As I See It
The U.S. Constitution provides for impeachment of a president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” by the House of Representatives, and removal from office upon conviction by the Senate. A two-thirds vote in the Senate is required for conviction. Two presidents have been impeached. In both cases, it was primarily for political reasons, and both were acquitted by the Senate.The first was Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat who was nominated as President Lincoln’s vice president in 1864 to help reunite the country when the Civil War ended. Johnson became president upon Lincoln’s assassination, and enraged Congress when he pursued a lenient policy toward the South. In 1868 the Republican House filed impeachment charges challenging Johnson’s removal of the Secretary of War without notifying Congress. He was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.In 1998 Democratic President Bill Clinton was impeached by a Republican House, charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with an attempted cover-up of a sexual relationship with a former White House intern. The Senate could muster no more than 50 votes for conviction, so Clinton was acquitted.A Democratic House was in the process of filing impeachment charges against Republican Richard Nixon in 1974 for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress in connection with the Watergate burglary of the Democratic campaign headquarters. Realizing that conviction was certain, Nixon resigned.Then we come to the following actions of President Bush and his cohorts Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz:-Distorting evidence of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons and rocket delivery capability, disregarding and denying reports to the contrary.-Lying to Congress, the American people and the world about ties between al-Qaida and Iraq which did not exist.-Falsely implying that Iraq was involved in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.-Using the above fabrications to justify putting the United States into an illegal pre-emptive war whose aftermath is now taking a toll of 1 to 3 American lives each day and 50 seriously wounded per day.-Destroying our country’s image and credibility around the world.-Arrogantly poking a finger in the eye of the United Nations, and in their zeal to attack Iraq, ignoring the advice and admonitions of other countries.-Expanding the scope of terrorism and the number and commitment of terrorists, thereby increasing the threat to homeland security.-Spending scores of billions of dollars to rebuild the damage the war created in Iraq, while neglecting the needs here in the United States and mortgaging our country’s future to pay for it all.-Grossly underestimating the chaos in Iraq following our invasion, and the duration and cost of our occupation, in order to sell the rash adventure to Congress and the American public.Was President Clinton’s cover-up of a sexual escapade, which cost the country nothing more than the legal cat-and-mouse game, a high crime and misdemeanor worthy of impeachment, while the long list of President Bush’s actions which have resulted in so much damage to our country is not? Give me a break!The framers of the Constitution included the impeachment process to make the president accountable for his actions, but history shows that the majority party in Congress does not impeach one of its own. Therefore it is up to the American voters to take the matter into their hands in the next national election, which is only a little more than a year away.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday.
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