Thursday, December 14, 2006


On the Table with Congressman John Conyers Jr.

Just minutes ago I received an email from Congressman John Conyers Jr. informing me (and doubtless thousands of other rapt and impatient subscribers) that he has officially been named Chairman-designate of the House Judiciary Committee in the 110th Congress.

The news was expected, but what Conyers said in the missive points to more... maybe much more. Quoting Conyers:

"...we helped bring public attention to the Downing Street Minutes, warrantless wiretapping, and the disenfranchisement of Ohio voters and on many, many other fronts. While the public has expressed its concern about these issues, the Republican Congress was largely derelict in looking at any of the Bush administration's excesses. Thankfully, these -- and other -- areas will now be subject to greater scrutiny and examination, and the lack of oversight of the last six years will finally yield to checks and balances.

For my part, I believe this election was very much about restoring transparency and accountability to Washington and I will seek to do that as Chairman. I think the Judiciary Committee should become a place where we tackle important legislative issues, like lobbying reform and election reform, and where we ascertain the truth for the American people. I hope I will be the kind of Chairman you can be proud of.

It won't happen overnight. There is the inevitable lag between the election, the lame duck session of Congress, and the transition to the Majority. And there is so much left undone over the last six years."

The key phrase is ...these -- and other -- areas will now be subject to greater scrutiny and examination... which may signal that Conyers will indeed reopen these investigations.

The first two, the Downing Street Minutes and warrantless wiretapping, if properly investigated, will lead to subpoenas, claims of Presidential privilege and eventually a showdown between President Bush and the 110th Congress.

Should the president decide to resist, as he is currently in delaying any movement on the Iraq issue, talk of special prosecutors, select committees and impeachment will surely follow. My personal view on the president is that his days in office are numbered and that he and Cheney will both resign before the year 2007 is out. This follows the Watergate pattern, in which President Nixon eventually stepped down rather than face impeachment in the House.

While Bush has proven to be at least as stubborn as Nixon - probably moreso - he's not immune from loud, raucous, public protests nor the underside of Republican politics. Just as Nixon was advised by party loyalists to resign, so too will the heavy hands of Republican leadership fall hard upon the head and shoulders of George W. Bush. The likely leaders of the insurrection from the right would be Senators Trent Lott, Elizabeth Dole, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and John McCain, who rightly could see his chances at being elected president in 2008 significantly compromised by a recalcitrant, unpopular president.

As in 1974, when Nixon resigned, the best friends of the Democrats who seek the removal of the president and vice president are likely to be found on the other side of the aisle.

Conyers' investigations will get the ball rolling early in 2007 and the natural process of political survival will carry Bush and Cheney beyond the Beltway before the primaries begin in 2008.

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