Unfortunately for President Bush, recent polling data indicates that taking certain issues to the people may not be such a great idea. One of those ideas is a discussion of impeachment.
Via Joe Baker from the Rock River Times:
Fifty percent of Americans favor impeaching George W. Bush if it is proven he lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, according to a poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots group that wants a congressional probe of President BushÂs decision to invade.
The poll margin was 50 percent to 44 percent in favor of impeachment. Ipsos Public Affairs, a non-partisan polling company, sampled the opinions of 1,001 U.S. adults between Oct. 6-9 to reach its results.
Now, I don't believe for one moment that the Republican-controlled House is going to begin impeachment proceedings against their President. Plus, as much as I may hope otherwise, I don't think the Democrats can win enough seats in 2006 to make impeachment a reality. But that's really not the point.
The point is that the American people are beginning to really question the war in Iraq and what its purpose is. Many Americans, both Right and Left, were willing to let the President fudge a bit on his causus belli, in the interests of patriotism and national unity. But there comes a time when a reckoning must be made, and the American people are beginning to cope with their fear of terrorism, a fear actively cultivated by the Bush Administration, and are beginning to question our leader. And rightly we should be; it's our responsibility as Americans to hold our leadership accountable for its actions.
The justification for the war in Iraq today is generally cited by supporters as providing freedom and stability for the Iraqi people. But that wasn't the reason Bush and Powell gave originally as to why the U.S. needed to invade Iraq. It was a portrayal of Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States; a claim that waschallengedd then and turned out to be completely false. The Bush Administration was savvy enough politically to realize that the American people would never support a nation-building excursion into the Middle East; in fact, Bush campaigned against such in 2000 as a response to Clinton's intervention in the former Yugoslavia. This begs the question as to whether Bush and crew deliberately lied to the American people about his real reasons for going to war. I believe he did and further, I believe the ongoing investigation into the Plame leak and the civil suit to follow could break into a wider investigation about this duplicity.
Taking the country into a war is arguably the most serious decision a President can make. When that decision is made in bad faith with the American people, then the President must take responsibility for the lives lost. Taking the country to war under false pretense is one of the most egregious abuses of power an American President can commit and he should face the consequences of that abuse. If the false pretense was accidental, then the President is incompetent and should resign. If it's intentional, the President is a criminal and, thus, impeachment is not only feasible, it is the responsibility of the House under the Constitution. That public opinion supports this is actually irrelevant from a Constitutional perspective, but is a very ominous sign for the President none the less.
One final note: For those who may think that the impeachment of Clinton was justified but would eschew the same for Bush, I will leave you with the words of former Illinois Republican Henry Hyde, when asked if the Clinton impeachment was retaliation for Nixon:
"I can't say it wasn't, but I also thought that the Republican party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty, our responsibility," said Hyde.
It's your duty now, Republicans, more than it ever was in 1996.