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It Depends on the Definition of Clear

May 25, 2006

In Real Clear Politics yesterday, Tom Bevan attacked Jesse Jackson for incoherence in Jackson’s piece in the Chicago Sun-Times on impeachment the day before. Drawing up both Clinton-era acrobatics of logic (the title–”It Depends on The Definition of ‘Impeachment’”) and John Kerry-election 04-era flipflopping, Bevan assails Jackson’s contradictions in calling impeachment a Republican attempt to demonize, but also legally required.

Bevan’s whole piece, which runs three paragraphs, is a tempting failure of logic, while it attempts to point to a failure of logic and coherence in Jackson and the Democrats. Hmm. Let’s untangle this overly nuanced mess.

Bevan starts thus: “[Jackson] spent the first few hundred words screeching about how talk of impeachment is merely a desperate attempt to demonize Democrats by ‘the right-wing noise machine and their spear carriers in the mainstream media.’ According to Jackson, the charge is purely a political ploy to rouse Republicans for the election….”

Bevan continues: “Toward the end of the piece, however, Jackson asserts that Bush has been shredding the Constitution with sweeping claims of executive power and that ‘a Democratic Congress would have a constitutional duty to investigate and challenge the president’s claims.’ Jackson continues, ‘investigating potential high crimes and misdemeanors isn’t partisan. It isn’t about ‘settling scores.’ It’s about protecting the Constitution and preserving the republic and the rule of law.’

Bevan concludes, not surprisingly, “So which is it? Is talk of impeachment just a Republican effort to demonize Democrats and scare voters for this fall’s election, or do Democrats feel investigations are warranted into potential ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ by the President? And if it’s the latter, how on earth can pointing out that fact be considered ‘demonization’?”

Here’s how it breaks down, Tom. Many laws have been broken by the Bush administration. Now their prospects aren’t good. Remember how Bush the dandy war dodger handled Kerry the war hero–Swift Boating him? Well, this is an example of that. Of turning a strength (the emperor is naked and the empire knows it) into a weakness.

If we, and you and I are falling for it, are debating whether Dems want to impeach, should impeach, could impeach, then we can’t be talking about the deficit, the civil war we’ve started in Iraq, the dead soldiers and Iraqi civilians, the homeless and jobless of New Orleans, the plan for health care, education and the thousands of children left behind, the lagging economy, the price of gas and oil, restoring American leadership worldwide, global warming, lack of a Republican plan in any of these areas, etc.

A distraction?

But at the same time there is something called oversight, which the three systems of government are bound to perform on each other. That would be the hypothetical Democratic Congress’s responsibility to restore. Is that not clear enough for you? Republicans are hoping, as usual, to control the timing of the conversation about impeachment. When their time is up, they hope, we’ll all be sick of talking about it. So whose side are you on, the Constitution’s or Tricky Dick C, Karl and George’s?

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