dimanche, mai 13, 2007

"Under our Constitution, impeachment of the President is a grave and momentous step. The Framers explicitly reserved that step for high crimes and misdemeanors in the exercise of executive power. Impeachment for anything else would, according to James Madison, leave the President to serve "during pleasure of the Senate," thereby mangling the system of checks and balances that is our chief safeguard against abuses of public power..."Excerpt from a petition signed by 402 historians

Some of the most famous and well respected historians in the United States (Sean Wilentz, C. Vann Woodward, John Hope Franklin) signed this passionate and scholarly plea that the Constitution be respected and that impeachment not become a cat's toy in Congress. My dad was one of the signatories. The President was not, of course, George W. Bush, 43. It was his predecessor, William Jefferson Clinton.

High crimes and misdemeanours? If there is a continuum of crime, George is further along the scale than the brilliant but often adolescent Bill. Surely a President who led a nation into a war that has torn apart the country he hoped to "save" and has allowed his friends and colleagues to abuse power again and again deserves to be held to some standard of accountability.

I am still not sure, however, that George Bush's criminal stupdity and messianism qualify as "high crimes and misdemeanours." On the other hand, we don't want to make the standard so high that no one can be impeached. Of the venerable historians who created this document, several are dead. To the living-we await another teachable moment, gentlemen and ladies.

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