By Dave Lindorff
The latest poll by American Research Group (http://www.americanresearchgroup.com/), showing that 54 percent of Americans favor impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney, and that 46 percent favor impeaching President Bush, is encouraging news for impeachment advocates. Despite a corporate media blackout on impeachment that means almost nobody in the country knows that there is already a Cheney impeachment bill in the House with 14 co-sponsors (HR 333), over half the country nonetheless wants Cheney to get the boot.
And despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence that “impeachment is off the table,” almost half the people in the country say they want the president impeached.
But other information in this scientific poll, which was conducted by random telephone calls to 1100 Americans during July 2-3, should have Democrats like Pelosi and other party leaders rethinking their obstructive position on impeachment.
The Democratic leadership has been opposed to impeachment based on the absurd that while it is clearly popular among Democrats, an impeachment effort in Congress could “turn off” independent voters.
In fact the opposite appears to be true.
The American Research Group poll also reports that 50 percent of independents favored the impeachment of Bush while 51 percent of them favored impeaching Cheney. Hard to see how taking that position could be hurting Democrats with independents. Moreover, the poll found that 13 percent of Republicans wanted to see Bush impeached, while 17 percent wanted Cheney impeached. That is, roughly one in six Republicans would look favorably on a House impeachment effort, whichever member of the administration was the target!
And Pelosi is against the idea for fear of alienating voters on the right.
Interestingly, too, opposition to Bush’s commutation of I. “Scooter” Libby’s sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice was actually greater among independents (80 percent) than among Democrats (76 percent). So was opposition to a full pardon for Libby, with an astonishing 97 percent of independents opposed, compared to just 82 percent of Democrats.
What does this tell us?
What this suggests is that the prevailing wisdom among Democratic strategists, that independents are some mythical “middle of the road” group, is wildly off the mark. In fact, many independents appear to be to the left of the Democratic Party, particularly when it comes to how to handle the behavior of the criminal Bush administration. Or maybe left isn’t the right word. They are more concerned about preserving democracy than the Democratic Party is.
These results help to explain why the public support for the Democratic Congress, which has failed to act on ending the Iraq War and which has failed to been studiously avoiding any talk of impeachment, has fallen from a heady 68 percent right after Democrats won the 2006 elections, to 23 percent today, several points below the president’s 27-percent approval rating.
If Democrats don’t wake up and start impeachment proceedings, they are likely to lose control of Congress again in 2008, when these disgruntled independents and Constitution-loving Republicans, many of whom no doubt gave their votes to Democrats last November, stay home or vote for somebody else next time around.
Meanwhile, the grassroots impeachment movement continues to build.
Events that used to draw a few dozen people are now drawing hundreds or even thousands. Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill, which languished for a month without any co-sponsors, now has 13 co-sponsors, with more joining all the time.
It’s all starting to come together.
If it doesn’t, the Democratic majority in Congress is likely to come apart.
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, and now available in paperback edition). An investigative journalist and columnist, his work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net