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Make McCain Choose

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What if Senator John McCain were forced to choose an extremely and increasingly unpopular position and stand by it for months as it became less and less popular?  

No, I don't mean his support for a permanent occupation of Iraq.  Nobody forced him to take that position, and Senator Barack Obama is not exactly taking optimal advantage of it.  Were Obama opposing the occupation, committing to filibuster further funding, promising to prosecute the architects of the war, devoting himself to bringing our troops home and taking a different approach toward the world, then McCain might find himself in a jam.  Obama's "redeployment" to Afghanistan schtick, and his refusal to filibuster the funding, leave McCain looking like the tough and decisive choice.

But there is another weakness that a campaign capable of playing offense would exploit.  What if McCain were forced to defend the least popular president and vice president on record against a growing list of criminal charges?  What if McCain were compelled to defend Bush and Cheney and their record of torture, or their record of unconstitutional and illegal warrantless spying, or the lies that launched the occupation, or the baseless detentions of prisoners without legal process, or the endless war crimes?  What if McCain had to defend transforming the Justice Department into an arm of the Republican Party, firing honest US Attorneys, creating a political prisoner of the former governor of Alabama?  Would it help McCain if he had to defend the outing of a CIA agent as retribution against a whistleblower, and the commutation of the sentence handed down to Cheney's Chief of Staff who obstructed the investigation?  What if McCain had to run for president while defending the right of the current president to rewrite all laws with signing-statements and violate laws at his whim, or refusing to answer subpoenas or enforce contempt citations?  How could McCain survive such a campaign?

What if John McCain had to take sides on the subject of Dick Cheney's profiting from Halliburton's war contracts?  What if he had to defend secret energy task force meetings while campaigning for office?  What if McCain had to campaign not only for a permanent occupation of Iraq but for the power of a president to decree permanent occupations of other nation's in violation of this nation's laws?  What if McCain had to promise not to spy on you while constantly defending the right of Bush and Cheney to illegally spy on you and lie about it and grant co-conspirators criminal immunity?

This gold mine is not buried deep below the surface.  It opens up with the slight tap of one spade.  It requires only six words from the mouth of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Impeachment is back in the Constitution."

Now, I happen to believe that electoral concerns pale in comparison to the question of preserving the rule of law.  But if you have those priorities upside down, please consider this:

When the Democrats tried to impeach Nixon, they won big.

When the Democrats avoided impeaching Reagan, they lost.

When the Republicans tried to impeach Truman, they won.

When the Republicans impeached Clinton and tried to remove him from office, even against the will of the people, they took the White House, maintained their strength in the House, and lost a few seats in the Senate which had acquitted.  But they compelled Al Gore to run a campaign based on the notion that he had never met Bill Clinton.  Gore chose impeachment advocate but disastrous candidate Joe Lieberman as his running mate.  And the Democrats have been whimpering around with their tales between their legs ever since.

Stand up, Nancy Pelosi!  Be a woman!  You're doing well on telecom immunity and we appreciate it.

Stand up, John Conyers!  Be a man!  If you want votes, you'd better hurry up and earn them.

Impeachment is not just for Democrats.  

Impeachment is not just for sex.  

Fear is not the only state of mind possible.  

You can be assertive, Nancy and John, and you will benefit from doing so.  

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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