Monday, July 09, 2007

Pelosi, Impeachment and 2008

The Washington Post reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is feeling her power as Speaker. Why is this important to the 2008 election? Because it seems that day by day Republican Senators are defecting as the call to impeach the President and Vice President grows in the hinterlands. If Bush refuses to deal on the Iraq War, he knows he is out - and may be if he does deal.

If the number of votes to impeach reaches 67, the constitutionally required number, Bush's only option may be to pull a Nixon and resign, asking Cheney to resign first and appointing a Vice President under the provisions of the 25th Amendment. The ball would then be in the Speaker's court. If she decides that the nation has had enough Republican rule, she could block it. In 1974, Speaker Carl Albert was not fit for the presidency due to his rumored taste for the grape. This is not the case with the current Speaker. If she wants the presidency, she could easily block any nomination provided the votes for impeachment are in hand.

Of course, the votes may not be in hand if she is seen as blocking the appointment of a Republican successor. It all depends on the popular pressure for impeachment. If it is irresistable, she could opt to be President. This would force the current crop of contenders to demure if she desired to run for the seat in her own right. If she offers the Vice Presidency to the junior Senator from New York or the junior Senator from Illinois, the die will be cast for the given future in the Democratic Party.

On the Republican side, being summarily tossed out of office would not bode well for any nominee. An appointed President would likely not fare too well either, especially if a challenger remained in the party or if a pardon were given for ordering torture - although such a pardon would not stop an action by the Hague.

In either case, the door would be wide open for a Michael Bloomberg candidacy. If a percentage of the people believe the Speaker stole the presidency, he would benefit from any backlash. He would also likely beat any appointed President, although in that case Mrs. Clinton would likely pull in the most votes, although possibly not an Electoral College win.

In this case, the Presidency would depend on who wins the most states in the House. Note that the Draft Bloomberg Committee is aggressively recruiting such candidates. If 26 states cannot be lined up, whatever coalition is put together in the Senate may lead to the election of a Vice President. Under this circumstance, whoever is named Vice President by Mrs. Pelosi or the appointed GOP President may or may not have the deciding vote. That could very well be Mrs. Clinton, who could then elect herself President.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Commutation

The Washington Post editorial board feels that the President showed Scooter Libby "Too Much Mercy." We tend to disagree, and not because we are any fans of this administration.

Obstruction of justice should only be a crime if a crime has occurred. Since there was no underlying crime, what anyone questioned in this case should have gotten was an apology for the inconvenience of being bothered by federal agents, not a witch hunt.

Of course, readers of this blog and the related book know that we would not criminalize much and in the event crimes are committed due to drug addiction, alcoholism or mental illness the solution would be treatment for the minimum sentence or until the person is able to maintain in society without probable relapse. There would be less in the way of prosecution, as most would stipulate to the particulars of the incident and the prosecutor would be forced to accept the bona fide diagnosis of addiction or mental illness. In other words, there would be no justice to obstruct unless police manufactured evidence or doctors lied about the diagnosis. However, it would be assumed that crazy people will lie about events.

We also do not believe in political crime, especially political crimes perpetrated by alcoholics, which by all accounts includes Mr. Libby.

This is one reason we agree with commutation rather than pardon. We would hope that Mr. Libby's probation officer notes his high tolerance for alcohol, which is an indicator of alcoholism, and requires that he abstain and attend meetings. Another reason is that losing his law license with the conviction will put him in the company of another noted grand jury liar, who lost his license in Arkansas for lying about sex.

Mr. Bush is to be complimented for his reasoning in this matter, weighing both sides of the pardon v. commutation question and coming up with the right answer. It is amazing what he can do when he leaves Mr. Cheney out of the process. He should take not of that.