Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination that the mainstream media like to ignore or belittle, stands head and shoulders above the moral midgets and shriveled sophists in that contest, especially today, after he successfully forced the full House to vote to send his bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney to a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
Kucinich, whose Cheney impeachment bill, despite having 22 co-sponsors, has been stalled for over six months thanks to the unconscionable machinations of the Democratic Congressional leadership and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, should now get at least a genuine debate in the House Judiciary Committee. With enough pressure from constituents, his bill might even go into hearings.
At first, it appeared that the Democratic leadership in the House was going to simply slap down Kucinich’s attempt to move the bill—technically a member’s privilege motion for a full vote of the House. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House majority leader and thus the number two member of the House leadership (and an insufferable hack), offered a motion to table H Res. 799, the impeachment bill. But Republicans, sensing an opportunity to embarrass the Democrats, began voting as a block against the tabling motion. In the end, caught completely off guard, even Democrats who had dutifully backed the shameless leadership in voting for the tabling motion, began switching their votes and opposing it. The final vote was 242 (164 Republicans and 78 Democrats) against tabling, and 170 (28 Republicans and 142 Democrats) for tabling.
A subsequent vote to send the Kucinich Cheney impeachment bill to the Judiciary Committee passed 218-194, with three Republicans voting with 215 Democrats in favor of the measure.
Republicans clearly don’t want impeachment hearings, but have recognized something that the Democratic leadership, lame and tactically deficient as it is, does not, namely that particularly among Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning voters, impeachment is enormously popular. According to polls, some three in four Democrats, and a majority of all Americans, favor impeaching the vice president (a majority of Americans also favor impeaching President Bush). As long as the Democratic Party leaders keep blocking impeachment, they lose support and anger voters among this group. Clearly Republicans saw a chance today to further alienate those voters by forcing the Congressional Democratic leadership, which has stalled Kucinich’s bill for over six months since it was filed last April 24, to more actively and visibly block it.
But Democratic leaders have an alternative. They can recognize the growing disaster of Pelosi’s “impeachment is off the table” position—which has contributed significantly to Congress’ record-low poll ratings (now well below Bush’s)--and can turn around and get those impeachment hearings going.
If they were to do this, with just a year to go until the presidential election, they would electrify progressive voters and independent-minded voters, who are frightened and disgusted by what this administration has been doing to the country and to the Constitution.
I was just at a polling station today in my Republican-leaning area (Montgomery County, PA), and when a Republican activist standing outside the polling center saw my “Impeach Bush and Cheney” T-shirt, he said, “It would be great for Republicans too, if they could dump both those guys.”
Clearly, the public, even including many Republicans, wants Congress to act.
Rep. Kucinich, who has been a consistent and bold opponent of the Iraq War from the start, and who was quick to expose and condemn administration moves towards a new war with Iran, deserves enormous credit for his lonely drive in the House to impeach the vice president. Maybe this bold move in Congress to push past the obstacles that the Democratic leadership has thrown up in his path will wake up primary voters to the fact that you cannot judge a candidate by his height.
If voters in the Democratic primaries make their decisions based upon actions, principles and courage, instead of on what the corporate media tell them, and if the impeachment movement will rally to back him, Kucinich should win by a landslide.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net