February 16, 2008
I hate to be the nervous Nellie of the impeachment crowd but have we really thought this out thoroughly? Let me preface this by saying that I would love nothing more than to see Dick Cheney frog-walked out of the White House to pay for his many crimes against the American people. The same goes for his boss. The trail of impeachable offenses is long and offensive and makes the Clinton lynching pale in comparison. That said, I wish it was 2006 or 2007 and not the crucial election year of 2008. I never thought I would say it but given the likely way an impeachment would play out, aren’t there bigger fish to fry?
I can see the outrage in the responses already but bear with me. The number one priority this year has to be eliminating the stranglehold the GOP has held on the executive branch of government for the past eight years. The number one priority has to be ensuring that John McCain does not get four years to continue his 100-year plan in Iraq and to bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb Iran. Assuming that the progressive mindset agrees with this priority, as well as maintaining control of Congress, let’s examine the 600-pound gorilla in the room; the corporate media.
When I spoke with progressive activists who are pushing impeachment about this theory, I was greeted with the “what’s wrong with holding people accountable for violating their oaths of office and the constitution?” Nothing of course but the false assumption being made is that everyone who votes thinks the same way we do. The false assumption being made is that everyone gets their news from the Internet and alternate news sources. Sorry folks, they still do not. They still rely on the fixed news sources that infect mainstream corporate media. Remember, this is the same corporate media that is pimping the false angle that McCain is somehow moderate and reviled by the conservative base. So the big question is; how will impeachment proceedings be represented by the media and what effect might it have on the general election?
I think it is safe to project that any impeachment proceedings will be greeted with utter contempt by the corporate media. Forget what Fox News will do alone. They will run anti-democratic segments one after the other for the entire length of the proceedings. They will relate it as payback for the Clinton impeachment. They will rally the otherwise apathetic GOP voters to backlash against the democratic congress. Do not be lulled into the “Fox has no pull anymore” logic. There are still 30% of this country that support Bush and probably watch Fox. I believe the majority of them will be indifferent this voting season and will stay home, unless they are given a reason to come out to the polls. A lengthy impeachment process, which will probably not result in any conviction, is just such a reason.
Then there is the other 70% of the country. Right now the election will be focused on two things, the economy and the war. John McCain is painted into a corner that he cannot win from. He has sold out for the war and Bush to the point that there is virtually no way this country will vote him into office; especially if it is Obama as his opponent. Even though the country is sick of the do nothing democratic congress, they are clearly anti-war at this point. The way the election season is set to play out it will be the war and making the Bush tax cuts permanent versus ending the war and restoring some sense of fiscal sanity. That is a recipe for progressive goals being met on Election Day.
Now factor in a protracted impeachment process. It will certainly carry on well into and beyond the election. It will easily dominate the headlines and talk shows. It will be the lead story over the election and will in fact be morphed into the election. Do you think anyone besides Keith Olbermann will portray the impeachment fairly? What do you think Chris Matthews will say, night after night, on his softball program? What about Tucker and Scarborough? What about Hume and Hannity? What about the CNN talking heads? What about talk radio? Instead of concentrating on the election, we will be revisiting the sins of the administration that is already on the way out. It will be portrayed as sour grapes by the democrats. It will be portrayed as revenge for Clinton and forget about the damage if Hillary is the candidate. Granted; you and I may not care what is said in the corporate media but do not think for a second that the majority of the country feels the same way. They will be bathed in non-stop negative impeachment coverage instead of focusing on the most important election in decades.
It is a shame to have to even consider this side of impeachment. In a perfect world the only thing that should matter is the truth. The truth is that both Cheney and Bush deserve impeachment. Unfortunately, the truth is also that the media the majority of the country follows will not report the truth objectively. They have not for a decade now so there is no reason to believe they will all of sudden act in the best interest of the country. The truth is also that impeachment will dominate the public discourse instead of the clear choices the election holds this year. That would be a boon for the GOP. To have a discussion about something other than the war and the economy? To turn two reviled characters such as Bush and Cheney into sympathetic figures? Even if that doesn’t happen, it is not like they are running for anything. Lastly, what is the result that we truly seek? Do you really believe in the end of the drama that there will be a conviction? If you really believe that then you haven’t been paying attention over the past few years. The two parties protect each other when push comes to shove. They exist for the sole purpose of ensuring their continued control over this country. I seriously doubt that in the end, the frog-walk is going to happen anyway. But the result could be more damaging to what progressives truly seek this November; and end to the politics and crimes we sought the impeachment for to begin with.