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Congressional Failure and the Democrats' Last Chance

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The Senate Democrats’ failure to push through a simple vote of no-confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, following on the heels of the Democratic Congress’s abject surrender on the issue of continued funding of the Iraq War and occupation, make it clear that the only appropriate course of action for the balance of 110th Congress is impeachment.

The vaunted hearings that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised when they took control of Congress after the November election have come to nothing, as the president and his cabinet officers stonewall and ignore subpoenas. Moreover, it has been amply demonstrated that nothing of consequence in the way of progressive legislation can be passed by Democrats with the narrow majorities they have in the House and especially in the Senate. Even the raising of the minimum wage—one of Pelosi’s and Reid’s key goals for this congressional session—could only be achieved by attaching that measure to the obscene Iraq funding bill, reducing it nothing but blood money.

Such a tactic—attaching Democratic bills to offensive bills that Congressional Republicans will support and that can avoid a presidential veto or signing statement--is too high a price to pay for such small “victories.”

Congressional Democrats need to forget about passing symbolic bills that can never become law, and need to stop talking compromise and comity. The public made it clear anyhow in the 2006 election that they don’t want comity; they want a genuine opposition party in Congress.

So far, what they’ve gotten instead is a cardboard cutout of an opposition in the Capitol.

We are dealing with a criminal administration, and the only way to get to the bottom of that administration’s criminality and abuse of authority is via impeachment hearings.

And the only way to get those hearings going is massive pressure from the public—a public that polls have demonstrated wants impeachment to begin.

For starters, every Democrat, and every patriotic American who cares about the survival of democratic government and the Bill of Rights, not to mention the safe return of all the men and women in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan, needs to contact their elected representatives and say that supporting impeachment is a bottom-line issue. Do it or lose our support!

Second, every one of us needs to contact our newspaper and television editors to demand that they start reporting on the grassroots impeachment movement, and on the crimes of this administration. It is simply unacceptable for an organization that calls itself a news program or a newspaper to ignore the fact that there is, right now, a bill in Congress, with seven co-sponsors, calling for the impeachment of the vice president. It is simply unacceptable that not one of the many books (my own included) laying out the case for impeachment, a number of them by major publishers, has been reviewed by the mainstream media. It is simply unacceptable that the key so-called alternative news programs, like NPR’s “Fresh Air” and “Talk of the Nation,” have been refusing to interview impeachment experts like Dennis Loo, Elizabeth de la Vega and myself. It is simply unacceptable that no news reporters in the national media have bothered to call up House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers to ask how his book, The Constitution in Crisis, published last year, can call for impeachment, and include a foreword by former representative Elizabeth Holtzman saying, "This pattern of immunity for presidents must stop. Impeaching President Bush for lying to get us into a war will not only protect us from him, but also send an unmistakable message to future presidents: never again,” while Conyers himself, as Judiciary Committee chair, simply sits today on Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill (H Res. 333), and has said nothing about impeaching the president. It is simply unacceptable that no mainstream reporter has asked Speaker Pelosi how she can insist that impeachment is “off the table” in this Congress, when we’re talking about a president who has been declared a serial felon by a federal district court, and when we’re talking about a president who openly claims the right to ignore laws passed by this very Congress.

We know the situation: Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership have concluded that the Bush administration, wildly unpopular and clearly inept and tangled in a losing and hugely unpopular war, is going to lose badly in 2008, and that if they don’t do anything controversial, they stand to reap gains a the polls in November, 2008. That’s why they are down there in Washington pretending to be legislators and pretending to be an opposition, but are avoiding doing anything seriously confrontational.

We, the American public, need to let these cynical Democratic leaders know that their scheme for 2008 is going to fail. We need to let them know that this time we aren’t buying their minimalist politics. If they can’t take a stand for the Constitution when it’s in crisis, and if they can’t take a stand to end a war that has been an unmitigated disaster for the nation and the world, we’re going to let them go down.

The Democratic Party has one last chance to rescue itself from an oblivion it richly deserves. If Congressional Democrats would start the impeachment process rolling, as the public wants, they would find themselves going into the 2008 presidential election on a wave of support not seen since the 1936 New Deal campaign of FDR.

If they don’t do it, they may find themselves actually losing the presidential race, and perhaps the Senate too.

And it will be time to say good riddance.

DAVE LINDORFF, a Philadelphia-based investigative reporter and columnist, is co-author, with Barbara Olshansky of "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006, now out in paperback). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net


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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

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