Long famous for their moonlight and their maple syrup, Vermonters are now winning praise for citizenship. Voters in two Vermont towns have called for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against the Constitution. They've asked police to arrest Bush and Cheney should they visit Brattleboro or Marlboro.
Around the country, the immediate reaction to the news has been “Way to go, Vermont!” Patriotism is not dead. But we're obliged to inject a cautionary note. Remember the excesses that were perpetrated against President Bill Clinton, the “offenses” manufactured by partisan extremists, the attempt by political vigilantes like Kenneth Starr and Asa Hutchinson to remove from office a worthy and democratically elected president. We don't want to go that route again, even conceding that Bush is hardly worthy and probably not democratically elected. (Certainly not the first time, when five members of the Supreme Court ordered his installation as president despite his receiving fewer votes than his opponent.)
For all his apparent malfeasance and misfeasance, Bush is still entitled to due process of law. Congress, not Vermont, is where he should be called to account for violation of the Constitution, and Vermont cannot legally incarcerate the president before the impeachment process is exhausted. If that means Bush will finish his term unpunished, so be it. Being a nation of laws is hard sometimes, and certainly Arkansas will share Vermont's disappointment. There might still be a way to get Cheney for shooting the guy on the quail hunt, though.
The Vermont initiative is wonderful symbolism, showing the world that Americans — finally — are onto Bush too. But it will have no practical effect on bringing Bush to justice. On the other hand, it won't do any harm, either. It's more benign than, say, a vote for Ralph Nader.
Time to unite
Red Wolves might not have been our first choice as a new name for the Arkansas state athletic teams, but now that it's official, Ich bin ein Red Wolf. (When we read the article about ASU trustees howling their votes, we pondered the possibility of calling the teams the Howlin' Wolves, after the legendary bluesman who spent a lot of time in East Arkansas. But Howlin' Wolf was functionally illiterate, perhaps not the best representative of a state university.) It still chafes that Arkansas State had to give up “Indians” while a big-time, big-money program at Florida State got to keep “Seminoles.” If FSU dares face ASU, the two teams could settle their differences on the field. As the original Seminoles and Red Wolves did.