Influential Editor Tanenhaus: Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 'Committed Impeachable Offenses Probably'

The Times' Week in Review and Sunday Book editor again goes on the PBS talk show Charlie Rose to again declare conservatism dead, with a new twist: Reagan and George W. Bush "probably" could have been impeached.

Did Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush "probably" commit "impeachable offenses"? That's what influential Times editor Sam Tanenhaus thinks.

On Wednesday night, the influential editor of both the "New York Times Book Review" and the "Weekend Review" sections again appeared on Charlie Rose's late night PBS chat show to discuss his no-longer-new book "The Death of Conservatism."

Times Watch found Tanenhaus's slim essay of a book intellectually dishonest, not so much declaring the movement dead as trying to define it out of existence by blurring the meaning of "conservatism" to mean the preserving of liberal government interventions.

Tanenhaus made his assertion three minutes into the interview while discussing limits on presidential power:

Another great conservative philosopher I write about is James Burnham, another mentor to Buckley. And he was one of the first strong critics of what he saw as, called it "Caesarism," the presidency that grows so overweening in its power that it violates the strength of the other branches. It was conservatives who first made that criticism. But then once their own politicians got in office, they reversed course. With Nixon, with Reagan, and with George W. Bush - decided there should be no constraints on the presidency at all. And we had three presidents in those three instances - Nixon, Reagan, and Bush - who committed impeachable offenses probably. And we had Democratic presidents who seemed to understand the limitations of power, and we had moderate Republicans who understood that - Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower, the elder Bush.

Tanenhaus skipped a Democratic president who actually was impeached: Bill Clinton.