“Once his crimes are laid out on national television, he’ll be thrown overboard by his own party, or, like Nixon, he’ll strike a deal to leave office,” predicted Lindorff, who was in the Charleston area Monday to speak at West Virginia State University.
Lindorff, a former Los Angeles Daily News reporter and the former China correspondent for Businessweek, has written for The Nation, Rolling Stone, Forbes and Salon, in addition to producing an online column at www.thiscantbehap
pening.net. Last year, the two-time Fulbright scholar co-authored “The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush,” produced by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press.
In an interview preceding his appearance at State, Lindorff said he considers himself generally pessimistic about the odds of a Bush impeachment trial taking place, given the hands-off stance taken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic leaders.
“The congressional leadership is moving very slow at this point,” he said. “But things tend to move fast in Congress once they do move, so I can’t say, no, it won’t happen. Eleven states are considering impeachment resolutions now, and a Newsweek poll last October showed that 53 percent of the American public favor impeachment.”
Despite growing grassroots support for impeachment, “Nancy Pelosi and the leading Democrats are following a very cynical strategy,” Lindorff said. “Their position is that since this administration is screwing up so badly, and since the Democrats can’t pass anything of consequence with the narrow margin they now have, they’ll win a bigger margin in both houses next election by doing nothing.”
While that tactic could pay off for the Democrats in terms of gaining power, “Congress has an obligation to check the abuse of presidential power,” Lindorff said. “They have to show that no one is above the law.”
Grounds for impeachment cited by Lindorff include:
# Using fabricated information to bring the nation to war against Iraq.
# Making it possible to arrest and detain without charge American citizens, denying them the constitutional right to due process and speedy public trials.
# Violating international treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, to allow torture to be used on military and civilian detainees suspected of participating in terrorism.
# Ignoring or violating acts of Congress by issuing hundreds of presidential “signing statements,” which allowed Bush to interpret laws his own way.
# Authorizing secret warrantless spying on thousands of American citizens by the National Security Agency.
Lindorff said fears that Dick Cheney would become president should Bush be removed from office before his term is complete are unfounded.
“We wouldn’t be stuck with Cheney,” he said. “He’s so complicit in most of the bigger crimes, like NSA spying, that he’d be indicted or forced to resign. And the Republicans would rather die than have Cheney leading their party.”
But even if impeachment proceedings would not lead directly to Bush’s removal, they would be worthwhile, Lindorff said.
“Ben Franklin said it was the impeachment process that was important, not just removing someone from office,” he said. “Impeachment is a political process addressing political crime. And everyone is supposed to be equal under the law.”
During former President Bill Clinton’s low ebb in approval ratings following the Monica Lewinsky affair, “the highest percentage of the public calling for his impeachment was 36 percent,” about 15 percent less than the percentage of the public now favoring Bush’s impeachment, Lindorff said.
“It stuns me that Congress has not impeached Bush already,” he said.
Lindorff is a musician and folksinger. Prior to his lecture on Monday, he was scheduled to perform with area musicians Ron Sowell, John Lilly and Bill Holstein.