BY DAN BUSKIRK CONCERNED AMERICAN When President Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s prison sentence on four felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, he waited till the eve of a national holiday, presumably hoping that everybody would go to the beach or the mountains, get drunk and spend most of Thursday grumbling to co-workers about having to come back to work instead of the double standard of justice for rich, white, politically-connected males. But for some of us, the Fourth Of July isn’t just about barbecues, fireworks and bumper-to-bumper traffic — some of us actually take the time to reflect on the wisdom and the bravery of those who dared to face down the British empire and demand the right of the people to rule themselves in this new land.
Living in Philadelphia gives one many opportunities to contemplate the ideas of the Founding Fathers. Independence Hall sits imposingly among the bustling Center City district, and walking along the rough-hewn stone streets you can imagine the weight that Thomas Jefferson must have felt as he declared the colonies forever onward to be ruled by and for the people, not an omnipotent king. Signing one’s name to that Declaration of Independence — clearly a treasonous document in George III’s colonies — must have been a personally frightening experience for the 56 men; think Benjamin Franklin’s “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
But how dare we call these men our Founding Fathers if we fail to live up to the challenge of their sacrifice, if we ourselves don’t do whatever we can to unseat our own King George and his co-conspirator Dick Cheney? What is the proper response to an Executive Branch conducting itself as unanswerable to the rulings of the Judicial branch, the subpoenas of the Legislative branch or the will of the people themselves, who overwhelmingly did not want sentence of the Vice President’s Chief of Staff pardoned or commuted?
According to a report by the House Judiciary Committee prepared in the wake of Watergate, the Founding Fathers wondered about this very issue at the Constitutional Convention. Their answer is one word: Impeachment.
“In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to ‘pardon crimes which were advised by himself’ or, before indictment or conviction, ‘to stop inquiry and prevent detection.’ James Madison responded:
“[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty. . . .
“Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected.”
I know that impeachment has been labeled an indulgent fantasy of the far left, and the Democratic leadership has announced that it is off the table, but this only means it is now the job of the people to change their minds. The crime Libby was convicted of is neither trivial nor peripheral: It went to the heart of this administration’s policy of misleading the country and the world on the justification for this disastrous war in the Middle East.
To allow this investigation to be thwarted by a man who calls himself “The Unitary Executive” is a dangerous precedent that a democratic country cannot allow to stand. Republicans, facing a probable Democratic president in 2008, should recognize their stake in allowing the Executive to make such a power grab as well.
We can’t wait around for Nancy Pelosi or the mainstream media to challenge the powers that be, they’re depending on us to remind them that this is not some petty vengeance we’re asking them to carry out. This is their Constitutional duty, the ultimate balancing power they are entrusted with, designed to answer an administration which denies there is anyone with the authority to check or balance their royal decrees.
Just so nothing I’ve said here seems ambiguous, here’s a list of the numbers to reach your representative. You’ll want to put these on your speed dial. Check back daily this summer and ask about any progress. It’ll be like yoga for your troubled conscience, which is goading you to take control and do something about this mess.
1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 459 – 1887
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437
You’re more of an e-mail person? Here’s some folks who haven’t heard enough of you:
Email your Representatives to Impeach Cheney:
Email your Representatives to Impeach Bush:
Email the House Judiciary Committee to Start Hearings on H.Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment for Vice President Cheney
Join our new Facebook group, The Nationwide Movement to Impeach Cheney and Bush
You’re more creative? How about this:
Youtube Your Rep. and Earn $100:
Like to show up in person? How about this:
Join your local Congressional District Impeachment Committee:
I’m sure there are more ways to get involved, so post anything you know about in the comments section. In your heart you know this should be done. Can it be done? Who would have thought Nixon could have been brought down for his crimes after his landslide re-election in ?72, and if you’ve looked at the President or, God forbid, Dick Cheney’s numbers recently, you’ll see that they don’t have anything like landslide support. Why, just two months ago an InsiderAdvantage poll around found 39 percent of American voters favor the impeachment of both and Cheney, despite the fact that impeachment has been constantly betrayed as impossible, unthinkable and meaningless.
I’m reminded of a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
“You do not do the things you do because others will necessarily join you in the doing of them, nor because they will ultimately prove successful. You do the things you do because the things you are doing are right.”
So this summer, let’s make it a project to impeach the President And the Vice President — an Impeachment Summer, if you will. You know you want to do it, the Founding Fathers want you to do it and future generations of Americas are counting on you to do it. Let’s all get on the right side of history.
WASHINGTON POST: Impeachment For Dummies
GENTLEMEN’S QUARTERLY: The People Vs. Richard Cheney
RELATED: PHILADELPHIA — A Town Hall Meeting entitled “2008 is Too Late! IMPEACHMENT: Why Do It NOW and How To Do It” will be held at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, 19103, on Thursday, July 5, 6 – 9 PM. Nationally known speakers include The Nation Washington Correspondent John Nichols, World Can’t Wait National Coordinator Debra Sweet, Hip Hop Caucus CEO the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Journalist Dave Lindorf, and Blogger Walt Uhler. Anti-war activist Jeff Garis will moderate, including an open discussion between the audience and the speakers.