Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out list of political shortcomings he sees in the Bush administration but said he opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.
Obama said he would not back such a move, although he has been distressed by the "loose ethical standards, the secrecy and incompetence" of a "variety of characters" in the administration.
"There's a way to bring an end to those practices, you know: vote the bums out," the presidential candidate said, without naming Bush or Cheney. "That's how our system is designed."
The term for Bush and Cheney ends on Jan. 20, 2009. Bush cannot constitutionally run for a third term, and Cheney has said he will not run to succeed Bush.
Obama, a Harvard law school graduate and former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said impeachment should not be used as a standard political tool.
"I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president's authority," he said.
"I believe if we began impeachment proceedings we will be engulfed in more of the politics that has made Washington dysfunction," he added. "We would once again, rather than attending to the people's business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, nonstop circus."
Obama, son of a Kenyan father and American mother, spoke at a weekly constituent breakfast he sponsors with Illinois' other senator, Dick Durbin. He was asked about impeachment.