The impeachment process is broken

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #1
    In the last six years, we've had one president impeached over a single issue of perjury, and another who's getting away with (almost literally) murder, who won't be impeached at all.

    The common thread: one party controls Congress. And that party will use impeachment as a weapon, or ignore it completely, as it fits the party's purpose.

    It's become shatteringly clear that partisanship is so entrenched that the means of disciplining or removing a president are broken.

    Now. We all know that the Republicans are never gonna change the process. But -- purely as an intellectual exercise, if you wish -- can you foresee a way to amend the Constitutional impeachment process in order to make it work as intended again?

    The only way I can think of involves equalizing the number of Republicans and Democrats involved in the process. After all, in a regular jury trial, what prosecutor or defense attorney would settle for a majority of the jury being biased in favor of or against the accused?

    So. One way would be to limit the number of representatives, for example, who could vote on bringing impeachment charges. For instance: under our current breakdown, the House has 231 Republicans and 202 Democrats. "Evening out" the process would require the elimination of 29 Republicans from the deliberation process. You could have the Republicans choose the 29 to be dropped from the impeachment vote, or have Democrats choose them. (The latter would give the opposing party the chance to eliminate those it feels to be the most partisan "jurors".)

    Alternatively, everyone could have a chance to participate in the process, but only 202 on each side of the aisle would be allowed to vote.

    I know, I'm building castles in the sky here...but if the Democrats ever get back into power, they could do worse than to propose a constitutional amendment to this effect. Making things more even could give the Republicans second thoughts about using the threat of impeachment vengefully (as they did with Clinton). It might also make guys like Bush a little more careful, knowing that a Congressional majority no longer "guarantees" that they can't be impeached.
     
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #2
    Just a little historical reminder: Impeachment has been used only twice in American history, both times for causes having little do with the "high crimes and misdemeanors" test in the Constitution. I don't think either episode does the nation credit, except that in both instances, Congress drew back from the brink of removing a president for political purposes. So I am very reluctant to endorse any move to make impeachment easier.

    What we do need is the ability of minority parties in Congress to undertake investigations and hearings without the assent of the majority party. The way the system is structured now, a sitting president's misdeeds can be hidden by a friendly and complicit Congress. Recall, Nixon was brought down not by impeachment, but by a Congressional investigation.
     
  3. tristan macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Conviction requires a 2/3 majority in the senate, which is a major hurdle. I don't see any president ever getting impeached and convicted.

    But did you know that congress has the authority to discipline and expel its members? In theory, the republicans in the house could kick out every single democrat. And they could kick out the liberal supreme court judges too for "bad behavior" whatever that is.
     
  4. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #4
    Bush has not committed any crimes except in the imagination of Michael Moore and his type. Even if there was a democratic majority, Bush would not be impeached.
     
  5. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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  6. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #6

    that is your opinion. but he certainly could for some of the things he has done in office. and that is my opinion.
     
  7. eva01 macrumors 601

    eva01

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    #7
    I go with PlaceofDis on this one.
     
  8. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #8
    Bush is more of a criminal than Clinton ever was. Clinton screwed his intern. Bush screwed the world.
     
  9. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #9
    I don't accept your fact/value dichotomy. Those two positions are not equally valid "opinions." One is right and one is wrong.

    If he's committed crimes, then produce the evidence and get on with the impeachment. If not, then quit accusing people of crimes when you don't have any evidence. And if there is evidence of a crime, then why won't any democrats call for impeachment? I have no doubt they'd do it if given half a chance.
     
  10. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #10
    Clinton lied under oath. He wasn't impeached for having sex with someone half his age in the oval office.

    And I'm not aware that "screwing the world" is against any law. Not that I believe Bush has done anything of the sort.
     
  11. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #11
    If it were that easy, who starts impeachment proceedings?

    Has this incarnation of government showing a willingness to censure itself?

    What happened to the ethics board lately?
     
  12. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #12
    They haven't got even one tenth of a chance, so your math is a bit off.

    Bill Clinton was never convicted of a crime. Do you need a reminder about that? Didn't stop the witch hunt, though, did it?
     
  13. mac-er macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Ever heard of war crimes? Abuse of power? (namely, manipulating intelligence to take the country into war)
     
  14. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #14
    Somebody started a post earlier wondering where all the republicans were around here. This thread is a perfect example of why most of us avoid posting in the political forums.

    1. This thread is nonsense. Not one person of any stature has called for impeachment. Not even Kennedy/Kerry/Boxer/etc... Even they know its just silly.

    2. Anyone posting anything in support of Bush or a conservative is immediately ambushed by multiple Bush-haters who care about little else than the next one-liner they can post about how terrible Bush is.

    3. As you can see above, Bush-supporters or conservatives have to deal with so many non sequitur and ad hominem arguments that any real response ends up being so long, I don't even feel like taking the time to write it.

    We get tired of dealing with people that obviously care little about rational discussion. So that's my theory as to why you don't see more posts from republicans around here. And just to note, this will be the last one you'll see from me in Politics/etc...

    I wish there was a way to ignore a whole subforum here at MR.

    (And please, don't sit there and think its because we can't handle the arguments you're making. We just get tired of sitting here watching you all pat each other on the back with your Bush-hating.)
     
  15. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #15
    Heb, really though, do you think accusing others of doing what you are doing is going to work.

    I mean, it's not like you don't have the opportunity to make your case.

    If you feel that being asked relevant questions about your claims is the same as being ambushed, you may as well just ask that your posts are ignored by all except those who agree with you.

    If that's what you want, so be it. It hardly makes for good forum discussion though.

    Have you been inappropriately addressed by anyone?
     
  16. latergator116 macrumors 68000

    latergator116

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    #16
    Great! You won't be missed by me.
     
  17. Thomas Veil thread starter macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #17
    Ever hear of the Downing Street Memo? The non-existent WMD? Oh -- how about sending our kids off to die for his lies?

    Besides, you don't need to commit a crime to be impeached. Malfeasance, misfeasance or non-feasance are sufficient reasons. (That's where "screwing the world" comes in. ;) )

    With a firm Republican majority, what would be the point?

    How about former attorney general Ramsey Clark?

    Wow. Pot, meet kettle.

    I have to say, of all the people I've discussed this subject with on the internet, you've got the biggest pair of blinders I've ever seen. Even the most diehard Democrats were not blind to Clinton's problems. But you are immediately defensive of everything Bush, no matter how bad.

    Must've been some extra-extra strong Kool-Aid.

    On the subject of other posts above: I acknowledge that changing the impeachment system would be problematical at best. You would, as tristan points out, have to either live with or change that 2/3 majority conviction rule.

    Does anyone see more possibilities in the U.S. adopting some form of the No-Confidence Vote?
     
  18. tristan macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Well its not all about party lines. Don't forget that things can happen pretty quickly in politics. One week you're the leader of your party, the next week they're throwing you over the side of the boat...
     
  19. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #19
    The thing is, the difficulty of impeachment is hailed by some, and for good reason, as a strength of our system of government. Obviously, it makes it more difficult to throw someone out, but it also means that the US government has been remarkably stable for 200+ years (excepting that little snafu around 1860). No confidence votes, which as I understand it only apply to parliamentary systems, mean that it's entirely possible to end up with the extreme like in Latvia (I think it's Latvia), where you basically have to form a new government every year or two, and the constant reshuffling makes it difficult to get anything done.

    And in the end, it's about business. More than wanting Rebupblican leaders or Democrat leaders, businesses want stability and predictability in the rules of the game.
     
  20. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #20
    And more importantly, Bush has done nothing that is impeachable. Partisan politics means that a party will pursue a member of the other party for a crime like lying under oath or a shady business deal or some illegal campaign activity, but neither party will pursue the other one on illegally invading another country or committing war crimes because that would completely validate any and all criticism of the U.S.' leadership role on the international stage. Bush's SEC dealings are the goldmine for his impeachment, not he invasion of Iraq, the torturing of "enemy combatants", or the future bombings of Syria or Iran.
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #21
    Actually, we really don't know. Keep in mind, the Clinton impeachment was a product of six years of intense investigation by a special prosecutor operating with an unlimited budget and an unlimited mandate. It started with a re-investigation of Whitewater, then moved onto every other matter he could possibly grasp onto, including becoming involved in a civil lawsuit which was ultimately dismissed. Considering how remarkably secretive the Bush administration has been, and how many shady things have gone down that we know about, I have little doubt that a special council would have a field day with the Bush White House if similar amounts of time and money were thrown at an investigation.
     
  22. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #22
    In that sense, yeah. And I can't imagine it would take six years to dig up much. But I maintain that the US isn't going to impeach a President over policy decisions. It would have to be over his personal/campaign life.
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    The entire sequence of events starting with Bush's claims about the Iraqi nuclear program in his State of the Union address, following through to the White House campaign to get Joseph Wilson, is pretty large potatoes of a non-personal nature. It bears all of the hallmarks of an intentional, gross deception of the public and congress, compounded by abuse of power not unlike Nixon's enemy's list.

    In fact just last night I heard a commentary on NPR by Daniel Schor reminding us that Nixon was never indicted over the Watergate affair, because in the legal judgment of the time, presidents could not be indicted, so instead he was named as an "unindicted co-conspiritor." He just left that thought hanging in the air, and so will I.
     
  24. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #24
    But that isn't the point. If the US government impeaches the president over an illegal war, it will de facto admit to the world that the war was illegal. We would be responsible for reparations to Iraq, punishment from international bodies, war crimes, and so on. This would never, ever happen. It would end the U.S.' current position in the world. It would justify our removal from the UN Security Council. It would justify the insistence that the US dismantle its global military reach. It would end our superpower status. Not going to happen.
     
  25. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #25
    I don't think it's going to happen either. I was only responding to your statement that Bush hadn't done anything impeachable, which I'm not sure is true. The situation I described isn't really about "illegal war" or anything of the kind really, but specific set of events in which the president misled the public and congress, apparently deliberately. The White House then seems to have abused power to exact revenge against the individual who exposed the deception.
     

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