Bill Moyers has put impeachment in the news, in the process shaming both the national media and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Congressional leadership.
In his Saturday program, Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers and guests John Nichols, the Nation's Washington correspondent and author of The Genius of Impeachment and Bruce Fein, a former attorney in the Ronald Reagan Department of Justice, made it clear that the Bush/Cheney administration has gravely threatened the Constitution and the survival of tripartite, divided government.
Moyers, feigning astonishment at the arguments of Nichols and Fein, asked if it might be justified for the Bush administration to grab special dictatorial powers in order to combat terrorism. His argument was demolished by both Nichols and Fein.
Nichols explained that the Constitution was designed by the Founders to be a "fighting" document, capable of handling dangerous times. He noted that the Constitution actually provides for the temporary barring of habeas corpus (the right to have one's imprisonment brought before a court and adjudicated), but he said that this was something that a president had to do <i>with the approval</i> of Congress, and only if the Country was under attack, which is of course not the case right now.
Fein for his part noted that most of Bush's and Cheney's abuses of power and violations of the Constitution and the rule of law have been done not openly and in consultation with Congress, but in secret and in the dark of night. His secret monitoring of American's communications--phones, mail and internet--for example, went on in for four years before it was exposed in an article in the New York Times. And the president has still not explained to anyone why he felt the need to break the law.
Fein and Nichols both blasted the current Democratic leadership of Congress for cowardice, lack of principle, and a basic failure to honor their oaths of office to uphold and defend the Constitution, in refusing to impeach the president. Fein said that in earlier administratiions, there were always at least a few members of Congress who were honorable enough to put country and the Constitution above party. "We don't have anyone like that in Congress now," he said.
Actually, it was one failing of Moyers' program that neither he nor his two guests mentioned that there actually are some such honorable members of the current congress. They did not mention that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), has filed a bill of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, and that his bill currently has 14 co-sponsors, with more people signing on every week. They also failed to mention that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) only days before the program, declared in no uncertain terms that Bush and Cheney should be impeached, saying that the country was "closer to dictatorship than it has ever been" because of the president's assertion of "unitary executive" powers to ignore laws passed by the Congress."
Despite this one shortcoming, Moyers' program is a public shaming of the tawdry and shameless corporate media, which has ignored the exploding impeachment movement blossoming across the nation, pretending that it doesn't even exist, or that it is the province of a few leftist wackos.
In fact, as Moyers noted, the most recent poll on the issue shows that half of Americans want both Bush and Cheney impeached and removed from office.
It will be interesting to see what impact the powerful Moyers program has.
While not watched by too many ordinary Americans, the program is influential among professional journalists and editors, and among liberals and progressives, who will be increasing their pressure on Democratic leaders to act.
Pelosi's efforts to block impeachment and keep it "off the table", will continue to look more and more pitiful and self-serving.
The next challenge to media blackout and congressional do-nothingism will be a march on July 23 from Arlington Cemetary to the office of Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the man who has the power to kick-start hearings on impeachment--in particular to schedule hearings on the Kucinich bill (H Res. 333). (Click on the banner to the left for more information.)
A sit-in is planned in Conyers' office if he won't meet with the delegation, which will be headed by Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war and impeachment activist whose son was killed in action in Iraq.
DAVE LINDORFF is co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of "The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office" (St. Martin's Press, 2006, and now out in a paperback edition). Lindorff's other work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net