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Unchecked Executive Power

A Winning Argument for Impeachment

by DAVE LINDORFF

It’s becoming clear to me that for people on the left, just about everything this president has done is considered impeachable–a sentiment I share.

But it’s hard to convince many more conservative people that the president should be tossed out because he lied about the war (they’ll argue that he believed the cooked evidence), or because he has authorized torture or started a war of choice (9-11 and all that).

It’s equally hard to get conservatives worked up about the NSA spying, which they’ll say is needed to go after terrorists. Never mind that the NSA would have no problem getting a court okay to do that, so clearly the spying is for something much more unsavory, like hunting down government leakers who are embarrassing the government, or spying on the so-called "opposition" party, or anti-war activists.

But I find one argument to be very compelling for conservatives of almost all stripes, and that’s Bush’s overturning or revoking or ignoring of over 750 acts passed by Congress during his two terms of office.

When I point out to these people that if Bush is allowed to invalidate acts of Congress with the stroke of a pen with a claim that he has special powers in his self-defined role as Commander in Chief, then the next president, who could well be a Democrat-indeed who could be (gasp!) Al Gore, John Kerry or, god forbid, that arch-demon of the conservative firmament, Hillary Clinton, they suddenly sit up and pay attention.

Here is an unimpeachable impeachment argument to try on your rabid right Uncle Fred at the next family picnic. Trust me, it works wonderfully.

The odd thing is it doesn’t seem to work on the lame-o’s in the Democratic Party leadership. They’re still running from impeachment as fast as they can, claiming that the public doesn’t want "all that divisiveness." They’re saying, like House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, that Democrats need to focus on their "agenda," whatever that is.

But what I want to know is this: Let’s just suppose that somehow the Democrats manage to win the 15 additional seats that they need in order to take over the House in November. Let’s say they do even better than expected, and pick up a health majority of 25-30 seats. Now, supposedly, they would be able to pursue that liberal (are we allowed to say that?) agenda. So they would pass bills maybe banning oil exploration on the Alaskan north slope, make Medicare drugs cheaper, legalize stem cell research and maybe slap mileage mandates on cars.

And the president would issue signing orders setting those acts aside or gutting their main provisions, as he has done with torture bans, the establishment of an independent inspector to examine corruption, and numerous other congressionally passed measures.

In other words, as long as this president, with his delusional view of executive power, it won’t matter if the Democrats take the House or both houses of Congress. He must be removed from office.

The president must be impeached for rank and blatant abuse of power in subverting the very basis of the republic. The Founders envisioned a tripartite government in which Congress, elected directly by the people, legislates, and the President implements. This president has decided that he can assume the power to legislate, too, by deciding which laws, or portions of laws, passed by Congress, he will implement.

No nation where a leader claims and is allowed to exercise that kind of power can call itself democratic.

No party that allows such a usurpation to go unchallenged can call itself an opposition.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book, "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is due out May 1.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com