Impeachment on a Roll
Down the shore yesterday, as we say in Philly, I was body surfing in the Atlantic and it got me to thinking.
On the East Coast, where the prevailing winds are offshore, the surf tends to be pretty tame, and Thursday was no exception, with the biggest waves cresting at perhaps three feet. Nonetheless, these little combers were able to send my prone body racing 100 feet toward the beach at a good clip.
There’s a lot of energy packed in even a small wave.
Just so with impeachment, where a wave is slowly building for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Since Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) filed his impeachment bill against Cheney back April 24, five other members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors, most recently Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She joins Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL and chief deputy whip of the House), William Lacy Clay (D-IL) and Albert Wynn (D-MD) as co-sponsors of H. Res. 333.
Flash Update! Just to make the point about how this wave is building, shortly after I filed this piece, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), another co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, signed on as a co-sponsor of H.Res. 333. Cheney has to be starting to sweat…
Kucinich’s bill is narrowly focused on Cheney’s criminal role in lying the nation into an illegal invasion of Iraq, and on his illegal threat to launch an unprovoked attack on Iran.
The wave that is building in the House for impeachment of this criminal administration may seem small, but it is definitely building. As each new representative signs on to H. Res. 333 as a co-sponsor, others gain courage and find it easier to buck the "leadership" of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi et al.
It seems likely that as the magnitude of that wave grows, some members will add to the list of Cheney’s crimes with their own additional impeachment bills. After all, Cheney was clearly behind the illegal outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, was involved in the politicization of the Justice Department, and is now known to have been involved in the illegal, warrantless wiretapping and internet monitoring of American citizens by the National Security Agency.
At some point, there will surely be a second wave, which will begin with a member impeachment bill against President Bush.
Evidence that Pelosi is losing her footing is coming in many forms.
There’s the impeachment resolution passed late last month by the Detroit City Council. Now there have been nearly 100 such resolutions passed around the country, but this one stands out because it was introduced by Council President Monica Conyers, who happens to be the wife of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which would be where any impeachment hearing would be conducted. Conyers was once a leading advocate of the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, but buckled when Pelosi threatened to deny him the coveted chair of the Judiciary Committee. Clearly, his wife thinks he shouldn’t have caved, and Conyers is showing signs of wanting action on impeachment. He has lately taken to encouraging the actions of impeachment activists.
There are also the many resolutions calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney which have been passed, often overwhelmingly, by state Democratic Parties, including those in California, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
Finally, there are the statements from Democratic politicians, who are looking increasingly ridiculous in their efforts to avoid talking impeachment. Take Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Nadler, back in 2006, was a member of the group of 39 House members in the 109th Congress who signed on to Rep. Conyers’ then bill calling for a select committee to investigate impeachable crimes by the administration (that bill died with the end of the 109th Congress).
Recently, Nadler, who sat on the impeachment panel during the Clinton impeachment farce, and who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, declared in a recent radio interview that "there’s a prima facie case" that the president and the attorney general "engaged in a criminal conspiracy." He went on to say that when the executive branch is "contemptuous of the power of Congress" and breaks or ignores the law, then "you have to use whatever weapons the Constitution gives Congress."
Now Nadler is no dummy. He knows that the main "tool" that the Constitution gives to Congress to combat such presidential lawlessness and abuse of power is impeachment.
Nadler’s constituency in Manhattan isn’t stupid either. They know that the president has been committing impeachable crimes, and that the remedy is impeachment. The same is true of Rep. Conyers’ constituents.
It seems only a matter of time before these leaders, and others like them, are going to have to take a stand and buck Pelosi and the sell-out Democratic leadership that is trying to adopt a do-nothing strategy ahead of the 2008 elections.
One thing you can say about waves–even small ones–and that is that they are pretty much unstoppable. Another thing you can say is that they wear down resistance–especially when the resistance is insubstantial. A third thing is that they are never alone. They keep on coming, one after another after another.
I’m betting that we’re going to see Pelosi and her anti-impeachment position swamped by the power of public pressure, and by the actions of those members of Congress who take the views of their constituents seriously.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org