Monday, July 09, 2007
And Now, President Nancy Pelosi
I see little real chance that Congress would instigate impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney, despite a public willing to see such a thing happen. And nothing in the behavior of either man has shown a desire to resign the powers they control.
But just for argument's sake, let us say that on some sweltering hot August night in 2007 both men decide to tender resignations and go back to the private sector. The law says in such a case, the Speaker of the House would then take the office of President. That person today is Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
What might happen next?
She does not strike me as a politician of uncanny wisdom and strength, and I hardly think she would (or could) bring the nation to some political nightmare landscape. For the most part, the functions of the federal government are carried out daily by non-elected workers and even a radical shift of power would likely be accommodated and all would precede as it does now.
I do think you'd see a definite and steady drawdown of troops in Iraq, which is going to be happening by early next year anyway. Concerns about a civil war in Iraq would be answered with the fact that it is a nation mired in civil war today.
In other words, the fate of Iraq is on a course now which must play itself out before additional steps can take place. It certainly seems little will be done from a US perspective anyway until after the 2008 elections are done.
However, with a major shakeup in the Oval Office and the burdens of decisions placed on other shoulders, some one (and I have no idea who at this point) or some group in Washington could emerge with some workable, practical and effective ideas for how to resolve the problems in the Middle East. And I know full well, whatever decisions the US makes, it is ultimately the people in that region who must decide what happens next.
And truly, short of some new, heinous catastrophe I see no changes in the Oval Office until after the elections. But Americans are a hardy and tough bunch, who have been through huge changes in the Oval Office for many decades, so fears it might crumble under Pelosi are unmerited. We've been here before and will likely he here again.
In pondering this idea, I was reading about Oklahoma Congressman Carl Albert, "the little man from Little Dixie", who was House Speaker from 1971 through 1976. With the roiling turmoil of the Nixon presidency, he could have easily become President, though he remarked then and in his autobiography he thought it would be hazardous for a Democrat to replace a Republican.
This page has a brief history of Albert, who, more than anyone else, shaped the modern office of Speaker of the House and helped solidify and concentrate Democrat power in Congress.
Albert could have moved to take the office of President, but seemed reluctant, as mentioned. Still, it could have been.
And while I see no Oval Office shake-up ahead, I wonder how many in Washington are currently weighing options now about the costs of massive change and the costs of sitting back and doing nothing. As it stands now, Congress seems poised (finally) to challenge Bush and Cheney at every step from here on out -- which is precisely the intention of our system of checks and balances. Many arguments could be made that when this system is out of balance the nation is poorly served.