by Jim Abrams
Associated Press Writer
July 25, 2008
Call it the un-impeachment
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Friday it insisted was
not about removing President Bush from office. But critics of
Bush's policies couldn't pass up the chance to charge the president with a
long list of impeachable "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Leading the way was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the former
Democratic presidential candidate who has brought repeated impeachment
resolutions on the House floor against Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Kucinich got a rock star welcome of whistles, hoots and clapping as he
walked into the hearing room, holding hands with his wife, from hundreds of
anti-war, anti-Bush people crammed into the room and lining the hallways
T-shirts reading "Arrest Bush" and "Veterans for
Impeachment" illustrated the sentiments of many.
"The decision before us is whether to demand
accountability for one of the gravest injustices imaginable," Kucinich
testified, avoiding use of the "I'' word.
The House Democratic leadership, not interested
in a bloody impeachment battle in the last year of Bush's presidency,
steered Kucinich's resolutions to the Judiciary Committee where they could
quietly fade away, but Friday's hearing gave Kucinich and his allies an
opportunity to air their views.
"To the regret of many, this is not an
impeachment hearing," said committee chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.,
pointing out the less incendiary title of the event, "executive power
and its constitutional limitations."
Still, Conyers, a vocal opponent of Bush, noted
that his panel had pursued many issues that Kucinich and others regard as
impeachable offenses: manipulating intelligence about Iraq; misusing
authority with regard to torture, detention and rendition; politicizing the
Justice Department and retaliating against critics, as in the outing of
former CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Republicans, clearly in the minority at the hearing, expressed suspicion at
Democratic motives. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., called it
"impeachment lite," where people were given free rein to impugn Bush but not
to impeach him.
"It seems that we are hosting an anger
management class," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the
committee's senior Republican. "This hearing will not cause us to
impeach the president; it will only serve to impeach Congress's
The committee also reminded lawmakers and those
testifying that House rules prohibit "personal abuse, innuendo or ridicule
of the president." The House Rules and Manual points out that
suggestions of mendacity, or accusations of hypocrisy, demagoguery or
deception were out of order.
"The rules of the House prevent me or any
witness from utilizing familiar terms," Kucinich said. "But we
can put two and two together in our minds."
Former Los Angeles County Prosecutor Vincent
Bugliosi, known for his prosecution of Charles Manson in 1970,
"I am forbidden from accusing him of a
crime, or even any dishonorable conduct" under House rules.
But he could still encourage people to read his
Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., was less circumspect in asserting that
Bush was "the worst president that our nation has ever suffered."
Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., concluded that
"this is the most impeachable administration
in the history of America because of the way that it has clearly
violated the law."
"I am really astonished at the mood in this room," commented one
witness, George Mason University School of Law professor Jeremy
"The tone of these deliberations is slightly demented," Rabkin said.
"You should all remind yourselves that the rest of the country is not
necessarily in this same bubble in which people think it is reasonable
to describe the president as if he were Caligula."