Saturday, November 11, 2006

Partisan Playground

Three days after the elections I get an email calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. It sounded a lot like playground politics. "You impeached our president so now that we are in control of congress we will impeach yours." I thought it was typical of staunch partisans that they would exaggerate their position from the outset. The email started with:

"On Election Day, the American people voted overwhelmingly for change." (emphasis mine)

I wonder about the threshold they use for "overwhelming." The fact is that if every race that remains undecided were to fall to the Democrats there would be 42 seats that changed hands in the House and the Senate combined. That is only 8% of the 535 seats in Congress. Only 6% of the Senate changed and 10% of the House. That sounds like a vote for change, but not an overwhelming vote for change. In fact, 25% of the seats that changed were still in doubt after 24 hours. (All the numbers I am using assume that every seat still in doubt goes blue.) To make this vote less overwhelming, the talk now is how the incoming Democrat representative are pragmatic and populist more than liberal. We really don't know what to expect from this new Democrat controlled congress. See Update

I visited the forum where the email originated and found more level-headed thought being expressed. Things along the lines of, "President Bush deserves to be impeached, but it won't accomplish anything positive in the country, so don't bother."

Nancy Pelosi, likely the next Speaker of the House, has indicated that she will not pursue impeachment. Level-headed people from across the political spectrum will agree with her that impeachment is not a good course of action for the country at this time. The partisan impeachment proceedings against President Clinton should serve as proof of why we should not go down that road right now. At least when the Republican congress impeached Clinton they could be forgiven for having no memory of the last time we had an impeachment. This Democratic congress has no such excuse.

I looked around the forum site and they had a poll for people to vote on what they would like to see happen in the first 100 days of the new congress. They categorized the various suggestions. I discovered an interesting trend as I read the options. I found that I agreed or disagreed with them on a category by category basis.

  • Constitution & Courts
    • I disagree heartily with almost every option
    • I especially disagree with the constitutional amendments they propose
  • Economy, Business, Labor
    • I agree with some of the options
    • I am undecided on some of the options
    • I disagree with a couple of the options
  • Elections
    • I agree with almost all the options
    • I disagree with one option and think a couple of options are redundant
  • Energy & Environment
    • I am undecided on the majority of the options
  • Foreign & Military Policy
    • Many of the options sound like vague ideals rather than solid plans
    • I agree with their positions on torture
  • Government & Congress
    • I agree with most of the options
  • Investigations
    • Lots of redundancy related to the Iraq war
    • Many of the options sound like they are living in the past
  • Media
    • Sounds like a bunch of ways to expand government
  • Social Policy
    • Sounds exactly like the Democratic party line

This got me wondering what kind of people were running the forum. The answer came in a different poll they had. This one asked who they would vote for in 2008 for president. The answer was overwhelmingly Al Gore. He got more than 1/3 of the votes with 13 candidates in the poll. Hilary Clinton (supposedly the front runner) was not even in second place on this poll, she got less than 1/8 of the votes. So these are Gore Democrats. This is nothing against Al Gore, he merely represents one faction of the Democratic party. The question is, what do the Pelosi Democrats think, or what do the Dean Democrats (the official party leadership) think? Lest anyone see this as bias, Republican factions include the McCain Republicans, Frist Republicans, and Mehlman Republicans.

UPDATE 11/14: I just found confirmation of what I had said about how overwhelming this vote for change was.

The scale of this loss was on par with the post-war average for such elections: close to 30 House seats versus the average of 32, and likely six Senate seats compared to the average of eight.

In elections during which the president’s popularity was low because of war, scandal or recession, however, the average is 47 House seats and eight Senate seats.

This "overwhelming vote for change" was about average, if not a little below average for the current situation.


Causal said...

Impeachment is a nonpartisan issue. It's not about Clinton, Lincoln, or any other president. Some previous impeachment attempts were considered a waste of time because they were pursued for things that didn't rise to the level of a Constitutional crisis (Which is what the Impeachment tool is mean to be used for). The argument that we can't impeach Bush because there are previous presidents who also did bad things is the same as the argument from your child that you shouldn't punish him because the neighbor's kid did the same thing and didn't get punished. We don't want a presidential rush to the lowest common denominator. We have a duty to hold THIS president to the Constitution.

Sometimes reprimanding a child (President) doesn't make the family (Washington) a happy place. But you still have to do it so the child and his siblings (future presidents) learns about accountability. Holding government officials accountable for their actions strengthens our democracy. Letting lawlessness stand weakens it.
Impeach Bush Yourself...

David said...

I appreciate your logic, but I want to address a couple of points. First, I did not say that we can't impeach Bush, I said we shouldn't. Second, I thought that the Clinton impeachment was a waste of time specifically because it was not a constitutional crisis. That is the same reason that I don't want Bush to be impeached - at least not before someone shows me a crisis. So far I just see a poor administration - especially where public opinion is concerned.

You claim that impeachment is a nonpartisan issue, but using the impeachment tool to address non-crisis issues turns impeachment into a partisan issue. Can anyone dispute that the Clinton impeachment was very much a partisan action?