Richard Dreyfuss: "We Stand Against These Things"

Richard Dreyfuss appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday and had a lot to say, but this got my attention:
MAHER: And you think he should be impeached? I mean, what would that get you? Cheney as president?

DREYFUSS: The two reasons that one would argue against impeachment are the vice president—[laughter]—and the Democratic Party. [applause] [cheers]

MAHER: Right. All right—

DREYFUSS: [overlapping] But I’m not in favor of impeaching him. I am in favor of the process. And I believe that unless the – the society stands against certain things, they will have endorsed certain things.

MAHER: Right.

DREYFUSS: Like torture. Leaving the Geneva ConveNtion.

MAHER: That is well said, professor.

DREYFUSS: And lying to the Congress about the reasons for war. And once the Republicans are placed in the position of having to endorse torture, you’ve got a bad problem on your hands. And we do not realize that this is not about impeachment; it’s about the other branches of the government doing their duty so that you don’t hand off to a liberal or a conservative president swollen powers when no one ever turns power away. No one ever says, “Oh, no, thank you, we’re not going to use that power.”

MAHER: Right.

DREYFUSS: And so, whoever gets to be president, will use the power handed to this president. And we will rue that day unless we stand, in some way, against that, even in a minority report. Even if we lose – if you lose an impeachment hearing, whoever “we” are, then at least you have a body that says, “We stand against these things.” And unless you do that, then you’re for them. [applause]
I wrote some 30 months ago that Bush had committed impeachable offenses, but just last Friday night found myself having dinner with my liberal wife and liberal friend, arguing whether Bush should be impeached or not. They brought up the same tired arguments that Dreyfuss suggested would come up: we don't want Cheney as President, and it would never succeed.

But I agree with Dreyfuss -- it's the process that matters, not the outcome. Either we have laws and a Constitution that matter, or we do not. Either we oppose the egregrious violations of our system of laws by this President, or we do not and are complicit in our silence.

So what are Bush's impeachable offenses? Tim Dickinson summarizes Bush's offenses and makes a succinct case for impeachment:
  • Whereas the administration "fixed" intelligence to embark on a war of choice, unsanctioned by international law.
  • Whereas a criminally incompetent lack of planning has caused that conflict to drag on longer than U.S. involvement in World War II, while spurring the nuclear ambitions of the mullahs in Tehran.
  • Whereas the president authorized the National Security Administration to engage in warrantless wiretaps of American citizens in violation of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the express will of Congress in establishing the fisa courts.
  • Whereas the president has authorized the use of torture in contravention of military law and Article Three of the Geneva Convention, violations of which, as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy pointedly observed in the Hamdan decision, "are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses."
  • Whereas the president has subjected "enemy combatants" to unconstitutional trial by military tribunal, and held American citizens in indefinite detention without access to lawyers or criminal courts.
  • Whereas the administration's homicidal dithering left more than a thousand of our most vulnerable countrymen to perish, needlessly, under the waters churned by Hurricane Katrina.
Frankly, I don't have a lot of faith in the Democratic Party, especially as led by Nancy Pelosi. (Hell, even in liberal San Francisco, Pelosi's district, Measure J -- a citywide proposition calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney -- passed, but with just 58% of the vote.)

But I do have faith in my fellow Americans. And I'll be watching carefully to see whether this meme catches on: impeach Bush (1.67 million results and counting).