The Impugnment Hearings

When the Republicans held the majority in the House, the Democrats held a mock-impeachment hearing against George Bush in which John Conyers presided as a pretend committee chair.  Dana Milbank famously skewered Conyers and the nuttiness that surrounded the June 2005 basement meeting, calling it “a trip to the land of make-believe”.  Almost two years after gaining the majority, Democrats continue to live in fantasy, but this time at least Conyers doesn’t have to pretend that he’s a committee chair, as the Los Angeles Times reports on the so-called “impugnment hearings” against Bush:

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Friday that it insisted was not about removing President Bush from office.

But critics of Bush’s policies couldn’t pass up the chance to accuse the president of a long list of impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Leading the way was Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the former Democratic presidential candidate who has brought repeated impeachment resolutions to the House floor against Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Kucinich got a rock-star welcome — whistles, hoots and clapping — from hundreds of antiwar, anti-Bush people crammed into the hearing room and lining the hallways outside.

Conyers was there, too, providing his special kind of leadership:

“To the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing,” said Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), pointing out the event’s less incendiary title, “executive power and its constitutional limitations.”

Still, Conyers, a vocal opponent of Bush, noted that his panel had pursued many allegations that Kucinich and others regard as grounds for impeachment: manipulating intelligence about Iraq; misusing authority with regard to torture, detention and rendition; politicizing the Justice Department; and retaliating against critics.

In 2005, Milbank chronicled the insanity that surrounded the pretend committee meeting Conyers chaired. The air of conspiracy paranoia led to several embarrassing sequences. 9/11 Truthers used it as a rally to hand out their materials, and at least one witness, Ray McGovern, explained to the committee how Bush was being run by the Jooooooooos. While the LAT/AP report doesn’t explicitly report these kinds of antics at the Impugnment Hearings yesterday, one witness was moved to try to bring Conyers and Kucinich back to Planet Earth:

One witness, law professor Jeremy Rabkin of George Mason University, said he was “astonished at the mood in this room.”

“The tone of these deliberations is slightly demented,” Rabkin said.

“You should all remind yourselves that the rest of the country is not necessarily in this same bubble in which people think it is reasonable to describe the president as if he were Caligula.”

Shh! Don’t wake them from their fantasy, Professor Rabkin. It’s dangerous to confront the “slightly demented” with reality ….

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