By David Swanson
The Washington Post today published an article by Michael Tomasky called “The Dumbest Move the Dems Could Make.” With a lot of publications, this article itself would have been the dumbest thing they’d ever printed. Of course, we’re talking about the Washington Post, a newspaper that cheered in hundreds of articles and columns and editorials for a cakewalk in Iraq. Still, this was the single dumbest thing the Post could possibly have printed at this time.
The Democrats in Congress, already less popular than the least popular president in history, have just rolled over and legalized his illegal spying. That’s the only way they can “get things done.” They can pass bills that should not be passed. Any useful bills have been and will be vetoed. So, the Democrats have two options left to them. First, they can announce that there will be no more bills to fund the occupation of Iraq. Second, they can impeach Bush and Cheney. Impeachment would force Republicans to defend Bush and Cheney for the next year and a half, which ought to be deadly to any politician. In fact, if enough Republicans recognize that, a conviction in the Senate will be possible. But the point is to impeach in the House, to put Bush and Cheney on the defensive, and to pass bills at the same time with an increased chance of them actually becoming law.
Tomasky’s claim, of course, is that impeachment would be the dumbest move the Democrats could make. By standing up for 54% of Americans and 76% of Democrats, Congressional leaders would, according to Tomasky, somehow hurt themselves. Tomasky makes no mention of the people who would die in Iraq and as a result of other Bush-Cheney policies while the Democrats wisely refrained from impeaching. Nor does he recall the last time they listened to arguments identical to his, when they took the impeachment of Ronald Reagan off the table. A pack of criminals got off easy, and the Democrats LOST the elections. Nor is there any mention of Richard Nixon, who was more popular than Bush and Cheney are, but whose popularity did not get any boost from Congress’s efforts to impeach him. In fact, the Democrats won the biggest victories in recent memory (well, apparently not recent enough for Tomasky).
Based on absolutely no evidence or anecdote of any sort, Tomasky simply asserts, as the Republican National Committee and Nancy Pelosi both initially did 14 months ago, that impeachment would “convert Bush from the figure of contempt and mockery he is now into one of vague sympathy.” Sympathy? People disapprove of Bush and Cheney in record numbers because they view them as criminals. Getting tough on crimes rarely creates sympathy for the criminals in the hearts of Americans.
“Just as bad,” says Tomasky, “it’s the one move that would definitively alienate nonideological voters and, therefore, harm the Democrats’ otherwise excellent chances for winning congressional seats and the White House in 2008.” Definitively? Clearly “definitively” should not be confused with “based on at least a shred of evidence.” Fewer than 5% of voters in 2004 ever planned to vote for Bush or Kerry and switched to the other. Isn’t a candidate’s relationship to the much greater number of voters who support their party going to prove much more important than how they play to that 5 percent?
But listen to this bit of fantasy from Tomasky: “One of the Democrats’ strongest arguments for 2008, regardless of their nominee, will be that it’s time for the country to set aside rampant partisanship and ideologically driven government. Impeachment would take away that argument.”
The fact that it didn’t work out this way for the Republicans after they impeached Clinton (they hung onto both houses and the White House) is something Tomasky dismisses by simply claiming that Republicans are different. But so would be a Democratic Party that finally stood up on its hind legs and impeached.
The Democrats’ strongest arguments will not include a promise to end partisanship, which most Democratic voters don’t give a rat’s ass about. The Dems strongest arguments will derive from whatever they do in the next year and a half to develop partisanship, to distinguish their party from the other one. Their strongest criticisms of the Republicans will include Bush and Cheney’s numerous crimes and abuses. Accusing people who are guilty of routine law-breaking, lying, detaining, torturing, and murdering, of “partisanship” misses the mark widely.
Tomasky claims to believe that impeachment would “pull the country apart.” Unlike, say, launching an unpopular illegal aggressive war on the basis of lies, jettisoning the Bill of Rights, and transferring massive wealth from the rest of us to the filthy rich? Anyone who believes this country is united, and united with the least popular president on record, had better acquire and keep a regular job with the Washington Post. Impeaching Nixon ended a crisis and healed a nation. As John Nichols says, calling impeachment a constitutional crisis is like calling aspirin a headache crisis.
What would Tomasky have Congress do instead of impeaching? Well, he says, “There are plenty of ways to hold the administration accountable that don’t carry so high a price. Last I looked, Democrats were doing a pretty aggressive job of it. According to Pelosi’s office, 13 high-ranking administration officials have resigned rather than face genuine congressional oversight.”
So, that’s the plan? Get subordinates to resign? What about all the subordinates, resigned and otherwise, who have refused to comply with subpoenas? Have they been held accountable? Has Bush? Has Cheney? These are serious questions, Mr. Tomasky, ones you should try to come up with an answer for out of your own head, rather than running to Pelosi to find out what the official line is.
Pelosi tends to feed her view of the world to astroturf groups like Daily Kos that do her bidding. But any group with enough people in it, is pro-impeachment whether permitted to be or not. Even the Washington Post reports that the high point of Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s speech today at the Yearly Kos convention was this: “‘With respect to Dick Cheney he should be impeached for lying.’ ‘Nuff said. In this audience Kucinich couldn’t have scored better if he announced he was handing out $100 bills after the forum.”
Impeachment is on the table outside the beltway, as even Tomasky admits. But, as the Washington Post has never reported and probably never will, impeachment is also alive and well in Congress. Forty-three Congress Members now stand in one manner or another for impeachment.
Seventeen have signed on as cosponsors of H. Res. 333, a bill proposing articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney. H Res 333 cosponsors include, Dennis Kucinich, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, Keith Ellison, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Albert Wynn, William Lacy Clay, Yvette Clarke, Jim McDermott, Jim Moran, Bob Filner, Sam Farr, Robert Brady, Tammy Baldwin, and Donald Payne.
Twenty-seven have signed onto H Res. 589, a bill proposing the impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The cosponsors are Jay Inslee, Xavier Becerra, Michael Arcuri, Ben Chandler, Dennis Moore, Bruce Braley, Tom Udall, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Hank Johnson, Steve Cohen, Keith Ellison, David Wu, Yvette Clarke, Darlene Hooley, Betty McCollum, Timothy Bishop, Barney Frank, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Perlmutter, Tammy Baldwin, Shelley Berkley, Raul Grijalva, Ed Pastor, Ellen Tauscher, Rush Holt, and Jim McGovern.
Only Johnson, Ellison, Clarke, and Baldwin have signed onto both bills. (17 + 27 -4 = 40)
Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. and Maurice Hinchey have recently said that they support the impeachment of Cheney and Bush, but have not yet signed onto any bills. (40 + 2 = 42)
Other Congress Members have said privately that they favor impeachment but not these bills, even that they would only support impeachment if it included Bush. The lack of cross-over support between the two existing bills is an indication of the importance of petty personal politics within Congress, and the extent to which Congress Members will sign onto a bill based on who the sponsor and cosponsors are and who asks them, and whether anyone asks them, to sign on.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has opposed impeachment since May 2006, but this week said that if she were not the Speaker she would probably be backing impeachment, and that impeachment of Gonzales is clearly merited. (42 + 1 = 43)
And here’s some breaking news from YearlyKos about Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), a very progressive freshman who serves on the crucial Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Cohen could not get to Chicago but he sent a spokesman who announced, as reported by Bob Fertik:
Rep. Cohen is leaning strongly towards joining Rep. Kucinich’s bill to impeach Cheney. Congress needs hearings, but so much evidence has already been produced, and there is so much obstructionism from the administration. Congress does not have to wait months for procedural decisions to come down from the Supreme Court. If Congress can’t get to the root of the matter right quick it could be brought to a vote. All they need is a majority in the House.
Well, that and the wisdom not to believe really really dumb things.