Jeremy Rabkin, George Mason University Professor of Law, was one of the Republican, anti-impeachment experts to provide testimony at the Judiciary Committee, "I Can't Believe It's Not Impeachment, Non-impeachment Hearing," on July 25, 2008. Since I'm in support of impeachment and he's not, it might surprise you to learn that I thought he uttered the most important and spot-on statement of all the panelists.
In his opening statement, Rabkin essentially suggested that if George W. Bush was really guilty of intentionally lying the country into war, that was an impeachable offense.
And if that charge were true -- and here's the important part -- then all the other stuff about politicizing the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys, warrantless wiretapping, using signing statements to violate the laws passed by Congress, and so on, were all sideshows. (I've tried to find both video or a free transcript online; C-SPAN moved/removed just the portion that included Rabkin's opening statement.)
The sin of lying the country into war such that 4,100 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died is so heinous that every other charge dilutes this essential point. This one argument, were it valid, would deserve an impeachment hearing all to itself.
Of course, Rabkin thought that anyone who could imagine that Bush or any President could do such a thing was "demented." But that demonstrates that Rabkin lacks imagination.
It also shows that Rabkin doesn't think too highly of the Founding Fathers who designed a government based on suspicion of power. Suspicion is, after all, merely a particular form of imagination. I can only imagine what bad things Rabkin says in private about someone like Lord Acton, who was demented enough to suggest that, "power tends to corrupt."
Instead, Rabkin implicitly trusts politicians who manage to get elected -- despite the fact that a winning politician's electoral success might be due to the fact that he was the best liar in the race.
He also elaborated to the effect that, many wrongs make it somewhat right, later on in the hearings in response to a question from Rep. Lamar Smith. He cited Democrats like Roosevelt, while looking straight at the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee, and Truman and Johnson as examples.
I'm not exaggerating his position one bit here. Fortunately there is a clip available on YouTube that illustrate the accuracy of my characterization of his postion, so you need not take my word for it -- you can watch.
From my point of view, Mr. Rabkin is brilliantly right that focusing on key issues is important. In my political experience, throwing stuff against the wall until something sticks usually means you will just have a mess to clean up, and that mess will probably be your reputation.
Experts in sales and advertising would also tell you that there's one essential point that serves best to close a deal -- a "position" the marketing department calls it. You can make so many good points that none of them emerges as great enough to motivate action. Best to stick with one most compelling sales argument.
Back in June, Dennis Kucinich filed 35 articles of impeachment. They ran the gamut of issues. Not surprisingly, none of them stuck.
But in July, Kucinich came back with just one charge -- lying the nation into war. That got him a hearing in the Judiciary Committee -- the aforementioned, "I Can't Believe It's Not Impeachment, Non-impeachment Hearing."
Unfortunately, even that hearing became a potluck of presidential grievances.
And it seems to me that every time impeachment comes up so many charges are made that the really important points get lost in the shuffle with less valuable claims. Then impeachment itself becomes lost too. Kucinich and Company ought to listen to Rabkin.
Focus. Focus. Focus.
The spotlight should be on how President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice perpetuated a deliberate lie for the purpose of starting an unprovoked war. This scam led to the death of more than 4,000 American soldiers, the wounding of tens of thousands more, the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and a cost of nearly a trillion dollars in taxpayer money.
In another post (hopefully, in the near future), I intend to demonstrate, beyond imagination, in a way that Jeremy Rabkin can understand, if he's an honest man, why someone who suggests that impeachment hearings are warranted is not demented, but thoughtful.
Originally posted at PositiveLiberty.com