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Thursday, June 28, 2007
(11:14 AM) | Stephen:
Constitutional Showdowns And The Future Of American Politics

Bush has rejected Congressional subpoenas for documents related to the US Attorney purge. It's not surprising, of course. Also expected is the characterization of this as preparing for a "Constitutional showdown." This phrase is suffering now from overuse, as Bush has apparently forced "Constitutional showdowns" with his authorization of torture, suspension of habeas corpus, egregious signing statements that contradict the law to which they are appended - 600 of those and counting - and just about everything else he and Dick Cheney have done or authorized since taking office.

The question I keep asking in different fora is what, exactly, will Congress do about it? This isn't a sarcastic question, or one that calls into doubt the Democrats' willingness or ability to reassert the authority of the Constitution over a rogue President bent upon tyrannical rule. When the proper perspective is taken, we can see that the Democratic majority, with all its shortcomings, has accomplished quite a bit, more even than we expected when the election results started to come in last November. Pernicious elements of laws, such as the buried little amendment to the Patriot Act renewal that allows Bush to appoint interim US Attorneys without Senate confirmation, would have been hidden by the GOP-led Congress. The US Attorney scandal itself would have no Congressional action or play in the press without the Democratic majority. Habeas corpus would still be totally dead, with nary a peep out of anyone other than "fringe" liberals if not for the Democratic control of Congress.

But the Democrats simply do not have the votes to take any serious action against Bush. That's what is usually missing from discussions about the possibility of impeaching Bush and Cheney. The Democrats cannot actually impeach either of them, because the GOP is still in complete lockstep with the Bush/Cheney regime no matter how hard they try to deceive us with speeches from the House or Senate floor decrying some administration action or policy. Aside from any other political consideration, the most damage that would accrue to the Democratic party from an attempt to bring Bush/Cheney to much-deserved justice would be from the inevitable failure to meet that goal.

Of course we could also expect AM Radio, newspapers, Fox News, much of CNN, books and magazines to explode into uncontrollable rage at the thought - the utter gall! - of impeaching a president for things as silly as lying or what-have-you. That's been the reaction to the Scooter Libby verdict: how dare anyone try to prosecute someone for such a silly thing as lying during a Federal investigation! The hypocrisy of the DC media is as startling as it is insulated from the majority of Americans, though such brazen disregard for little matters such as facts and the rule of law is starting to come through their carefully constructed rhetorical shields.

Even the GOP base is starting to see the hypocrisy, though it's because the DC media and political establishment is not sufficiently aghast at the brown hordes streaming across our southern borders in order to take advantage of Social Security, Medicare and free acute care at emergency rooms - apparently they break their legs and arms on purpose or something so they can partake of that delicious, filling emergency room. . .well, not food, exactly, but I suppose the attention and really comfortable beds. Actually, I have no idea why people think that illegal immigrants come to the USA to sign up for welfare; our welfare benefits suck. Even if they are better than Mexico's, anyone living in the US has to pay US prices for things, and our various welfare programs simply aren't up to the task of giving people a comfortable life.

The end result, though, is that even the hard-core base of the GOP, the inhabitants of that alternate world described and maintained by the vast right-wing media empire is starting to see that Trent Lott, John McCain and even George Bush himself simply don't care about them. They don't care what they want, they don't care what they think. These GOP dead-enders are finally starting to see that they are and have been nothing more than dupes, pawns, tools and fools to be used and discarded, over and over. The campaign rhetoric never changes and neither does the disparity between that and the way the GOP governs.

The conservative movement in the USA is completely bankrupt intellectually and morally. No conservative politician actually wants to shrink the size of the government. Even Grover Norquist never complains about the size of the government under GOP Presidents and Congresses. And the last 6 years have made it abundantly clear that GOP tax cuts are not intended for conservatives who put Bush in power. If you depend upon your next paycheck, or your next year's salary in order to maintain your lifestyle, the GOP leadership doesn't care if you live or die, and that fact is finally starting to break through the decades of intellectual programming to which conservatives in this country have willingly submitted themselves.

Perhaps the truth will really break through to everyone, even the 30% that persists in supporting the most corrupt, lawless, warmongering and murderous group of vile scumbags to ever sully the White House with their presence. Maybe there will be a true conservative movement, one that actually cares about the rhetoric we've been hearing for so long. I would welcome that. Despite what David Broder thinks, we need to be able to have spirited debate about politics, because politics is no game. Politics matters. Politics is about war and peace, about security and safety, about a nation's infrastructure and economy, the ability of a nation to feed itself, educate its citizens. Politics is literally about life and death.

Or it should be. What we have now is a Democratic party that is being taught this lesson by its progressive base and which is actually listening. Democratic politicians that use their power to enrich themselves and play games are finding surprisingly strong primary challenges, and that will not stop. On the other side of the aisle, we have a Republican party that shows no likelihood of repentance. That can only change if the people who belong to that party, who count themselves as conservatives, rise up and make them pay electorally.

My fear is that the movement is not up to the task. I'd love to be proved wrong.

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