Before the election, conservatives tried to get some electoral mileage out of attacking prospective House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers. The rumor was that he'd been planning impeachment since the start of the Iraq war. National Review's Byron York pored over Conyers' statements and promised that he'd try to impeach Bush.
If he wins that seat, and he moves toward impeachment — and how could he not, if he believes the president broke not one, not two, not three, but 26 laws and regulations? — observers who haven't been paying attention might express surprise or call such action precipitous. To that, Conyers can answer, correctly, that no one should be surprised.
Be surprised. Conyers has cooled off on the idea; Bush won't be impeached. Jack Lessenberry from Detroit's Metro Times explains why:
Impeachment was off the table. What was needed instead was "vigorous investigative oversight." The word was that Gentleman John had been leaned on by the leadership and asked to cool it. They didn't want to unnerve moderate voters across the nation for whom that might be too radical a step.
Conyers doesn't deny that he felt some heat. Nevertheless, he indicated impeachment was a nonstarter now, for all the right reasons.
"There isn't time. There simply isn't time to get it done, and we have so many other things we need to do in this Congress," he said. "Health care, the economy. Ending the war. And getting ready for 2008."
Spoken like a guy who's been taken to Room 101. Of course there'd be time to impeach the president. The impeachment of Andrew Johnson happened in March 1968 1868, only a year before he left office. The Clinton impeachment started in 1998 and rolled over into 1999. But the farce of that impeachment has probably wrecked the whole process for decades to come; it's associated with vindictiveness now, instead of removing a president who's committed crimes and has to go.
OK, I'll go where Conyers won't: The only way to salvage impeachment in the next two years is by making it sound completely non-vindictive. Impeach Bush and Cheney, but promise that the nominees to replace them won't be Democrats like Nancy Pelosi. Nominate James Baker III and Tom Kean. That way there's "accountability" for the botched Iraq war, no one has to suffer while Bush winds down his term, and the new president and VP will be the favorites of the DC chattering classes who clutch their pearls at the word "impeachment."
(I'm not 100 percent serious about this, incidentally.)