House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took power in the House of Representatives in January on a wave of public enthusiasm and hopes that Congress would finally start holding the president to account.
Not quite six months out, it's becoming apparent to Democrats who were looking to her for leadership that she's not about leading an opposition party; she's about posturing and hoping for better days in 2008, but not much else.
Californians voted for Democrats in Congress because they wanted to end the Iraq War, and because they were, and are, fed up with the anti-democratic antics of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Pelosi's own California Democratic Party Convention recently overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on her and the Congress to impeach the president--something that Pelosi stubbornly refuses to allow to happen.
Now her failure to act to stop the war, and her refusal to permit a Bush impeachment bill to be filed on her watch, are hitting her where it hurts--in the polls.
According to a report today by MediaNews in Sacramento, written by Steve Geissinger, Pelosi's support in California, which was at 52 percent in March, has slumped 13 percent to just 39 percent since then. That's Bush territory she's entering.
It would be nice to think Pelosi would see this decline in support on her home turf as a signal that she needs to do something radically different, but she's been pretty pig-headed so far about taking on the president. In fact, as I wrote in yesterday's column, the Speaker is now on record as saying that impeaching the president would be a "waste of time" and that defending the Constitution "isn't worth it" unless she knows in advance that she can succeed.
Not particularly inspirational talk for an opposition leader, is it?
Well, maybe Pelosi's weakness explains why the number of members of Congress who have signed on to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's once ignored Cheney impeachment bill (H.Res. 333) has jumped to 13. The snowball is rolling downhill and it's starting to get bigger, and to roll faster. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's jail sentence, which was done at the urging of Vice President Dick Cheney, and which is clearly designed to keep the convicted felon from turning state's evidence (making it obstruction of justice), should give that ball a big push in the right direction.
Maybe the July 4 weekend is the right time for California Democrats to start looking for someone to challenge Pelosi for her seat. Even a write-in campaign would be worth it.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress should take a cold, hard look at Pelosi's home numbers, at the crash in public support for the Democratic Congress, which has fallen from a high of 65 percent last November to just 23 percent, and at the feelings of their own constituents, and consider whether maybe they should look for a new and gutsier leader.
Either than, or they should start working on their resumes. At this rate, 2008 could be a Democratic bloodbath.
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, now out in paperback). A Philadelphia-based investigative journalist and columnist, his work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net