The Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has resigned for being a longtime customer of a high-priced prostitution ring.
The President of the United States, George W. Bush, remains, disgracing his office for longtime repeated violations of the Constitution, federal laws and international treaties to which the U.S. is a solemn signatory.
In his forthright resignation statement, Eliot Spitzer-the prominent corporate crime buster-asserted that “Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself.”
In a recent speech to a partisan Republican fund-raising audience, George W. Bush fictionalized his Iraq war exploits and other related actions, and said that next January he will leave office “with his head held high.”
Eliot Spitzer violated certain laws regarding prostitution and transferring of money through banks-though the latter was disputed by some legal experts-and for such moral turpitude emotionally harmed himself, his family and his friends.
George W. Bush violated federal laws against torture, against spying on Americans without judicial approval, against due process of law and habeas corpus in arresting Americans without charges, imprisoning them and limited their access to attorneys. He committed a massive war of aggression violating again and again treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, federal statutes and the Constitution.
This war and its associated actions have cost the lives of one million Iraqis, over 4000 Americans, caused hundreds of thousands of serious injuries and diseases related to the destruction of Iraq’s public health facilities.
From the moment the news emerged about Spitzer’s sexual frolics the calls came for his immediate resignation. They came from the pundits and editorialists; they came from Republicans and they started coming from his fellow Democrats in the Assembly.
Speaker Sheldon Silver told Spitzer that many Democrats in the Assembly would abandon him in any impeachment vote.
George W. Bush is a recidivist war criminal and chronic violator of so many laws that the Center for Constitutional Rights has clustered them into five major impeachable “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” (under Article II, section .4)
Scores of leaders of the bar, including Michael Greco, former president of the American Bar Association, and legal scholars and former Congressional lawmakers have decried his laceration of the rule of law and his frequent declarations that signify that he believes he is above the law.
Many retired high military officers, diplomats and security officials have openly opposed his costly militaristic disasters.
Only Cong. Dennis Kucinich (Dem. Ohio) has publicly called for his impeachment.
No other member of Congress has moved toward his impeachment. To the contrary, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Dem. Calif.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (Dem. MD) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, John Conyers publicly took “impeachment off the table” in 2006.
When Senator Russ Feingold (Dem. Wisc.) introduced a Resolution to merely censure George W. Bush for his clear, repeated violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-a felony-his fellow Democrats looked the other way and ignored him.
Eliot Spitzer came under the rule of law and paid the price with his governorship and perhaps may face criminal charges.
George W. Bush is effectively immune from federal criminal and civil laws because no American has standing to sue him and the Attorney General, who does, is his handpicked cabinet member.
Moreover, the courts have consistently refused to take cases involving the conduct of foreign and military policy by the president and the Vice President regardless of the seriousness of the violation. The courts pronounce such disputes as “political” and say they have to be worked out by the Congress-ie. mainly the impeachment authority.
Meanwhile, the American people have no authority to challenge these governmental crimes, which are committed in their name, and are rendered defenseless except for elections, which the two Party duopoly has rigged, commercialized, and trivialized. Even in this electoral arena, a collective vote of ouster of the incumbents does not bring public officials to justice, just to another position usually in the high paying corporate world.
So, on January 21, 2009, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will be fugitives from justice without any Sheriffs, prosecutors or courts willing to uphold the rule of law.
What are the lessons from the differential treatment of a public official who consorts with prostitutes, without affecting his public policies, and a President who behaves like King George III did in 1776 and commits the exact kinds of multiple violations that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other founders of our Republic envisioned for invoking the impeachment provision of their carefully crafted checks and balances in the Constitution?
Well let’s see.
First, Bush and Cheney are advised not to travel to Brattleboro or Marlboro Vermont, two New England towns whose voters, in their frustrated outrage, passed non-binding articles instructing town officials to arrest them inside their jurisdictions.
Second, George W. Bush better not go to some men’s room at an airport and tap the shoe of the fellow in the next stall. While one Senator barely survived that charge, for the President it would mean a massive public demand for his resignation.
We certainly can do better as a country of laws, not men.
RALPH NADER is the author of The Seventeen Traditions