An impeachment by the people
George W. Bush has become estranged from the hearts and minds of most Americans, and that makes him the lamest of lame ducks. Consider a CBS News poll released this week in which 33 percent approve of the job he's doing. CNN's latest poll has him at 32. If gas prices keep rising, and if testimonials to Bush's deception regarding every major policy initiative since 2001 keep appearing in books--the latest is from whistle blower Clark Kent Ervin, fired from his post as inspector general of Homeland Security for saying the Homeland is vulnerable--it's easy to imagine Bush's ratings sinking into the 20s.
Already his numbers are among the lowest for any president since Richard Nixon. Compare such numbers to Clinton, who was riding high in the 50s at the time of his impeachment.
Don't look for this Republican Congress to impeach Bush, despite low ratings. Rather, it'll wear this president's crimes and misdemeanors around its own neck, as it now wears the Jack Abramoff scandal, Tom Delay's transgressions and the occupation of Iraq--like so many rancid chickens—or ducks--around a misbehaving dog's neck.
Take a look around. Short of another 9/11, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the president ever again enjoys majority support from his fellow Americans.
This month's cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine features a caricature of Bush sitting in the corner with a dunce cap on beside the query, writ large: “The Worst President in History?” Before you write it off as liberal tomfoolery, consider it's by Sean Wilentz, a prize-winning Princeton historian who cites facts, figures, polls and a broad range of opinion by scholars of all stripes. Consider the poll he cites showing 81 percent of American historians viewed Bush's presidency as a failure as early as 2004—before Katrina, spiking gas prices, the Iran emergency, Congressional scandals, the Dick Cheney hunting fiasco, the Dubai ports deal, and much more.
Leno, Letterman, Stewart and Colbert are having a carnival. Moreover public opinion polls show a majority of Americans favor impeaching the president if he broke the law. For example, in a Zogby poll released in January, 53 percent answered yes when asked the following: "If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment?”
A growing number of towns and municipalities are passing resolutions calling for just that, and legislators have introduced bills in the state houses of Illinois and Vermont calling for impeachment proceedings.
On what grounds? They vary, but singer Neil Young—who endorsed Ronald Reagan for president in 1984--catalogues a pretty good list on his new album, “Living With War,” which contains these lyrics in a melodic and rocking tune, “Let's Impeach the President.”
“Let's impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
He's the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war
Let's impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones…
Let's impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected…"
That list doesn't include torture, lying about global warming, spreading nuclear technology, breaking international treaties, possible involvement in the Plame affair and a dozen other offenses I can document without straining. So the question becomes: Who needs Congress to rubberstamp what we the people have already decided? Up to 68 percent of us have impeached Bush in our hearts and minds, and his major policy initiatives are going nowhere, thank heavens, though so much damage has been done this world may never recover.
All of which makes for a dangerous time. Bush is a known quantity. He's shown us what he's capable of many times and many ways. The question is, as the wolves of history close in, placing his cagey, dependent ego in an ever-shrinking defensive bubble, what might he not now try?