a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

You took an oath, Mr. Van Hollen

Posted by Thomas Nephew on July 28th, 2007

As required by Article VI of the Constitution, Representative Chris Van Hollen swore this oath of office for the 110th Congress:

I, Chris Van Hollen, do solemnly swear … that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Mr. Van Hollen’s memory of that oath may need refreshing.

As first reported on Takoma Park Impeach Bush & Cheney on Friday, Representative and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Van Hollen made some remarks about impeachment during a telephone conference call with DCCC supporters and bloggers:

A caller asked about “Congress’s constitutional responsibility to impeach,” adding “How much further abuse will be required for Democratic leadership to take action?”

Representative Van Hollen replied that Democrats have “stepped up from Day 1” and that they’re now in a “big fight” over the process of how U.S. Attorneys are hired and fired, and are now using subpoena power to try to compel testimony about that matter.

However, he did not want to “consume the entire resources and efforts” of Congress on impeachment. He claimed that impeachment would “would indisputably be the whole [focus] of Congress,” and that with the amount of time remaining before the next election, that would hinder Democrats’ ability to move forward on other things. He closed by reiterating the talking point that he did not want to “consume the entire resources of Congress on impeachment.”

While these are discouraging words to those of us who celebrated the city of Takoma Park’s impeachment resolution on Monday, there may be a silver lining — this argument is so patently absurd that an accomplished, intelligent man like Mr. Van Hollen could surely not bear repeating it for very long. I’ll look it up to make absolutely sure, but I don’t believe that crops rotted in the fields, millions starved, or that Congress was unable to do other work during the Nixon and Clinton impeachment processes.

Unfortunately, once you allow for hyperbole, Van Hollen’s statement is doubly discouraging. For it can surely only mean that supporting and defending the Constitution simply isn’t worth it to Rep. Van Hollen, when he thinks of all the other things he wants to accomplish — it’s too costly, too much effort, too many other priorities suffer.

Too bad.

You took an oath, Mr. Van Hollen. That oath wasn’t to pass an energy bill, it wasn’t to raise the minimum wage, it wasn’t to enact the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, it wasn’t even to get us out of Iraq.

I’m sorry it’s inconvenient; I’m sorry it may mean more work; I’m sorry you may pass one less highway bill. But the oath you took was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is your job.

Do your job.

CROSSPOSTED to “Daily Kos”. I edited the second paragraph to read: Mr. Van Hollen is by no means the only Democratic leader whose memory of that oath seems to need refreshing. But he’s my representative — one I’ve voted for, one I’ve worked for, and one whose positions I usually support — so I’m addressing him. An attached poll asks the question “Should Democratic leadership put impeachment on the table?”; currently 86% of the nearly 60 respondents answer “yes.” Go join the fun.

5 Responses to “You took an oath, Mr. Van Hollen”

  1. eRobin Says:

    If they were serious about this, then they could cancel recesses and work virtually around the clock to move forward on impeachment. There is time in the broader 24-hour day schedule to fit it in. And as for Congress moving forward on other stuff – it’s not like that’s happening on anything except the minimum wage bill that just went into effect.

  2. eRobin Says:

    You know, the Dems could have their own version of a nuclear option – either stop the obstruction or we actually do our jobs and impeach your traitor of a president. It’s super sleazy but maybe only in the way that a plea bargain is.
    (I still say that the GOP/establishment wouldn’t blink and would in fact welcome the opportunity to have their guy exonerated in a 24/7 circus of lies.)

  3. MorganLighter Says:

    Thomas – The whole country is in a mess and we, the voters, have said very little. Where’s the outrage – not counting the Democrats who need to police their own back yards and stop pointing their fingers at everybody else. The only way we’re going to get back to normalcy is via grass roots organizations (my opinion). What happened to: “by the people, for the people, of the people”? Fix the problem, not the blame. Enough said.

  4. Nell Says:

    Given the list of offenses to choose from, the evidence already out there, and the decisive Dem majority, it’s hard to imagine that the House phase of impeachment would take very long.
    And the Senate isn’t getting squat done already, due to the roadblock Republicans. So put the heat on ’em.
    Make a mighty push during September and October to start the occupation-ending program-related activity, and then go for impeachment of Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush in order.

  5. » Blog Archive » Pattycake oversight won’t do, Mr. Van Hollen Says:

    […] “sentiments” — rather than a constitutional duty he and other House members are bound by oath to […]

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