See, it’s not so hard to say
While we’re observing milestones — this year marks the Current’s 20th anniversary — let’s remember this week in 1998 when the Express-News called for President Bill Clinton’s resignation over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. It seems quaint, the country getting all lathered up over fibbing about fellatio, in light of President Bush’s extensive rap sheet, which includes expanding his presidential powers to near fascist proportions.
Earlier this month, trade magazine Editor and Publisher printed a partial list, compiled by the Associated Press, of 59 U.S. newspapers that called for Clinton to quit in 1998. Many of these papers, including the E-N, asked for Clinton’s resignation before independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr issued his report on September 11, 1998.
| counterpoint |
from the editor
On January 23, 1998, the E-N wrote that if the allegations about Clinton’s sexual dalliances were true, “... Clinton should resign, vacate the White House, and save the good people of this great nation the long ordeal of impeachment.”
In 1998, Bob Richter was acting editorial page editor, subbing for Lynnell Burkett who was on sabbatical. In an e-mail interview, Richter, now the E-N’s public editor, said the paper “didn’t call for outright impeachment because Clinton had not committed an offense that merited his forced removal from office.”
Fast forward eight years. President Bush has committed egregious offenses, but the E-N has been mute on his resignation and his impeachment. “I see no reason to suggest it,” wrote Bruce Davidson, E-N editorial page editor, in an e-mail. “We called for Clinton to resign because he carelessly put his presidency at risk and violated the trust of the American people by preying on a young White House intern and blatantly lying about it ... One can question Bush’s judgments and he has made mistakes, but he hasn’t misused his position for personal gratification.”
The argument for impeaching Bush isn’t based on disagreements over philosophy or policy, but on the Constitution. As detailed in a 3,900-word article in January 30 issue of The Nation, impeachable offenses include presidential abuses of power that endanger the constitutional system. Among those abuses is the degradation of checks and balances, a pillar of American democracy. In five years, Bush has enacted 500 signing statements (more than any president in history), back-door passes allowing him to circumvent Congress and the law. He signed one of those agreements to bypass the McCain amendment, which bans torture of detainees.
“Violated the trust of the American people”: Bush approved the warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, a felonious violation of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act. See also “impaired judgment.”
“Blatantly lying”: Bush used faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction to mislead the country into the Iraqi war. According to the infamous 2002 Downing Street memo, Bush deliberately manipulated the facts to justify going to war to remove Hussein. See also “recklessness.”
“Personal gratification”: Bush’s appointments of sycophants and cronies to positions in his administration, notably Michael Brown to FEMA and unsuccessfully, Harriett Miers to the Supreme Court, cements his power base and furthers his personal gratification.
Bush behaves as though he is above the law, expanding his powers and shrouding his administration in secrecy beyond constitutional boundaries. Bush won’t resign — he wouldn’t even admit to having made a mistake in his first term — so Congress must impeach him. Don’t worry about sparing our great nation the ordeal of impeachment; citizens need to see their emperor — without clothes. •
By Lisa Sorg
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