Last night we heard the President of the United States declare that he would refuse to allow US troops to come home from Iraq until they achieved “success” as he and only he defined success. “Return on success,” he told the troops, adding that “the more successful we are, the more can come home.”
Mr. Bush also called for Congress and the American people to unite behind his polices. He did not ask for their guidance, nor offer to work out a united policy in genuine consultations with both parties. His approach was unilateral, as it has always has been.
What should Congress do with a President that defiantly tells the nation that he will hold over 100,000 soldiers hostage unless they achieve a “success” that is essentially undefined and likely unachievable? Has Congress so limited its constitutional role that there is nothing more to do but send the hostages more weapons and rations and tend to their wounds and their families?
How should Congress respond to a President who, while giving lip service to the hope for national unity behind his fantasies, holds them in contempt, ignores their concerns and the disapproval of a large majority of the American people? What do such feigned hopes for unity mean when coming from a President who simultaneously announces a unilateral decision to commit the United States to permanent bases and a permanent “special relationship” with a country we invaded but which he now declares to be our “ally” and whose “success” he unilaterally declares to be in America’s strategic interests? What will they do when he expands his covert war against Iran into overt attacks, inviting unknown reprisals and consequences for the troops he holds hostage in Iraq?
In commentary following the President’s speech, MSNBC’s pundits discussed how, in insisting on his unilateral view of success, the President plans to saddle the next Administration with the problems he and Dick Cheney created and repeatedly exacerbated. Following a lamentable performance by Joe Biden, the pundits described the Democrats as angry, depressed, but also defeated, unable to stop this, because they are unwilling to deny the funding or risk a confrontation with the worst, most reckless and lawless President in our history. Chris Matthews noted that George Bush has now proved his critics right. Before the war, they argued that we should not go in, because we will never be able to get out. Are the pundits right?
No one mentioned that impeachment is and always has been the logical and necessary remedy for an out of control President. Holding US troops hostage to an impossible, ill-defined mission, causing the unnecessary deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands more, surely qualifies as an impeachable offense.
Almost no one believes impeachment would be successful in removing the regime from office; but we cannot see that future with certainty. And I’ve never believed that was the only point. The effort itself would be worthwhile; it might cause the regime to modify its policies, though that seems unlikely now with this regime, if only because Congress refuses to take its prerogatives seriously. But even if the effort fell short, it would reflect well on those who tried; it would give their followers a worthwhile cause; it would educate Americans on what is at stake and define who stands for the Constitution, and who does not. It would frame the next election on the issues most vital to the nation. Why should we shrink from that battle?
Whatever the outcome, the effort could also help preserve and encourage the impeachment remedy’s future use by those who follow and may need this cure again. Preserving the efficacy of impeachment is important in itself. Ignoring impeachable offenses and doing nothing are inexcusable.
To the angry, frustrated Democrats I say: You have nothing left to lose except the Constitution and respect, ours and your own. Stop whining. Use it, or shut up.