Impeachment rarely the best option

This week has not brought a ringing endorsement for the American government. In Washington, Democrats and Republicans continue to joust over their constitutional roles as Congress and the White House continue to argue over U.S. attorneys and Iraq. Here in Illinois, the three leaders of our state government have failed to pass a budget. The bitter atmosphere has led to calls for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Governor Blagojevich.

But however good it would feel to vent the public’s anger, impeachment, at least at this point, is ill-advised.

Despite a poll showing 45 and 54 percent of Americans wanting to impeach Bush and Cheney, respectively, it’s doubtful that they would be more satisfied with their government and the ensuing political chaos a successful double impeachment would bring.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi (who, by the way, would become president) knows that despite her base’s insistence, Bush and Cheney are more useful to the long-term goals of the Democratic Party as punching bags rather than as political martyrs.

As for our governor, his immature antics are a disgrace, but his failure to a pass a budget is not unusual. Pennsylvania just this weekend broke a budget deadlock with a daylong furlough of the state’s workers.

As the Clinton years showed, impeachment for political reasons isn’t productive. The fact of the matter is that neither the U.S. Congress nor Illinois has exhausted its options for finding solutions to their respective problems.

And without a true smoking gun like the Nixon tapes, impeachment is premature. Heighten investigations if need be, but reserve one of the most serious constitutional powers for when it’s really appropriate.

Impeachment is not a means to a political end; politics is.