Thinking About Impeachment


There is little doubt that the even if the Bush administration doesn’t go down in flames, it will go down in history as one of, if not the most incompetent, corrupt and dangerous presidencies in the history of the republic.

The question is, with crimes so colossal, why isn’t there a public demand for his impeachment?

In fact, there is a powerful and growing popular sentiment for impeachment–we just don’t hear about it. The Zogby organization, the only polling outfit to have posed the question to date, found last June that 42 percent of Americans felt Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war (a much larger percentage believe he lied). That, of course, was before the mainstream media began finally reporting, as a result of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Plamegate, on the disinformation campaign for war against Iraq directed by Vice President Dick Cheney and the White House Iraq Group. It was also before Bush himself was found to have been in on the cover-up of the outing of Valerie Plame by Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and presidential advisor Karl Rove. It was also before the US death toll in Iraq topped 2000.

Significantly, it was also before Bush’s callous and inept performance following the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, which has driven his approval rating down to the size of his hard-core conservative base.

It’s a safe bet that the percentage in favor of impeachment of this liar and joke of a president today would be a lot higher than Zogby found it to be in June–a figure, incidentally, which is higher than it ever was during the entire impeachment saga of President Bill Clinton in 1998/9, when the issue was, not an illegal war but an adulterous blow job.

The question now is why Congressional Democrats aren’t calling for Cheney’s and Bush’s impeachment. So far, not one member of the minority party in Senate or House has made that call. Not one Democratic member of the House has tried to introduce a bill of impeachment in the House.

The argument being made by even more progressive members of Congress like Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) is that there is no way, with a Republican majority in both houses, that impeachment could happen, and that pursuing that goal would simply make them look like “radicals.”

Being radical, however, is exactly what is called for today, and fear of that appellation is why the Democratic Party is on such a sustained loosing streak.

I remember back in the late 1960s, when I used to have hair (long), hitchhiking and sometimes driving cross-country through the vast Midwest, West and Southeast, and seeing big billboards calling for the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren. Those signs, funded by right-wing Republican groups, seemed Quixotic at the time. With Democrats firmly in control of both houses of Congress, there wasn’t a chance in hell of Justice Warren’s getting put in the dock. But that seemingly pointless campaign had a tremendous impact on rallying conservatives to the Republican cause, and contributed mightily to the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, and to the election of Ronald Reagan a decade later.

An impeachment campaign aimed at Bush could have the same impact, only much faster. With the interminable war in Iraq getting worse and worse and less and less popular, with the economy wobbly, and with state and local governments struggling because of federal cutbacks in all kinds of programs from education to Medicaid, impeachment could become a campaign rallying cry in the 2006 off-year Congressional elections, when every member of the House and every third member of the Senate must face the voters.

It is time for progressives in the House to forget about propriety, to forget about calculation, and to remember what being a progressive is supposed to mean. The spirit of Paul Wellstone, the late and sorely missed senator from Minnesota, who would surely be calling for Bush’s head today, needs to be resurrected in the House Progressive Caucus, if it is to continue using that name.

I for one will be pushing this argument in a book on impeaching Bush which I am currently working on, with Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights, for St. Martin’s Press, (due out this spring).

Fitzgerald’s investigation is a welcome blow against the creeping fascism of this most deceitful, manipulative and corrupt regime, but a special prosecutor can only go so far. Progressive forces need to focus now on wresting back the initiative and drumming Republicans out of House and Senate in 2006–no easy task.

A good start would be a concerted impeachment campaign, aimed at tying down the Bush administration with hearings and investigations so it can do no more damage to nation and globe.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com





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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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