Guest Column: Bush’s dismal record: ‘The Case For Impeachment’

I am writing to endorse Joe Baker’s recent front-page article, which proclaimed that the subject of impeaching President George W. Bush has moved closer to the middle of the American political spectrum than most people would have imagined a few short months ago. (TRRT, March 1-7, 2006) This realization, while slow in coming, is due to the dawning reality of Bush’s dismal and disgraceful performance as President and Commander in Chief. I say this as an independent voter of moderate political persuasion.

The March 2006 issue of Harper’s magazine has a cover page feature, which Baker mentions, written by Lewis H. Lapham, editor. The title of this well-documented essay is: “The Case For Impeachment.”

Lapham begins by describing HR-635, introduced by Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.) on Dec. 18, 2005. The resolution invited the House of Representatives to “form a select committee to investigate the Administration’s intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.” As any alert news follower knows, HR-635 has received scant coverage in the national media—until the Harper’s feature article.

Given the virtual impossibility of a Republican-controlled House taking his proposal seriously, why did Conyers—a seasoned politician—bother to write such a doomed resolution? In Conyers’ own words, “To take away the excuse that we didn’t know.” HR-635 included a 182-page report and 1,022 footnotes, describing “the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq as…a crime against the American people.”

For readers not familiar with this report, the Sunday Times (of London) first published the Downing Street Minutes in May 2005. These minutes provide detailed evidence that British intelligence knew Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and posed no imminent threat—WMD or otherwise—to any country that had a minimal standing army. Readers should recall that Iraq’s connection to 9/11 was a major Bush pretext for invading. Again, according to Lapham, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told Bush “probably in the autumn of 2001 that Britain will join the American military putsch in Iraq, (but) he needs ‘legal justification’ for the maneuver—something noble and inspiring to say to Parliament and the British public.”

What Cheney and Rumsfeld came up with had a “noble and inspiring” half-life of the time it took for people to realize that Bush’s May 1, 2003, “Mission Accomplished” appearance on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln was incredibly arrogant and horribly wrong. Instead of winning any accolades for being noble and inspiring, the Bush strategy for “wrong-footing” (framing) Saddam Hussein will go down in history as the most ignoble Catch-22 gambit in modern history.

Quoting Lapham once again from his footnoted references, “If under the auspices of the United Nations, he (Hussein) can be presented with an ultimatum requiring him to show that Iraq possesses weapons that don’t exist, his refusal to comply can be taken as proof that he does, in fact, possess such weapons.” Got ’cha! In other words, no matter what Saddam did to comply, he was set up to give Bush all the “payback” excuse he needed to take the dictator out for allegedly trying to kill his dad.

Moderates of both parties are finally realizing and acknowledging that extremism breeds excess, that corruption spawns incompetence, and that the Bush administration’s performance is setting new records for all four. I have never called Bush a liar. I have accused him and his cohorts of willfully distorting and exaggerating those things that suited their purpose, but I have always stopped short of calling him a liar—and I don’t intend to start now. I don’t have to. Everyone who saw the recently and very belatedly released videotape footage of Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center, expressing to Bush directly, via a secure teleconference hook-up, “a very, very grave concern” about New Orleans’ levees one day before Katrina made landfall, now knows the unvarnished truth. Bush simply lied when he told Diane Sawyer on Sept. 1, 2005, after Katrina hit, that “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

On May 1, 2003, Bush proudly declared that “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” More than 2,200 brave American men and women in uniform have made the supreme sacrifice since then, fighting a war that even our military commanders acknowledge cannot be won militarily. Bush “broke Iraq,” so now, unfortunately, the American people “own it” until it’s fixed—one way or the other—if ever.

This doesn’t mean that we should allow Bush to continue in his role as Commander in Chief.

W. Harrison Goodenow is a Rockford resident.

From the March 22-28, 2006, issue

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