A HACK'S PROGRESS
FIRST, let's examine the impeachment project in the wider context. Impeachment and conviction of both the President and Vice President would remove the Constitutional leader of the US armed forces and his successor at a time when our fighting men are engaged in combat in two theaters. No need to respond to the Impeachfreaks who deny that this will have a demoralizing effect on our troops and encouragement to our enemies. Such denial is merely childish. If the project is a moral and Constitutional imperative, as they claim, then the costs must be acknowledged and born.
SECOND, we know that, despite the rhetoric about justice, legality and morality, the Impeachfreaks' energy is largely derived from a visceral hatred, measured on a hostility-scale that runs from hysteria to dementia. Their websites invariably include venomous attacks on policies (e.g., economic and environmental) that have nothing to do with the allegedly impeachment charges. For them the time lapse between any accusation whatever and a guilty verdict is a fraction of a nanosecond.
THIRD, Mike Michaud's call for impeachment of Richard Cheney is more than a little odd.
The Constitution allots the V.P. the power to preside over the Senate and break a tie vote, nothing more. The executive power is invested in the president alone. A vice president's power depends on his influence over the president. It might make more sense to investigate Laura Bush's abuse of her power as First Lady. After all, her husband has acknowledged that she was the influence that turned him into a teetotaler. She is clearly a power in the administration.
The Congressman's press secretary assures us that he consulted unknown legal experts who provided him with unspecified advice. All we can say for sure about his legal guidance is that he has endorsed John Edwards, a successful lawyer, for president. Mrs. Edwards, speaking for her husband, stated back in October that there would be no point in impeaching President Bush unless the vice president was impeached first, because "none of us wants to end up with a President Cheney."
So there we have it. Impeach both Bush and Cheney and we end up with President Pelosi, an alien life form from a distant planet called San Francisco. That is the real rationale for including him in the impeachment fantasy.
FOURTH, The incumbent demands an investigation of allegations that the V.P. is guilty of "mischaracterizing information about Iran's nuclear program." Nowhere in the Constitution or statutes of the United States is "mischaracterization" defined as a crime. The word doesn't even appear in standard dictionaries. Our spellcheckers are baffled by it. No one has ever been, or ever will be, impeached on a charge that cannot be defined.
Now we all know that professional politicians love clarity like the Devil loves holy water, so we are allowed to guess that the congressman, in an evasive and roundabout way, is accusing Richard Cheney of lying. For example, the VP warned us about Iran's nuclear ambitions while a recent National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the mad mullahs abandoned their effort to achieve nuclear capability in 2003.
There are a number of obvious problems here. The report is an "estimate" not a statement of verifiable fact. American intelligence services do not have a flawless record. Israeli intelligence services do not agree with this conclusion. It's true that Israel's has its own interests and its intelligence services do not have a perfect record either, but their record in the region is better than our own.
FIFTH, the belief that the products of intelligence services are, or ever could be, revelations of verifiable truth is contrary to both logic and historical experience. According to CIA routines there are five steps in the intelligence process: 1) Planning and Direction; 2) Collection; 3) Processing; 4) Analysis; 5) Dissemination. There are potentials for failure in every one, and some intelligence professionals consider this description itself flawed.
Some scholars insist that "intelligence success" must be defined as substantially reducing uncertainty. Most professionals dismiss this measure as a demand for clairvoyance and insist that the most that can be expected is the provision of a range of viable options and opportunities for policy makers to choose.
In sum, an investigation aimed at proving that the National Intelligence Estimate is Invincible Truth and the VP's views are Demonstrable Fraud is an indefensible absurdity.
SIXTH, To accuse the President and Vice President of harboring preconceptions is merely to state a truism. This is true of all policy-makers and has been the subject of much discussion among students of intelligence and decision making.
SEVENTH, An impeachment investigation would require public exposure of our entire intelligence operation to public scrutiny. It could not be otherwise.
On September 26 Michaud's statement to MaineImpeach.org emphasized his hostility to the administration's policies but avowed that a "purely partisan impeachment proceedings would be destructive and divisive." In December he writes a letter the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee calling for impeachment investigation in order to heal the nation's divisions. No bipartisan support has emerged in these months. Only a fraction of the Democratic congressmen support impeachment.
Mike Michaud may not be the brightest bulb on the marquee, but he knows that a Democratic Congress with a with a 23% approval rating isn't going to heal the country's divisions and assuage public mistrust of government by impeaching a Republican president with a 32% approval rating.
So what is the East Millinocket Macchiavelli really up to? Back in September MaineImpeach.org urged its supporters to gather signatures to give Mike the "courage" to act. That makes sense. Popularity is to a timid politician what Rum is to a timid soldier"”a powerful stimulant.
Apparently 12,000 signatures provided Mike with just enough stimulus to send a letter to the committee, although not quite enough to explain his action to his constituents. His press secretary responded to a inquiry by Jessica Alaimo of PolitickerMaine.com that he was too busy doing the people's business and fighting for his constituents. You've got to wonder what price in self-respect is paid for uttering such empty bromides.
Mike may be a double-blank domino as a Congressman, but he knows all the dodges of political hackery as well as an organ-grinder's monkey knows its tricks. He has won the undying love of the Impeachfreaks. DailyHate.com, Cranks-R-Us.net, PoliticalDelirium.org and such like websites hail him as a hero.
The present atmosphere of hyperventilating hyperbole makes his impeachment proposal look ordinary. He'll avoid stirring up the voters at large by dodging all demands for explanation. Not even his most determined supporters expect him to know more about the complexities of intelligence than a curb greaser knows about quantum physics.
He risks no probing inquiries; Maine's press has shown little interest in impeachment despite its obvious objections to the administration, but it will slide quietly over his contradictions and confusion. So far are only Jessica Alaimo has bothered to follow up with a question.