Progressives very clearly understand that this president ignores the will of the people and the rule of law. The only way to stop Bush's creeping tyranny at home and the massive damage he is unrelentingly wreaking abroad is impeachment, the blunt tool the founders provided when the executive brach runs roughshod over the constitution.
The progressive blogosphere has been aflame for years with impeachment rhetoric, scholarly lists of high crimes, and declarations that we must act before it is too late. At the impeachbush.org site 895,344 people have voted to impeach. Expensive full-page impeachment ads have appeared in the New York Times and other mainstream newspapers. Prominent impeachment articles have been written in The Nation, Mother Jones, and Harpers. Ramsey Clark, one of the most persistent and prominent advocates of impeachment led a passionate march on the Pentagon.
Yet, we find ourselves screaming in the dark and only at one another; the mainstream press doesn't touch the issue, even to decry it. With the exception of the indomitable, courageous Rep. Kucinich and the maverick Republican Rep. Ron Paul, congress is eerily silent. Even Rep. Conyers, formerly a vocal impeachment advocate, has backed off since the 2006 election. (Paul Wellstone, oh, how terribly we miss you.) Impeachment bills that were nearing passage in the legislatures of Illinois, New Mexico and Washington have been quietly quashed by the Democratic leadership.
The problem, of course, is the PTSD that has paralyzed the Democratic Party since its spine was liquefied by the shock and awe of McGovern's devastating defeat in the 1972 elections. Since that critical year the Democrats have been scared stiff by the mere perception that they might be less than enthusiastic about whatever military adventure, no matter how misguided, the Republicans glory in. Democrats have at least tacitly accepted the axiom that a president at war is a popular president.
Today, this abject cowardice to confront head on the terrible consequences of rampant militarism is manifested by Speaker Pelosi's position that impeachment is "off the table," despite her pledge before the November elections that she would hold hearings on the matter if elected. Her cringing fear of losing a few independent fence-sitting swing voters blinds her to the fact that such a voting segment has virtually disappeared into the anti-war segment, which now exceeds 60%. The leading presidential contender, Hilary Clinton - who rents herself out as a weathervane during the dark of the night but nevertheless reflects the party leadership which, in turn, controls the funds necessary for election - will not even mention impeachment. Instead she is calling for permanent occupancy of Iraq and increasing the military by 70,000.
What the Democrats need is for the press to jump start the impeachment issue by conducting impeachment polls. But Pelosi's fear to bring up the subject is a signal to the press to also ignore the issue because the press has become so ingrown with the corporatocracy that it limits its coverage to the narrow slice of safe territory bounded by the two major parties, outside of which the corporatocracy feels threatened. So it is that it has been five long months since the press has conducted any kind of impeachment poll, despite a congressional election that changed the power structure and the president's repeated doubling down against the will of the American people.
Sentiment for impeachment among several impeachment polls conducted in early 2006 ranged from 30%-42%. However, by October support was increasing. A Newsweek poll, which was hardly publicized, found 51% of Americans supported impeachment, with 44% opposed. [*]
But the major media have increasingly ignored these polls. As impeachment sentiment has risen, so has the reluctance of the press to address the issue. According to downingstreet.org and lewrockwell.com, when the Washington Post's chief pollster Richard Morin was asked by readers why the Post has not polled on impeachment he responded, "This question makes me angry." Frank Newport, the director of the Gallup Poll has said he would only run a poll on the subject if it starts to gain mainstream attention and not until then. [**] Apparently fearing that impeachment might actually become an issue, a Newsweek poll conducted Jan. 24-25, 2007 has stopped asking about impeachment and instead begun asking, awkwardly, whether the person being polled "personally wishe[d] that George W. Bush's presidency was over." (58% did.)
So, the message is clear: we need to insist on impeachment polls if the impeachment process is ever to move forward. Think of the headline "51% of Americans want Bush impeached." Or, 55%, even 60%. I have written to Zogby twice and have been put off with noncommittal answers: "Maybe" and "Soon". Instead of futile screams for impeachment, let's all scream for what will get the process going: impeachment polls. A beast is most dangerous when cornered. Given the neocon dream of attacking Iran, thousands, perhaps millions, of lives may depend on us.