After a couple of years of talking to people about impeachment, it seems as if I’ve heard just about all of the ideas and considerations people new to the conversation seem to be discovering as if they were flowers blossoming from a fresh cow pattie.
One commenter at Blue Oregon linked to a Washington Post op/ed by Michael Tomasky — who’s been keeping a seat warm at The American Prospect for several years — with makes the alarming claim that impeachment is “The Dumbest Move the Dems Could Make”.
Then again, Tomasky may not be the person you want to turn to for advice. Here he is from March 2003, just a few days after the invasion of Iraq (my emphasis):
This may sound self-evident, but it feels like it needs saying because I’m picking up, as I browse some of the liberal Web sites and follow the protest actions, a certain “Aha!” mentality with regard to the alleged “quagmire” that now looms. The mentality is understandable on one level. To a considerable extent the hawks’ credibility hangs heavily on a smashing and quick success. No reputation is more on the line than that of Donald Rumsfeld, who has spent the better part of the last year and a half pooh-poohing the career brass in the Pentagon and its quaint 20th-century ways. Seeing Rumsfeld and all his allies taken down a notch is a tempting thing to hope for, to say nothing of the more important fact that a quick success in Iraq will go some distance toward greasing the skids for Iran, North Korea or wherever they decide should come next.
But it’s wrong to think this way, and not merely for the obvious reason that such a view amounts to hoping for more death and agony. First of all, the use of the word “quagmire” after five days is preposterous. Vietnam became a quagmire after about three and a half years. This war, even with the Iraqis displaying a stiffer upper lip than we’d been led to believe they would — and even with the prospect of house-to-house combat in Baghdad — is very unlikely to take more than three and a half months. (If it somehow should, I’d venture that George W. Bush will be in deep political trouble.) Besides which, one should not have opposed the Vietnam War because it became a quagmire. One should have opposed the 1965 escalation, if not the 1961 mini-escalation in the number of “advisers,” on principle. Now, as then, concerns about a “quagmire” reflect a response to circumstances — is the war going poorly or well? — rather than an expression of principled belief.
So there will not, in all likelihood, be a quagmire.
And that was from a guy who was against the invasion, supposedly.
People were predicting a quagmire at the time not because things were briefly bogged down on the drive to Baghdad. They were predicting a quagmire in the long term because we were invading a country of 25 million people with no plan to get out.
Moreover, people did oppose the Vietnam war on principle before it became a quagmire (in Tomasky’s opinion that would have been about 1968). People protested the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964. There were protests throughout the Johnson/Humphrey portion of the war (“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”) Martin Luther King spoke out against the war in 1967 on moral and ethical grounds as well as on the right of a people to self-determination.
So I’m not particularly impressed by Tomasky’s prognostication or his historical knowledge.
Tomasky’s view of impeachment doesn’t take into account information that would be exposed at the hearings or trial. He’s presenting the case as if the vote would be taken immediately, without any case being made against Bush and Cheney that would build pressure on reluctant legislators to remove them from office.
So forgive me if I don’t share the commenter’s appreciation of the quality of Tomasky’s judgment.