The crocuses are up and the forsythia is starting to flower in my yard–a sure sign of spring. And on the corporate media front, suddenly we’re reading about Sen. Russ Feingold’s censure resolution against President Bush –a clear sign that the freezeout on talk of impeachment is starting to thaw, too.
Recall that when Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) filed a similar censure motion in the House last December–two actually, one against Bush and one against Vice President Cheney–it was virtually blacked out by the media, including the New York Times and Washington Post. Now, belatedly, the Times is mentioning the still languishing Conyers censure resolution–and his companion bill calling for a select committee to investigate possible impeachable crimes–in the article on Feingold’s censure motion.
It’s all an indication that impeachment–mocked as a “left-wing fantasy” as recently as last fall–is becoming an increasingly mainstream notion.
And why not? After all, several polls over the last six months have disclosed that a majority of Americans favors impeachment to remove Bush from office on the basis of his serial assaults on the Constitution, most notably his lying to get the country into a war in Iraq, and his violation of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act.
There are, to be sure, major roadblocks ahead. The Republicans who control House and Senate are doing their best to tamp down the mounting administration scandals. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has blocked any effort to seriously investigate Bush’s illegal National Security Agency wiretapping activities, with the help of not just Republicans, but also acquiescent Democrats on the panel.
If Roberts gets his way–which is by no means certain at this point–Bush’s FISA crimes would be made retroactively legal, and allowed to go ahead into the future, essentially rendering the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure an artifact for study by bored highschool history students.
The latest censure motion by Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, while seemingly quixotic given Republican control of the Senate, is actually a clever counterattack against Roberts’ treasonous maneuver. It will put Americans on notice that an ongoing crime against the Constitution is being willfully committed by the president, and that the Republican leadership is aiding and abetting that crime. Even if Feingold’s censure motion goes nowhere, it sets the stage for the public to respond in November to this betrayal of their birthright.
Remember, back in the early days of Watergate, Republicans in the Congress rallied solidly in an effort to block any move towards impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon. The media, too, initially backed the president. Gradually, as the extent of his crimes became more apparent, at least some Republicans abandoned Nixon. The media, too, came around, once weak-kneed editors determined that it was safe to take a stand.
Of course, the success of Feingold’s maneuver depends upon the public’s paying attention, and acting on its concerns about administration crimes this November. That’s when voters must oust enough Republicans from the House and Senate to give impeachment a fighting chance. It should be mentioned here that Feingold–a progressive senator in the mold of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota–has a personal agenda: he wants to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008. Since he’s not in the media-anointed “front-runner” pool that includes such tired Democratic Leadership Council hacks and Clinton clones as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York), Bill Richardson (governor of New Mexico) and former vice president Al Gore, and since his positions on major issues, from opposing the Iraq War and the Patriot Act to opposing NAFTA, challenge the two-party consensus of what is “acceptable debate,” Feingold needs something that will make him stand out, and that will grab headlines. This is exactly what Howard Dean did when, as a no-count governor from Vermont, he started opposing the Iraq War in 2004. For Feingold, it’s impeachment.
Well, all to the good. He deserves to stand out. Feingold is saying what a majority of Americans are thinking: this president must not be allowed to continue thumbing his nose at the Constitution.
Sen. Feingold’s censure motion is one more step on the road to an impeachment motion in the House.
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