THE POLITICAL WORLD spent this past week analyzing Ralph Nader's decision to run for president, but lost was this nugget from Sunday's "Meet the Press" appearance:
TIM RUSSERT: In terms of what you stand for, this is what you said in July of last year about George Bush: "Mr. Bush was not only 'beatable but impeachable,' for deceptions and prevarications on national security matters . . ." Will part of your platform be the impeachment of George Bush?
RALPH NADER: Let me put it this way. When a president misleads, if not fabricates, going to war and sending our sons and daughters to war with no exit strategy, with a quagmire over there, that is very serious, Tim. If there's any better definition of high crimes and misdemeanors in our Constitution, then misleading or fabricating the basis for going to war, as the press has documented ad infinitum, I don't know any cause of impeachment that's worse. . . .
RUSSERT: So there should be an impeachment hearing and trial?
NADER: I think Congressman John Conyers is going to file such a request.
It would be big news, if true. Unfortunately for Nader, it's not.
"I am fairly certain--but not positive--that [Conyers] is not contemplating anything like that," says a senior staffer for the Detroit congressman. "He's been hearing from lots of people all sorts of suggestions about what should be done regarding the administration's course of conduct in Iraq and a few other areas. He's basically been in a listening mode. I think he's interested in possibly having some scholarly consideration [about impeachment]. . . but drafting articles? No."
How Nader became confused on so important an issue is a little unclear. Sources say he met with Conyers, but that Conyers made it clear (his remarks at an ANSWER rally notwithstanding) that he was not going to pursue impeachment. Nader's office ignored repeated requests for comment.
But just because John Conyers isn't with him, doesn't mean that Nader is alone on the idea of impeaching the president. Indeed, he has all sorts of company.
THE HANDFUL of impeachment drafts floating around the web have a few common themes. They want to get rid of Bush for "crimes against peace and humanity," "war crimes," and the "deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law."
The cudgels have been taken up here and there by brave individuals. Last July, Sen. Bob Graham intimated that Bush should go the way of Nixon and Clinton; the Los Angeles Times's Robert Scheer is also on board. However only Clair Callan, an 82-year-old former congressman from Nebraska, has been gallant enough to put his money where his mouth is: Last spring he filed a federal suit alleging that Bush had violated the 1973 War Powers Act. His suit was dismissed.
Not all of the loony left has glommed onto impeachment, of course. Lyndon LaRouche, for one, is cautious on the subject: "Is 'W' impeachable? Should he be impeached? To impeach 'W' while Cheney is still Vice President, would be tantamount to treason against the entire human race!"
Last August in the tiny northern California town of Arcata, town councilman Dave Meserve found a way around the Cheney problem by proposing a resolution calling for the impeachment of both the president and vice president. After months of deliberation, the council compromised with Meserve by sending a letter to Congress asking them to look into the president's conduct during the Iraq war. The Santa Cruz city council took similar action in September.
Standing firmly against this sort of lily-livered compromise are the two chief engines of the impeachment movement: Francis Boyle's Impeach-Bush-Now.org and Ramsey Clark's VoteToImpeach.org.
PROFESSOR FRANCIS A. BOYLE teaches international law at the University of Illinois and is something of an impeachment regular. "This is Boyle's second impeachment campaign," his website bio says proudly, "the first of which took place in 1991 when he co-authored the resolution to impeach George H.W. Bush . . ."