Impeachment -- then and now

Now that we've solved the 30-year-old mystery of Deep Throat, it may be an opportune moment to ponder some more current issues involving the man who now sits in the office that Richard Nixon once held.


Tim Grieve
June 1, 2005 3:15AM (UTC)

Now that we've solved the 30-year-old mystery of "Deep Throat," it may be an opportune moment to ponder some more current issues involving the man who now sits in the office that Richard Nixon once held.

George W. Bush hasn't authorized or covered up any two-bit break-ins, at least as far as we know. And if they're still making tapes in the Oval Office, they're probably not quite as colorful as the ones that ultimately forced Nixon to resign. But Bush and his administration are certainly guilty of other offenses, and some of them would seem to rise to the level of what the Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." This should go without saying, but apparently it doesn't: If lying about a blow job is an impeachable offense, then what can be said about telling lies that led a country into war?

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Even before Vanity Fair brought back a flood of Watergate memories this morning, we had our minds on impeachment. Maybe it was the excerpt from John Harris' new Clinton book in the Washington Post this morning. Or maybe it was the Ralph Nader/Kevin Zeese op-ed in the Boston Globe, the one in which they said that revelations about the lead-up to the Iraq war suggest that it's "time to debate the I-word" again."

Whatever it was, we were thinking about impeachment this morning, and when the first rumblings of the W. Mark Felt story broke, we started to ask ourselves: "Where are the 'Deep Throats' of today?" But the thing is, they're there -- and they're not hiding. They go by names like Clarke and Wilson, like O'Neill and Taguba. They've told us some of the stories, connected some of the dots. The Downing Street memo takes us a long way down one trail, but how much further could we go? What would a real investigation, one conducted by an independent prosecutor or a House impeachment committee, tell us about Saddam Hussein's WMDs? What would someone like Colin Powell say under oath? What would we learn about what Bush knew and when he knew it?

We don't pretend to know all the facts about Iraq, but we do know this: If Bill Clinton were still the president, there isn't a Republican in Congress who would say that the facts we do know don't warrant at least some discussion about articles of impeachment. It's not going to happen, of course. The Republicans won't let it, and the American people won't demand it; there's such a weariness now, such an acceptance that the administration misled us into war, that the nation is incapable of working up the outrage that would be needed to embolden the Democrats and overcome the Republicans' partisan opposition. But as the country moves past the final lingering question about the last president driven from office, isn't it time to at least start asking serious questions about this one?

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Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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