Impeach Bush to save the economy?

One newspaper columnist proposes a truly silly idea -- begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush now, in the belief this would actually help the economy.

By Alex Koppelman
Published November 26, 2008 5:30AM (UTC)
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On a daily basis, I read a lot of silly things on the Internet -- comes with the job. But it's rare that I ever encounter anything as absurd as the latest column by the Detroit Free Press' Rochelle Riley, which is headlined "For economy's sake, Pelosi needs to push for impeachment now."

In fairness to Riley, the headline probably isn't hers. Still, the sentiment it expresses sure seems to be, as she writes:

If Congress moves quickly and forces the president to focus on impeachment, then he won't have so much time to push through last-minute regulatory changes that will continue to hurt our country and our ideals. He already has pushed deregulation that would allow employers to talk directly with employees' doctors and allow power companies to build polluting facilities close to national parks.

Anyone worried that our congressional representatives can't tie their shoes and chew gum at the same time, or cannot focus on the economic crisis and impeachment hearings at the same time, will find that many answers to our economic and global defense problems will come from those hearings.

The only question I have for Nancy Pelosi is this: What are we waiting for?

There are so many things wrong about this that it's hard to know where to begin.

First of all, the idea that this could work is ridiculous. Bush has less than two months left in office, and Congress won't be in session for much of that time. They don't have enough time to impeach him and remove him from office. (Riley's column seems to be just about impeachment, which is akin to indictment, not conviction. But at points during it -- notably when discussing impeachment to prevent pre-emptive pardons of administration officials -- she seems to be writing about removal as well, as only that, not mere impeachment, would prevent such pardons. It's a muddle.) And if they did somehow manage to remove him, then Vice President Dick Cheney gets to play president for a day or so.

Also, Riley contends that if Congress "forces the president to focus on impeachment, then he won't have so much time to push through last-minute regulatory changes." Really? Raise your hand if you think Bush himself is writing those regulatory changes, or even knows much about them. Anyone? Bueller? And, of course, even without Riley's brilliant gambit, Barack Obama could undo most of these regulatory changes upon taking office. Granted, not all, but most.

Speaking of Obama, let's remember that he opposes impeachment -- and that he wants a new stimulus package on his desk on Inauguration Day, which is January 20th. The new Congress will only have been in session for two weeks by then, and the current Congress is likely to spend its last week or so after Thanksgiving dealing with the mess in Detroit. Neither of those two things can happen if impeachment's going on at the same time.

And let's not even get into the kind of havoc impeachment is likely to wreak on the markets, not to mention that, by effectively freezing the transition out of the news, it would destroy all the confidence Obama has managed to inject with his recent announcements about his economic plans and the team he's putting in place.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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