Monday, December 12, 2005

“Three More Years! Three More Years!”

“…the member of Parliament maintained a confident air of satisfaction,
which was why politicians were assassinated, Blair thought, because
nothing else would faze them.”

- from Martin Cruz Smith’s novel Rose

“Hello, this is Mr. Insider. How may I help you?

“Mr. Insider, a bunch of us here in the office were talking about impeachment, and we’re stumped. You know Washington from the inside out. We’re hoping you can settle an argument for us.”

“I’ll do my best to justify your confidence. What’s your question?”

“Well, actually, it’s not just one question. We’ve got several questions.”

“Okay, let’s just take them one at a time. From the top.”

“That’s easy. The first one that’s on everybody’s mind is ‘What’s keeping George Bush from being impeached?’”

“What do your friends in the office think?”

“They think Republicans will never let it happen as long as they control both houses of Congress.”

[Mr. Insider bursts into a huge belly laugh. Finally, gasping and wheezing from
the effort, he brings it to a stop.] That’s what they think? [Can’t help himself, and breaks into laughter again.] Listen, Republicans are desperate to dump him! They’d throw Bush out in a minute if they could. Every Republican politician in the country is panicked. They’re afraid—with good reason—that voters will blame them for the mess the country is in. They’re all scared spitless that come election day the public will toss them over the side of a bridge like a sack of unwanted kittens weighed down with a stone.”

“So it’s not the Republicans dragging their feet on impeachment?”

“Oh hell no! They’re all for it! It’s the Democrats who want to keep him in office. He’s the best thing they’ve got going for them. There’s a lot of arm-twisting going on in the cloakrooms right now, with Republicans trying to get a few Democrats to sign on for impeachment. But the Democrats won’t budge, and the Republicans don’t want it to look like it’s strictly a partisan affair.”

“Do you think there’s a good case for impeachment?”

[Mr. Insider snorts.] “You must be kidding, right? Clinton was impeached for lying about oral sex. Bush and his cronies lied about a war that’s bloodied the whole Middle East. Our fiscal future is a nightmare. Iraq is draining billions out of our budget faster than waste flushed down a commode. They lied about the cost of a prescription drug benefit. They lied about the cost of their tax breaks. They’re shredding the Constitution, holding people without charge, denying them the right to see a lawyer, kidnapping people from the streets, and torturing suspects all over the globe. If you impeach Clinton and you don’t impeach Bush, it’s like executing a jaywalker and excusing a serial killer.”

“So why hasn’t it happened already? Why do we have to put up with this guy for three more years? Are we just stuck?”

“That’s easy enough. Who fills Bush’s slot if he’s out?”

[A pause. Then a groan.] “Dick Cheney.”

“Exactly. The Torture Master himself. Bush took a page from his father’s book. You know what they used to call Dan Quayle: Bush’s life insurance.”

“But couldn’t you impeach them both at once—some kind of two-for-one special?”

“You haven’t thought this through. Who’s next in line after Cheney?”

“Let’s see… it’s the Speaker of the House, isn’t it?”

“Exactly. Dennis Hastert. Tom DeLay’s man of the House.”

“Suppose you could somehow get past all three?”

“Then you get the President Pro Tempore of the Senate—Bill Frist, currently under investigation for insider trading.”

“That’s it then? We’re stuck with this schmuck? For three more years?”

“Hey, if you don’t think long enough about your vote before you cast it, you’ve got a long time afterwards to regret it.”

© Tony Russell, 2005

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