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Is Impeachment the Answer?

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Washington pundits are showering George W. Bush with advice on how to “restart” his presidency, but many Americans seem more interested in whether it's possible to “terminate” his presidency, removing him and other top officials from office. It is a question asked of us often.

The conventional wisdom – virtually across Washington’s political spectrum – is that the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney is unthinkable, and without doubt, it would be extremely difficult to engineer.

But a better answer to Americans interested in holding Bush and Cheney accountable is that impeachment is possible – if enough voters want it to happen.

Say, for instance, 75 percent of voters favored impeachment and considered it a decisive issue in how they will cast their ballots. Would politicians facing such a popular groundswell risk their own jobs to save Bush and Cheney?

Or, put differently, what would happen if voters – beginning with state and local elections on Nov. 8 – rejected every Republican on the ballot? Would the public hunger for accountability begin to sink in then?

Crazy? Well, there are signs that even in Red States, Bush is becoming a drag on Republicans.

In Virginia, for instance, a Washington Post poll discovered that only 26 percent of voters said they were more likely to vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore because Bush endorsed him, while 47 percent said Bush’s endorsement was a negative, with the rest either saying it made no difference or they had no opinion. [Washington Post, Oct. 30, 2005]

So, in a state that favored Bush in 2000 and 2004, barely one in four voters see Bush’s endorsement as a plus and nearly one in two voters see it as a minus.

And what if Bush went from being a drag hindering Republican candidates to being an anchor pulling them under? What effect would that have in the congressional elections of 2006? Might the Democrats achieve more than incremental gains?

Media Needed

Yet, while a political tidal wave starting in 2005 and gaining force in 2006 would have the potential of making accountability a reality, the tougher challenge of impeaching Bush and Cheney comes from the lack of an adequate infrastructure that can make the case consistently with the American people.

Despite some bright spots for progressives – from Internet blogs to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to talk radio programs such as “The Stephanie Miller Show” and “The Randi Rhodes Show” – not nearly enough resources have been invested in media to reach enough Americans to transform the political dynamic from a general dislike of Bush into a collective decision to fire him.

Conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, still dominate the AM dial, while also holding important beachheads in TV, such as Fox News, and across dozens of print publications. Plus, the mainstream news media seems to have learned few lessons from the Bush administration’s exaggerated case for war with Iraq.

While more and more journalists acknowledge they were duped in 2002 and 2003 on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, they continue to buy into Bush’s more recent exaggerations about the threat from al-Qaeda and the dire consequences if the United States doesn’t “succeed” in Iraq. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush’s Latest Iraq War Lies.”]

Though progressives have long prided themselves in their “grassroots organizing,” that area also seems to be lacking when it comes to focusing on a specific political issue, such as demanding Bush’s impeachment. Many of the old divisions come to the fore.

In an echo of the Ralph Nader campaign in 2000, some progressives refuse to unite behind Democratic candidates even to oust the Republican congressional majority, a change that would at least open the potential for investigating Bush’s misdeeds.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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