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http://www.rollcall.com/issues/rothenberg/>will Democrats Resist What Republicans Couldn't in 1998?
December 5, 2005
By http://rothenbergpoliticalreport.blogspot.com/2005/09/stuart-rothenberg-bio.html>stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call Contributing Writer
So far, the Democratic establishment has wisely resisted the temptation to make personal attacks on the president or to respond to the call for President Bush 's impeachment emanating from the party 's vocal "progressive" wing.
First, let's note that the party's "progressive" wing would be more vocal about impeachment if the media had not instituted a near total blackout of the topic. Rothenberg's belief that the topic should be taboo is reflected in the nearly complete lack of coverage of it by the media (exceptions here).
This has extended to a refusal to poll the public on it and determine exactly how large the "progressive" wing is. The few polls that have been done, we at After Downing Street have had to pay for (most polling companies refuse to poll on impeachment even for money).
The most recent poll, from November, conducted by Zogby, found that 76% of Democrats believe that Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war. 50% of Independents and 29% of Republicans said the same. In all, by a decisive margin of 53% to 42%, Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq. That's quite a "progressive" wing.
By "personal attacks" Rothenberg no doubt means calling Bush a liar. But Bush's lies have been well documented. And a majority of Americans believe he lied about the war. Simply stating this fact out loud cannot be dismissed as "personal attacks."
But it could prove to be increasingly difficult for party leaders to keep their members in line as liberal Web loggers, anti-war lefties, Bush haters and grass-roots activists - all who believe that their party has failed to show backbone on the issue - turn up the heat and demand confrontation.
What a freakshow of categories of subversive miscreants Rothenberg has assembled! But wait a minute. Aren't grassroots activists simply citizens of a democracy doing what they're supposed to do? Isn't "anti-war lefties" a description, again, of the majority of Americans (unless Rothenberg has intentionally left out the anti-war righties)? And, as a liberal blogger, let me state for the record that I do not hate Bush. I've never met him and suspect he can be as amicable in person as members of the White House Palace Guard ... oops! ... I mean White House press corps say he is. But he has clearly taken our nation to war on the basis of lies, and http://www.impeachpac.org/?q=node/4>there can be no higher crime. Would Rothenberg dispute either of these points? He doesn't bother. Instead he maintains that the Constitutional provision of impeachment should be discarded for his perceived "good" of the Democratic Party.
Just last week, former radio talk show host Tony Trupiano was endorsed by ImpeachPAC, a new political action committee that endorses only Congressional candidates who "support the immediate and simultaneous impeachment of George Bush and [Vice President] Dick Cheney for their Iraq War lies. "
Trupiano, you may recall, was one of the Congressional challengers listed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as among its "strong candidates for change. " He is the likely Democratic nominee against Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) in a GOP-leaning district.
Perhaps by "strong," the DCCC did not mean the usual thing (blindly pro-military and supine towards Republicans). Perhaps dare we hope? they meant that he is likely to get elected because he's willing to express popular majority positions, even in the face of hostility from establishment hacks like Rothenberg.
Democratic strategists surely haven 't forgotten 1998, when Republicans were so rabidly anti-Bill Clinton that they pushed impeachment when a majority of voters apparently wanted no part of a last-resort constitutional remedy. GOP attacks on then-President Clinton made them appear petty, partisan and more interested in hurting the president than improving the country.- Advertisement -
Instead of picking up a handful of House seats in an off-year election when the opposing party controlled the White House, Republicans lost five seats.
The same thing could happen again, though with the roles reversed, if Democrats look to be more interested in taking their pound of flesh than in getting the country headed back in the right direction. That is why the party 's best strategy this cycle is to be respectful of the president while taking strong exception to his policies and his performance in office.
But those Republicans WERE being petty, partisan, and more interested in hurting the president than improving the country. And a majority of voters DID want no part of impeaching Clinton. In August and September of 1998, 16 major polls asked about impeaching President Clinton (http://democrats.com/clinton-impeachment-polls). Only 36% supported hearings to consider impeachment, and only 26% supported actual impeachment and removal. Even so, the impeachment debate dominated the news for months, and the Republican Congress impeached Clinton despite overwhelming public opposition.