The prevailing “wisdom” of our corporate media is that impeachment of President Bush is a left-wing fantasy. As a result, there is virtually no coverage in the media of either the majority sentiment for removing Bush from office or even of the key issues that make this president a poster child for impeachment.
Take the several polls by Zogby International on the impeachment issue. Last June, Zogby polled Americans across the country and found that some 42 percent favored impeaching the president if it were found that he had lied about the threat posed by Iraq in order to justify an invasion. That is a higher percentage of people in favor of impeachment than there ever was for the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton during his entire impeachment ordeal. Yet the poll was not mentioned by any major media news organization.
In November, Zogby repeated the poll. This time, 53 percent of respondents from all over the nation said they thought the president should be impeached and removed from office if he lied about the war. That poll to was totally blacked out.
A third poll early this year found 52 percent of Americans saying Bush should be removed from office if he broke the law and had the National Security Agency spy on American citizens without court warrants. Well, of course he did do that-the president has admitted he did so and says he will continue to do it–so the latest poll was really saying that 52 percent of Americans think he should be sent packing.
That poll too was largely ignored by the major corporate media.
Left-wing fantasy? Are we saying that the majority of Americans are left-wingers?
I don’t think so.
But the media are not the only ones who are trying to dismiss popular sentiment for impeachment.
The leadership of the Democratic Party is doing the same thing.
While researching our book on impeachment (The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing George W. Bush from Office, St. Martin’s Press, due out in late April), my co-author Barbara Olshanshky and I have found that members of Congress-even firebrands like Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA)-have been strong-armed behind the scenes by the Democratic National Committee not to introduce an impeachment bill in the House. Rep. John Conyers, the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, where such a bill would be considered, has submitted three bills that relate to impeachment-a proposal for a special committee to investigate possible impeachable crimes by the administration and bills to censure both the president and the vice president for refusing to answer questions from Congress on impeachment-related issues–but that’s as far as the Democratic congressional leadership is willing to go.
As the Wall Streeet Journal reported in a March 6 article on the impeachment issue, Democratic Party leaders fear that party support for impeachment could lead to a backlash as happened to Republicans who supported Clinton’s impeachment.
This is of course nonsense. The effort to impeach Clinton over his sexual escapades was always viewed by the majority of Americans, Democratic and Republican alike, as a farce and an embarrassment. As the Wall Street Journal notes, support for Clinton’s impeachment never rose much above a quarter of the electorate–the hard right element of the Republican Party.
The issues that are driving popular sentiment for Bush’s impeachment are much more serious:
* The conspiracy of lies that got the country into a war in Iraq that has already cost some $400 billion and that ultimately may end up costing over $2 trillion, and that has cost the lives of 2300 Americans and over 100,000 Iraqis.
* Obstruction of investigations into what the administration knew about the 9-11 attacks before they happened, and why nothing was done to prevent them.
* Undermining of basic Constitutional freedoms, from First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, press and religion to Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure and Sixth Amendment rights to a fair trial, to the even more basic rights of citizenship.
* Abuses of power, including the blatant violation of the law in the case of the president’s violation of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, the use of over 500 “signing statements” to simply ignore laws passed by Congress, and the ignoring of court orders, as well as the use of government power to attack individuals, as in the case of the outing of underecover CIA agent Valerie Plame in order to punish her whistle-blowing husband, ambassador Joe Wilson.
* Trampling of international law through the authorization of policies of torture of captives and the rounding up and deporting of law-abiding residents based solely upon their ethnicity and religion, all of which have made America a pariah in the international community and needlessly inflamed hatred of America across the Muslim world.
* A criminally negligent attitude towards governing that has brought us the disaster and needless death of hundreds of people in New Orleans, the fiasco of the Medicare drug “program” for seniors, and the chaos of post-war Iraq.
* A criminal know-nothing obstructionism with regard to the urgent crisis of global warming, which even the Pentagon has concluded threatens the national security of the United States far more than any rag-tag band of terrorists.
* A culture of corruption in Washington that makes earlier epic scandals like Teapot Dome look penny-ante, with over 60 Republican members of Congress (that’s better than one in four!) linked to just one bribing lobbyist and with war-profiteering by Republican-linked corporations running rampant.
These are all issues that cry out for action, and for saturation coverage in the nation’s media.
The polls showing majority support for impeachment make it clear that the public knows all this intuitively, even though people have to get their information from personal observation, from the Internet, or by reading between the lines, because the media are more focused on the Oscars and the latest dramatic murder or kidnapping, and even though the supposed opposition party, for the most part, is afraid of its own shadow.
The prevailing wisdom is that all such talk about impeachment is fantasy, and yet out in the country, some candidates are finding that calling for impeachment brings down the house.
If those candidacies catch fire, and pro-impeachment candidates backed by groups like ImpeachPAC start winning Democratic primaries in late spring, and if those candidates go on to win seats in Congress in November, I am predicting that their spineless colleagues will realize that the public wants action on all these issues, not just business as usual.
With the American public so on edge about so many issues, it might, in the end, not take that many radical upsets in November to create a whole new mood in Congress.
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. Lindorff’s new book, “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is due out May 1.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org