By David Swanson
I think Karl Rove should be permitted to testify to Congress in private, without taking any oath, and without any record being kept of what he says. I had hoped we could avoid the indecency of having to spell out the reason why, but apparently we can’t. So please remember this and then never say it aloud again: he wants to lie. Sssshhh. There, we said it. And you’re making it very difficult for him, and that’s not very nice or respectful.
Just think about what will happen if Senator Leahy or Congressman Conyers insists on subpoenaing Rove to testify in public under oath. Half the people in the country will know enough to jump up and down and point their fingers at Rove and yell: “He’s lying!” And then what a fine mess that will be! Lying under oath is a crime, for godsake. The next thing you know, the Congressional committees charged with making sure the White House obeys laws will have to divert their attention to making sure the White House obeys laws. We can ill afford such distractions when we’re trying to keep a clear focus on enacting our labor and spinach policies through war bills that the White House plans to veto. I mean, it’s hard enough to take care of our national spinach policy through war bills that aren’t vetoed. Doing it through vetoed war legislation is a challenge that requires our full attention.
Or suppose that Leahy or Conyers or both of them insist on putting Rove under oath and on camera, but the White House refuses. Then we’ll have a fine choice of either leaving our Constitutional separation of powers in the hands of a Supreme Court that thinks it’s working on a subcontract to the Vice President, or relying on the American people to raise holy hell over the outrage of an openly criminal White House. Frankly, and I know that I speak for the American public when I say this, I’m feeling a bit sleepy at the moment and there’s a basketball game coming on TV in an hour or so.
Plus, and this is where we really fail as a people I think, not to mention Georgetown as a basketball team, we should be looking ahead a couple of steps. Imagine that the public does raise a ruckus, or imagine that Rove lies under oath, or for that matter imagine that he tells the truth. Whichever way this plays out, we’ll be looking right down the barrel of something we’re not supposed to be looking at: impeachment. For the White House to refuse to allow Congressional oversight would be like the President signing bills into law and then tacking on notes announcing that he won’t obey the laws, or like the President illegally spying on political opponents and openly admitting that he chooses not to obey the law when it comes to spying. Or imagine … geeze, I don’t know, imagine if the White House openly kidnapped people with no legal process and tortured and sometimes murdered them in secret prisons outside the reach of legal observation. Or suppose they leaked the identity of a CIA agent in order to punish the agent’s family. In other words, imagine the unimaginable. Imagine the most blatant criminal threats to our system of government. That is what we’ll be facing if Leahy and Conyers foolishly continue to do their jobs. And then we’re left with impeachment, and we can’t have that.
Because, frankly, haven’t we caused Nancy Pelosi and MoveOn.org enough grief already? Ms. Pelosi is a very nice woman with a good education and a beautiful house, and all she asks is to be left in peace. And yet people keep whining about how “we elected the Democrats to end the war,” “we elected the Democrats to end the war,” “na nah na nah na nah.” Enough, already! What did she ever do to you? Do you even KNOW any of the Iraqis your money will help kill over the next two years? All right then. Shut up about it. And if Nancy Pelosi says impeachment is off the table, it’s off the table. Show some respect if it’s not too much to ask.
And that goes for you, too, Senator Leahy and Congressman Conyers. Thus far you’ve been very well behaved. Look at the example being set for you by Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Reyes. They chair the committees tasked with investigating how the White House used statements that were not actually true to lead us into a war. Now, Reyes has publicly committed to not doing anything, and Rockefeller has publicly not done anything. You couldn’t ask for finer role models, and they’re right there at hand. What more do you want?
My advice to you is to bear in mind that all of the powers Cheney and Bush and Rove and gang have seized can one day belong to a dictator who is a member of YOUR PARTY. And Nancy Pelosi is showing you the way. She’s just forced through the House a bill that will respectfully ask the President to end the war just before the next elections, but – and this is the brilliance of it – won’t actually use the power of the purse to force him to end the war. What better guarantee could there be that he won’t end the war and you’ll be able to pretend that you wanted him to? And the power to lie the nation into wars will belong to YOUR PARTY. Of course you’ll still be in Congress, not the White House, but you’ll be able to claim you belong to the royal party. Chicks dig that. You’re going to be set.
Now, I know that you keep hearing from members of the public who phone you, Congressman Conyers at (202) 225-5126 and you, Senator Leahy at (202) 224-4242, and urge you not only to put White House criminals under oath in public but to push for impeachment of them and their superiors. Bad idea. When you guys went after Nixon, its true that you ended a war, passed all sorts of progressive legislation, and won the next elections, but you traumatized the nation. When you let Reagan go, it’s true that you faltered, lost the next elections, and created the Bush dynasty, but you honored the legacy of a president in a time of need. Impeachment is a Republican tool. It’s mostly been used by Republicans over the years, and you shouldn’t want to be associated with it. Republicans tried to impeach Truman, and they got what they wanted and then won the next elections, but they really pissed off Truman. And they even impeached Clinton when the public was against it, and while they still held onto power, they gave impeachment such a bad name that now you really shouldn’t use it even when the public wants you to.
There is one easy step you can take, and that is to let Rove testify the way the White House chooses. If you can do that for your country, we in the movement for impeachment will do our part as well and go home and keep quiet. Most Americans, even those who very much want impeachment, are already keeping quiet anyway. There are exceptions. There are people boiling over with moral outrage. At every conference I go to there’s at least one guy with a proposal to force impeachment through something like a national strike, which would of course require the coordinated focused efforts of many more people than have ever been active for truth or justice, not to mention a fund to support them as they lost pay and employment and health care. What you should do, as our representatives with the reins of power in your hands, is leave such moral outrage to such amateurs and focus on the positive. And, above all else, we want a progressive spinach policy.