It took the corporate media six years of R.M. Nixon's presidency to finally acknowledge his alcoholism, mental instability, habitual lying, mean-spiritedness, and betrayal of the Constitution for political ends under the guise of "national security." All of these flaws had been visible or predicted prior to his election. They had been loftily dismissed as partisan rhetoric by the respectabilist media rather than treated as descriptions of the reality America was going to have to deal with.
The great gray media mavens discovered this November that the American people really are against the war in Iraq and that they held the president and the Republican Party responsible for the debacle. The bigfoot media are now shocked, shocked to detect how many new clothes the Emperor wasn't wearing after having ignored his palpable regal nudity nearly forever.
Frank Rich, a much better political writer than he ever was a New York Times drama critic, uses phrases for Bush Minor such as "troubling behavior," "state of denial," "untethered from reality," "indulging in pure absurdity," "subversion of language." In the Washington Post, long an editorial bastion of the "he-is-our-president-after-all" school of blandly sucking up to unconscionable activities, Eric Foner was allowed to write, "Nixon considered himself above the law. Bush has taken this disdain for law even further." Bloggers at www.firedoglake.com note the sudden prevalence of mainstream "stories of [Bush Minor's] ineptitude, self-delusion, corruption and even accusations of near criminally negligent behavior."
Yet the Republicans presciently inoculated themselves against impeachment for Constitutional crimes by using its blunt needle against W.J. Clinton's private life. Again showing that they are the party of responsible government, the Democrats decided not to impeach G.W. Bush and R.B. Cheney although they certainly earned it -- the old-fashioned way. The Democrats' estimated that the strain on the country of a justified impeachment would be far worse than that of the theatrical impeachment the Republicans disdainfully staged.
The forthcoming 110th Congress' strategy of investigate, reveal and legislate will certainly highlight specifically Republican, not just governmental, excesses in wartime and reconstruction contracting, lobbying, campaign finance and practices, political deformation of intelligence reporting and unconstitutional torture, detention and spying. Out of all this, a wave of revulsion pointing toward impeachment could begin to build.
But Bush Minor may again escape. When R.W. Reagan's flippantly unconstitutional behavior (using money scammed from Muslims to pay for an illegal Central American war) could no longer be hidden, the judgment was that there was not enough time to restrain him before the natural end of his term.
In the déjà-vu-all-over-again sweepstakes, we seem to be at about the spring of 1974 or the fall of 1986. Unless it is the summer of 1788.
Reagan evaded the direct political consequences of his actions; Nixon did not. But an earlier case may point a way toward disciplining Bush Minor without the panoply of prosecution and trial before House and Senate.
When King George III exhibited behavior so bizarre that even his relatives noticed, the Lords and Commons muddled on. But in the fall of 1788 it became necessary, owing to royal incapacity, to open Parliament without a writ from the King or a speech from the Throne. The subsequent Constitutional crisis, adapting to a situation neither foreseen nor accommodated by existing precedent, brought down one ministry and plagued another. Ultimately a form was devised which served well enough to be later ratified by the King upon his return to sanity. That form called for grave royal actions, such as assent to legislation, to be carried out by commissioners appointed by Parliament -- as who should say, committees acting for the King.
This continued the great English evolution toward fully divorcing the King's powers from the King's person that began with the establishment of an independent judiciary. We, however, froze the process at a stage beyond which the British effortlessly glided sometime in the late 19th century. One of the bitter jokes among politics students in the former British Empire is that the United States retains the last regnant Constitutional monarch in world history; he simply happens to be elected.
Thus it is both Constitutionally and historically possible to declare, by act of Congress other than impeachment, that the president and vice president are incapable of carrying out their offices. While this was done for lunacy in George III's case, the Bush Bullies' behavior is not far removed from that dismal and ineffective state. Perhaps they have earned a remedy as peculiar as their actions.
It is manifest that Bush suffers from untreated bipolar disorder, alcoholism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and probably oppositional-defiant disorder as well. He may well have set the floor for presidential emotional dysfunction and mental incompetence. Cheney is merely a thug but, since it is compounded in his case by dissociation from civilized discourse and stubborn refusal to grasp reality, he too sinks to the level of incapacity for high office displayed by his chief.
Don't impeach. Appoint Commissioners in Lunacy to administer the offices of president and vice president until the next elections. Declare that the Act establishing the Commissioners sets no precedents and does not alter the Constitution. Bush and Cheney can continue to draw their salaries if they stay on their ranches quietly and privately.
It's just a one-time thing. Like the madness of King George III. Or the Supreme Court intervention in Gore v. Bush. Never happen again. Promise.
James McCarty Yeager, a native Texan, will observe the 35th anniversary of his immigration to Washington DC in May 2007.
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