Well, despite Speaker Pelosi’s insistence that impeachment is “off the table”, it’s finally on the table, thanks to courageous Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Recently, it has become increasingly obvious that the question of whether he was going to introduce Articles of Impeachment had become a question of when, not if. And that question was finally answered at a news conference. I suppose it’s no surprise that he timed his announcement to capture the excitement of the nationwide April 28 impeachment action. But there was one interesting surprise.
The target of Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment is Vice President Cheney, not President Bush. This raises some interesting questions. Obviously, one question is “Why Cheney instead of Bush?”. And one answer is the one that has bothered people for six years now. If you impeach Bush, Cheney becomes President.
My answer to that has always been that effectively, Cheney is President now. So impeaching Bush and making Cheney President really doesn’t make things any worse, and you have to start somewhere. On the other hand, I did make a sign for one protest rally that said “Impeach Cheney First!” I just didn’t know Dennis was watching.
As Dennis pointed out in response to a question at his announcement:
Now, with respect to the president. I think that it’s very important that we start with Mr. Cheney. Because if we were to start with the president and pursue articles of impeachment, Mr. Cheney would then become president.
It’s significant and responsible to start in this way, because if the same charges would relate to the president as relate to the vice president, you would then have to go through the constitutional agony of impeaching two presidents consecutively.
So do we instead go through the agony of impeaching first a Vice-President and then a President? Is that really any less agony?
But there’s another interesting angle, as mentioned by a Kucinich aide who compared it to the Nixon-Agnew situation:
Kucinich’s aide compared the current situation to the 1970s, when Congress went after Spiro Agnew first, before setting their sights on Nixon. The difference, the aide said, is that back then “the charges against Agnew were pretty spotty. If Nixon had been as popular as he was in 1972, they wouldn’t have been able to touch Agnew. But in 1974, the conditions were right that they could put some pretty weak charges against Agnew and make them stick.”
The Aide said that “Congress feared that Nixon would then appoint John Connaly of Texas to the VP job, so they held the threat of filibustering any nomination that didn’t meet with their approval.” Take too long to find a good candidate, and Nixon gets impeached and Carl Albert, then Speaker of the House, becomes president. “That’s why Nixon nominated Gerald Ford, who was well-liked in Congress and who would follow Congress’ lead rather than stirring the pot further”. Thus satisfied, the Senate held off the filibuster and approved Ford as Veep, whereupon Nixon stepped down to avoid being prosecuted.
The aide suggested that the same holds true today: remove Cheney first, “since we really don’t want Cheney to be President. So remove him first, and then set your sights on Bush.” If Bush recommends a competent replacement for Cheney, so be it. Get the job into competent hands. If Bush offers yet another toady/Neocon, the Dems can bury the nomination in committee, proceed with Bush’s impeachment, then put Speaker Nancy Pelosi into the presidency after Bush’s conviction.
President Pelosi? Considering how hard she has fought to keep impeachent “off the table”, do you suppose she’d change her mind when presented with a scenario that could make her President?