Banta Singh was on his first visit to the city. As it happened, it was the day of the marathon.
Seeing hundreds of runners pass by, he asked his city cousin what was going on.
“They’re in a race”, replied the other, wondering how best to explain a marathon in one sentence.
“Why?” asked Banta Singh.
“Well, the winner gets a gold medal”, the cousin offered.
“Hmmm…”, Banta Singh wondered aloud. “In that case why are the others running?”
It is the kind of ‘pragmatism’ that might land one a slot in the top echelons of the Democratic establishment in Congress these days.
For a whole year, various high-ranking Democratic House and Senate leaders, those running for president included (except Dennis Kucinich), have offered the same answers to several key questions, such as why they are: (1) Not doing anything to stop the war, (2) not doing anything about impeaching Bush and Cheney, (3) not doing anything to halt and reverse the numerous violations of privacy and erosions of rights, and finally (4) not doing anything to halt the wrongs of the Bush administration.
The all-purpose excuse: We don’t have the votes.
If poor George Washington and his tattered cohorts had insisted on a guarantee of success as a precondition for confronting the British, we might all still be speaking English.
If Boris Yeltsin had wanted to be assured of staying in one piece before standing up to a Soviet army tank in the summer of 1991, history would have had no piece of Yeltsin.
It is a good thing that Italian police and prosecutors don’t follow our Congress’s line of reasoning — they would have quit going after Mafia figures long ago, given the low probabilities of conviction.
The Bible has something about the race not being always to the swift, but it does imply that one must at least participate to stand a chance. It speaks of the meek inheriting the earth, but gives no indication that the same applies to the presidency. Even Mitt Romney could tell you this much.
With the Iranian NIE report of today, it is ever more clear that the administration’s deceptions have only grown in scope. If after this Congress still does not take up the call for impeachment, it is itself open to charges of collusion in high crimes against the Republic.
Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment is off the table, stance is not only ridiculous, it is criminal. To leave unchallenged the deliberate misleading of the country to war, (and the effort to do the same a second time), makes her party a knowing accessory to the same misdeeds. Congress has an equal duty to protect the Constitution as the President. Each day of equivocation is one more day steeped in the crimes of the Bush administration.
Moral and ethical arguments aside, even a purely political motive suggests that Democrats must seize the cry of impeachment. Surely, if the Republicans had not made as much of Clinton’s doings and had refrained from the impeachment trial, the 2000 Presidential race would have hardly been a contest; Gore would have won in a landslide.
Dennis Kucinich has made a good, if belated, beginning with his impeachment resolution. But he will get nowhere with his “me, please stance at the debates. He needs to hammer home to the public the enormity of what is taking place. His lacing of all his speeches with some catchphrase-goo about one world and universal immigration does nothing to enhance his seriousness as a candidate: Mike Huckabee had a point when he remarked that Jesus did not seek elected office. Of all candidates, only Ron Paul has managed to combine an evident fealty to the Constitution with a feet-firmly-on-the-ground demeanor. As a proclaimed devotee of the Constitution, Kucinich should remember that that Good Book is silent on matters such as World Peace, Universal Brotherhood, Multiculturalism, etc., and would do well to follow suit. He is running for President of the United States, not Savior of the World.
If the Democrats truly believe Bush and Cheney’s crimes are of a magnitude deserving of impeachment, they can in good conscience speak of nothing else. If they do not, they should be forced to list each wrongdoing and say why they don’t think it is a high crime. To allow that something is a high crime or misdemeanor against the Constitution, and say in the same breath that we must let it slide because we lack the votes, is as egregious an betrayal of Constitutional responsibility as the original crime. It also an insult to the entire nature of our polity as a deliberative enterprise, where exposition, evidence, debate, and persuasion can change minds.
To paraphrase Lincoln’s famous letter to General McClellan, it is time to tell Nancy Pelosi,”If you won’t impeach Bush and Cheney, can we at least impeach you?”
NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.