In the past weeks, even the most ardent Democratic partisans have come to condemn Congressional Democrats for their lack of will, in confronting Bush and the Republicans: the war, domestic spying, torture, the absurd MoveOn resolution, the dangerous Iran resolution- we’re all baffled and discouraged and heartbroken, and many of us are just plain pissed off. Those of us who still intend to work for the election of Democrats, next year, find it increasingly difficult to convince those who have been straying that they should remain in the fold. We continue to insist that we need larger Congressional majorities, the executive branch, and if nothing else- and this ought to convince even the most recusant- to prevent four more years of Republican judges. But we cannot pretend that we don’t feel betrayed. We cannot pretend that we are having trouble answering the question: why? We are not using our majority power, and we are not using all the legislative and procedural tools we have available. Why?
Some say the Democrats are willfully complicit- beholden to the same nefarious interests as are the Republicans. I disagree. To me, it all comes back to impeachment. It comes back to the lack of will to make the ultimate and necessary confrontation. It comes from allowing a criminal administration to remain in power, and thus conferring on it a legitimacy that its criminality should have long ago voided. It comes from establishing a precedent and a dynamic that say the Bush Administration can push all boundaries, and the Democrats will not push back. If impeachment is off the table, then every form of criminality is on it!
Let me state, at the outset, that I do think the window for impeachment likely has closed. Barring some new bombshell revelation, there is likely neither the will in Congress to even start proceedings, nor the time for such proceedings to produce fair results. I come neither to praise nor bury impeachment. I come to discuss what I deem to be the consequence of its not having been pursued: a paralysis in the Democrats that renders them incapable of confronting Bush on anything.
If we were lied into the war, then being unwilling to hold the Administration accountable for those lies makes it impossible to accept the necessity of ending what should never have been started. If domestic spying is a Constitutional crime, then being unwilling to hold the Administration accountable for that crime necessitates the further Constitutional outrage of attempting to legislatively make such crimes legal. If torture is a crime against humanity, then being unwilling to hold the Administration accountable for that crime gives it tacit permission to violate pretty much any legal or moral standard. Oversight and subpoenas are irrelevant, because there are no consequences to what is discovered, and subpoenas can be, and are being, ignored. Despite being as unpopular as any “president,” ever, Bush knows he can just thumb his nose at the Democrats, and they will do nothing. They are incapable even of sound and fury.