Jonah Goldberg

In the wake of the revelation that President Bush ordered secret surveillance of some Americans - without a warrant or statutory authority - some commentators are suggesting that his presidency is in dire trouble. Well, I have one idea for a pick-me-up that will put his approval ratings into at least the mid-60s: Impeach him.

Numerous Democrats have been murmuring about just such an option for a while. Sen. John Kerry recently "joked" that if the Democrats win back the House, articles of impeachment could be filed. Sen. Barbara Boxer has been hyping a conversation she had with Watergate alum and publicity voluptuary John Dean in which the author of "Worse Than Watergate" offered the shocking revelation that what Bush has done is worse than Watergate. Bush, Dean explained, is "the first president to admit to an impeachable offense." Boxer calls this a "startling assertion."

Other startling assertions sure to come down the pike . Michael Moore: "The Iraq war is the worst war ever!";  John Kerry: "This country would be better off if I had gotten more votes than Bush"; and Barbra Streisand: "Bush can't be president, I don't like him."

Meanwhile, in the boggier quarters of the fever-swamp left, calls for impeachment have been croaking up like bullfrogs in mating season for years now.

Now, it's very unlikely Bush would be impeached, for a host of reasons: The Dems probably won't win back the House, calmer heads would prevail in wartime, what Bush is supposed to have done is probably not an impeachable offense (though an impeachable offense is really any offense that Congress decides to impeach you for), etc. Indeed, President Bush's position is largely indistinguishable from the stance taken by the Clinton administration, which held that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches of even American citizens for foreign intelligence purposes.

But all of that is neither here nor there. The main reason Bush's poll numbers would skyrocket if he were impeached is that at the end of the day the American people will support what he did. The legal defense of Bush's ongoing use of warrantless wiretaps is debatable. But the political case for what he did is rock-solid. So long as we're talking about legitimate investigations of terrorist networks, it's hard to imagine the American people taking great offense. If Bush used warrantless wiretaps against, say, John Kerry or MoveOn.org, he'd probably be impeached even by a Republican Congress. But being a zealous protector of the American people against a new, shadowy enemy who uses our openness and technology against us? That's what we elect presidents for in the first place.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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