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Impeachment is moving inexorably into the mainstream.
On Saturday, April 28, people across the nation rallied to spell out the word “Impeach” with their bodies, from coast to coast. Most of their efforts went unreported in the nation’s complicit, propaganda-organ-like corporate media, but the effects of the effort were still felt.
Earlier in the week, the Democratic Party convention in California (the largest state Democratic party organization in the nation) voted overwhelmingly to call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Also that week, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), filed a bill of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney.
A day after the national demonstrations, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), speaking on the CBS News program Face the Nation, told host Bob Schieffer that impeachment is “one of the ways Congress has to influence the president.”
The comment so shocked Schieffer, that he immediately homed in on it asking, “Are you seriously talking about contemplating an impeachment of this president?”
Murtha did not back off, and responded, “I’m just saying that’s one way to influence the president.”
As Bob Fertik, a leader of the national impeachment movement, observes, “It is no accident that Murtha used the `I’ word: he wanted to send a shot across Bush’s bow that he’d better start negotiating (on Iraq troop funding) or else.” Fertik adds, “And Murtha must have cleared his comments with Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi before his appearance, so one can safely conclude that impeachment is back “on the table” where it belongs.
For too long, Congressional Democratic leaders have been blocking impeachment, beginning with Pelosi’s pre-election vow that if Democrats took control of Congress impeachment would be “off the table.” The public explanations for this position have never made any sense, and indeed have been specious: the claim that impeaching Bush would mean Cheney would become president is ludicrous (what Republican would want to have the monumentally unpopular Cheney at the head of the GOP heading into the 2008 elections?); the claim that Democrats had an important agenda of bills to pass is preposterous, given their slim margins of control in both houses, the promise of presidential vetoes, and the president’s hyperactive use of “signing statements” to illegally kill laws enacted by Congress; and the claim that impeachment would be “divisive” is bogus, because it is the administration and the Republicans in Congress who have been divisive for the past six years.
In fact, the real reason the Democratic leadership has been running from impeachment is that party leaders think they are better off letting this increasingly unpopular administration continue to foul up domestically and especially in Iraq. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), actually at one point publicly stated that it would be “good” for Democrats if the Iraq War continued into November 2008. This heartless Machiavellian thinking may or may not be strategically valid (I suspect it’s not correct), but it is certainly a betrayal of the American people who voted Democrats into control last November, and is certainly a betrayal of the troops who are fighting and dying in Iraq every day.
It appears, from Murtha’s comment about impeachment, that leading Democrats in Congress are starting to realize that the public is way ahead of them, and is growing frustrated and angry at Democratic pussyfooting.
Americans don’t want symbolic action by Democrats on ending the war. They want the troops brought home–now. They don’t want tangential investigations by Congress into the political firing of federal prosecutors, or into the faked documents alleging that Iraq was buying uranium ore from Niger, They want impeachment bills against President Bush, and the convening of impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee to defend a Constitution that has been vitiated by six years of Bush administration crimes, abuses of power and blatant undermining of the Bill of Rights.
Rep. Murtha should be swamped with emails and calls congratulating him for recognizing this, and for putting impeachment back on the agenda (call 202-25-2065).
The impeachment movement, which is just getting going, needs to keep the pressure on Congress and the media.
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