It took 10 weeks for the House Judiciary Committee to vote to impeach Richard Nixon, and decades later, seven weeks for Bill Clinton.
But it took the Illinois House just three weeks (with time off for Christmas and New Year's) to vote out articles of impeachment for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and the full House impeached him after a zippy ninety minutes of debate. Pretty good -- but I think we can do even better.
The popular One-Minute Manager books explain how to achieve "the gift" of getting results in less time. The three principles of the One-Minute Manager can be adapted to streamline previously drawn-out constitutional processes like impeachment.
1) One-minute goals. The One-Minute Manager says to write out goals on a single sheet of paper or index card. But even the lean, mean Illinois House spent 78 pages on its final report on impeachment, including 47 pages of "evidence," 150 "exhibits" and 61 footnotes. This excessive level of detail could have been eliminated with a simple card reading "Blago -- we don't like his haircut."
2) One-minute praisings. Immediate, specific and widely shared praisings, followed by a minute of silence to let workers "enjoy" feeling how good their boss feels, is key to worker development. The same techniques can be applied to impeachment. Say, for example, wiretaps or secretly recorded tapes reveal a criminal conspiracy or unbelievable stupidity. Make sure you take time to tell the U.S. Attorney what a good job he's doing and encourage news organizations to write flattering stories comparing him to Eliot Ness.
3) One-minute reprimands. If people do not perform well, hold them accountable, go back to goal-setting and tell people exactly how you feel about what they did wrong. If you are dealing with a U.S. President or Governor, you may use the press to communicate these feelings. Practice sound-bites for cable news networks and if you are named in a criminal complaint as "Senate Candidate 5" get a good lawyer.
The application of the above principles can shave months off of a time-consuming legislative or judicial process and boot out unsavory officeholders in less time than it takes to fill an 18 and 1/2 minute gap. Evidence? Witnesses? Judicial standards? Who needs 'em! As the Red Queen said in Alice in Wonderland, "Sentence first -- verdict afterward."
(Author's Note: The above should in no way be interpreted as a defense of Rod Blagojevich. He's a slimeball. But as offensive as he may be, he has not been indicted, tried or convicted in a court of law. Didn't someone say something once about "innocent until proven guilty?")