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Thursday, June 12, 2003
Regarding impeachment, I mentioned the whole Eschaton imbroglio to Rachel last night and she (being just as big a dork as me, no matter what she says) pointed me to Federalist #65:
A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.
So, er, I was right. I just like to reinforce that. Viz:
1) Clinton shouldn't have been impeached because his misconduct was not against society or the public trust, or even particularly political. Indeed, the danger Hamilton notes in the last sentence seems more or less to be what happened to ol' Bill.
2) Bush can't be impeached because the selling of the war has not "agitate[d] the passions of the whole community" or "divide[d] it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused." Maybe it should, but it just hasn't.
The whole discussion was just weird. (Harm sarcastically makes some good points in his post on the subject.) Some of the posters seemed to end up at the conclusion that an impeachable offense is anything that you can get the House to draw up an impeachment for--but since the House would never impeach Bush, doesn't that mean his crimes aren't impeachable?
As I say in my comments below, it's this weird self-destructive impulse by lefties to "get" the Republicans for their political misdeeds under the Clinton administration. ("By being like the Republicans, we can beat the Republicans!") What they forget in their half-hearted quest for revenge, of course, is that the Republicans were able to get away with it because they were working from a very specific position that they had spent years building up. (And they didn't even get away with it all the time--see the government shutdown and the razor-thin margin of victory in 2000.) If we really want to engage in that kind of, as Norquist put it, "date rape," we can, but we'll need to spend a good 10 years doing the groundwork. Personally, I think we could more productively lay the groundwork for something a wee bit more positive, but I'm not heading the DLC, I guess.