COLUMN: No evidence, no trial

Leslie Arntz

Last week ushered in the one year anniversary of Bush’s re-election. This notable occasion was celebrated by thousands of protesters spread out in little, angry, fist-shaking groups across the country. Fliers stapled to telephone poles in Cleveland’s Public Square and chalk memos scribbled on campuses called for the young and old, the disgruntled and disaffected to walk out of work, class or yoga and join marches and protests against the Bush regime.

A common vein-bulging cry included the words “impeach,” “Bush” and “now.” Generally in that order. Try to find the reasoning behind the shouting.

Partisan disagreement is not grounds for impeachment. Anger over an administration’s policies and actions is routine: nothing to be alarmed about. No president has had 100 percent approval ratings. There are always individuals dissenting for the sake of dissent.

Disagreement with policy and evidence of criminal activity are two separate entities. A president cannot be impeached because he fails to do everything the losing party demands. He cannot be impeached for mispronouncing standard English words. He cannot be impeached for appointing or nominating individuals who share his political ideologies.

The Constitution lays out the prerequisites for impeachability. Article II, section 4 states “the President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

If there is proof of such things, then, by all means, they should be brought forward. If not, then the subject should be dropped. Once proof has been procured, the impeachment may proceed.

Don’t leave it just at impeachment, though. The clause “and convict” should be added to the protesters’ mantra.

If Bush is ever to be removed from office, first the House of Representatives will have to charge him with one or more of the above offenses. Article I, section 3, allots the Senate to try him with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding. If convincing half of the representatives to call for an impeachment wasn’t hard enough, convincing 2/3 of a Senate in which Republicans hold a majority will be even more difficult.

Without the hard evidence, there is no trial. Grassroots movements have sprouted all over the country, but to limited success. If the turnout for protests is any indication of the true support of such movements, then they are floundering at best. Instead of protesting, sit down and write letters.

If thought about how to impeach Bush hasn’t been explored, then thought to what happens after he’s gone probably hasn’t either. Americans won’t get to elect whomever they wish to be president. Dick Cheney, John Dennis Hastert, Ted Stevens and Condoleezza Rice are next in line.

Exactly how impeachment will help our country is a stab in the dark at best. Impeachment rarely happens, not because politicians rarely commit impeachable crimes, but because the process demands huge amounts of congressional time. Those calling for impeachment see the executive branch as corrupt and incompetent and it is difficult to discern how voluntarily crippling another branch will make things all better.

Action is good. Action before thought is not. Cutting off the nose to spite the face was never a particularly positive idiom.

Leslie Arntz is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at