congress kept sending Nadler's proposal to Bush. Nadler's proposal for Iraq was among the best worded and conceived of any proposed to date. So I am very open, in general, to Nadler's approach.
But then we come to his view on impeachment, which is, in essence, one of utter fear. Yes, Nadler, who is no wimp, is afraid of impeachment. Nadler, who should know better, is intimidated by the Republicans into abandoning the Constitution. That is the only explanation that makes logical sense, even though I don't like it!
President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney stand accused of violating the Constitution, a SERIOUS crime which in many ways threatens our nation far, FAR more than the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Much was lost in the 9/11 attacks. I knew people who died that day. But our nation was never seriously threatened. The alleged Constitutional crimes of Bush and Cheney DO threaten the very foundations of our Democracy. These two stand accused of high crimes and misdemeanors that threaten the long term stability of our democracy. They stand accused of crimes that are ate about as un-American as you can possibly get. And yet Congress is AFRAID of challenging their anti-American activities.
It is imperative that such crimes against the American Constitution are seriously and carefully investigated. If the executive branch of our government violates the Constitution and is never held accountable in ANY manner, then our Constitution ceases to be enforceable.
That is the situation we have now. Bush and Cheney stand accused of high crimes and misdemeanors, violating the most fundamental document that our nation was founded on, and yet the only institution delegated to hold them accountable, the House of Representatives, is too afraid to stand up for our Constitution and our democracy. This is a major crisis that is a greater threat than terrorism.
If someone threatens the very legal basis of America, we should NEVER allow fear to prevent us for standing up for America.
Jerrold Nadler argues that even if impeachment by the House of Representatives (which is the equivalent of an indictment) succeeds, a conviction (the equivalent of a trial) in the Senate is unlikely. Furthermore, Nadler is afraid (and fear is what the Republicans count on) that such a situation would hurt the Democrats in upcoming elections. This places the question of legality and Constitutionality off to the side, pushing it aside for political strategies and tactics. The very question of whether a crime has been committed and whether our Constitution, our most fundamental law, was violated, become secondary to partisan politics the way Nadler views it. I understand his strategic calculations. But I feel he is dead wrong. Absolutely dead wrong. The viability of our democratic system is more important than such strategic calculations. AND Nadler needs to realize that impeachment SHOULD be popular, if presented intelligently.
First off, the crimes committed by the Bush and Cheney administration are unpopular. Investigation of them will only reveal further dirt that will further indict the Republican Party as anti-American in that they have sacrificed our freedoms, our Constitution, our rights on the alter of utter fear.
Second, investigating these crimes, whether or not a conviction is achieved, will air the very issues that are most fundamental to our nation AND to the Democratic victory in 2006. The issues of corruption, abuse of power and lying to citizens to invade Iraq are the very issues that are at the root of impeachment are at the very root of the Democratic victory in 2006 and beyond. Impeachment will WIN 2008 for us if the Democrats had the balls to do it. DO we have the balls? Nadler says we do not. Is he right?
Third, protecting the Constitution is far MORE fundamental than which party is in charge. Let's face it, we do NOT want even a Democratic President to violate the Constitution. Yet the message being sent by Congress, and Congressman Nadler, is that violating the Constitution is acceptable IF you can frighten people enough. Nadler is telling the world, the nation, the Republican Party that all they have to do is scare everyone enough and then the Constitution can be violated without so much as a complaint from the system of checks and balances that the Founding Fathers set up. I do NOT believe that this is what he intends to be telling us, yet this is a lesson that seems clear from Nadler's statements.
What Nadler is telling me, and I do NOT think he intends to, is that the Constitution is no longer enforceable. The Republicans have rendered the Constitution moot because the system of checks and balances has been negated by political expediency and fear. Fear has become the dominant factor in our political system and the rule of law seems pushed aside by any fear that the Republicans push on us.
Congressman Nadler: THIS IS NOT RIGHT! I believe that Nadler has gone down a path that is not only abandoning our democracy to fear, but is ALSO politically suicidal for the Democrats. I do not believe that Nadler has done this lightly or stupidly. He has done this, I believe, after much thought. But I still think he has made a massive legal and strategic error. I believe that the message Nadler gives us still winds up being that: a.) the Constitution is no longer enforceable, and b.) the Republicans can still call the shots because Democrats are too afraid to stand up to them.
Nadler is not easily scared. Don't underestimate him! He has balls. And he can take difficult stands. He has chosen to avoid this difficult stand, leaving many of us in NYC and the nation very disappointed. If HE can't stand up for checks and balances, the Constitution and democracy, then who can? Well, there are several Congressional Reps (including my own, Yvette Clarke) who ARE standing up for America. But Nadler is not! Is political expediency REALLY more important than the Constitution and our democracy? This is NOT a rhetorical point. This is EXACTLY the question facing those who voted for impeachment of Richard Nixon. And it is PRECISELY the issue that faces our Congressional Reps today.
Remember, that Richard Nixon never came before the Senate. His downfall was due to the threat of impeachment, thanks to extensive hearings, by the House of Representatives. Nadler's approach would have given Nixon a free pass. Nixon would never have seen his own downfall had Nadler called the shots back then. Nadler is better than that. You do NOT sacrifice everything you have ever believed in just because it is difficult.
The ACLU lost the Scopes trial, yet they won the larger war. Evolution became the accepted norm THANKS TO THAT FAILURE. Nixon resigned because of the THREAT of impeachment thanks to the IMPEACHMENT hearings. Without those hearings, Nixon would have never been disgraced despite his crimes. Nadler needs to understand that the HEARINGS that will be part of impeachment are the very thing this nation needs. We need an investigation of the crimes committed, the lies told by the Bush and Cheney administration. We need this investigation and we will not get it until impeachment is initiated. THEN we will get the rule of law, whether or not a conviction is achieved.