Will They or Won't They: Last Chance for Democrats
Will They or Won't They: Last Chance for Democrats
By David Swanson
WHY did all manly gifts in Webster fail?
He wrote on Nature's grandest brow, For Sale.
A Tale of Two Conyers
Congressman John Conyers, "The Constitution in Crisis", December 2005:
"In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.
"There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence.
"While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses."
-- Congressman John Conyers, "The Constitution in Crisis", December 2005
Congressman John Conyers, November 2006:
"As many of you also know, I have agreed with Speaker-to-be Pelosi that impeachment is off the table. Instead, we agree that oversight, accountability and checks and balances – which have been sorely lacking for the last six years – must occur. I have nothing but respect for those who might disagree, but that is where I come out.
"Having devoted a considerable amount of time and attention to detailing the many abuses of the Bush Administration, I firmly believe that we have brought these matters to the attention of the American people and the mainstream media, and that their verdict was reflected in the elections on November 7. I consider the now famous “basement hearings” and the issuance of my “Constitution in Crisis” Report to be among the watershed achievements of my more than forty years in Congress."
-- Congressman John Conyers, November 2006
IF THEY DO
The Associated Press / Ipsos recently polled and reported on this question "How confident are you that President Bush and the Democrats in Congress can work together to solve the country's problems?"
I'm fully confident that anyone who tries to work with Bush will contribute to problems for this and many other countries. I get the impression I'm not alone: Americans just elected dozens of new Democrats and not a single new Republican. I would not have answered the question, had Ipsos asked it of me, because my view of the world was "off the table." The AP could teach Nancy Pelosi a thing or two about removing topics from the table.
Announcing that impeachment is off the table makes it sound like you either have no use for the rule of law and your "investigations" are predetermined charades, or like you are engaged in the same impeachable offense Bush is: lying to the American public (you're taking impeachment off the table, fully aware that it will climb back on as soon as you investigate any of a dozen crimes). You've left impeachment ever more prominently on the table.
Reporting a balanced story on those who do and those who do not worry that the Democrats will fail to work cooperatively with Bush: THAT effectively takes impeachment off the table. While Newsweek just found that a phenomenal 51 percent of Americans want impeachment, AP simply did not ask the question or did not report the results. (Support for impeaching Clinton, when the media and Congress were promoting nothing else, never got above 37 percent.)
The Democrats (and Republicans) can get to impeachment by any of several paths. They can launch an investigation of anything, send subpoenas to the White House, and then raise impeachment when the White House refuses the subpoenas. They can investigate using any number of House and Senate committees or a bipartisan select committee. Waxman or Kucinich could as easily take the lead as Conyers. Or another Democrat, perhaps even a newly elected Democrat, could cut to the chase, introduce articles of impeachment, and become an international hero.
If the Democrats do stand up to tyranny and restore the rule of law to our government, they will not only increase the likelihood of reducing global warming and nuclear proliferation before it's too late, not only bring back habeas corpus and the Bill of Rights, not only make the next war much more difficult to launch, but they will also sweep the 2008 elections and see their leaders admired and loved the world over. Conyers was overwhelmed with support and adulation and contributions when he merely talked about preliminary investigations and the media ignored him. The first Congress Member who supports impeachment will be virtually deified (as well as attacked and ridiculed by a very vocal minority).
So, if the Democrats are playing games until they have their committee chairs, if they're convinced that talking impeachment prior to the "investigations" will lead to fatal attacks from the media, if they're planning to do their jobs and defend our democracy come February, then there is hope for them and for us. And if we force them to take action, then there is hope for us and for them.
IF THEY DON'T
If the Democrats fail to defend the rule of law, if they imagine that we care nothing for our rights and freedoms and merely want them to pass domestic legislation that will be vetoed or signing-statemented, they will do as well in the next elections as they did after they looked the other way on Iran Contra. Pelosi has taken so many things off the table, including the idea of cutting off funding for the war, that she gives the impression of ultimately wanting the stretch out on the table and take a nap. If we allow her and her colleagues to do this, we will let down our nation and the world and we will tell future presidents that no law applies to them.
If the Democrats fail to fight for impeachment and peace, I for one will want nothing further to do with them. Come 2008 I will not vote, or I'll vote for a third party or write in the names of people I respect. I told a great many people in recent months to hold their noses and vote for lousy Democrats so that Conyers could chair Judiciary, and the Democrats could chair every committee, and the subpoenas and articles of impeachment could be placed on the table. If the Democrats refuse to be the opposition party that was just elected, they will be as quickly unelected. If the Democrats and Republicans fail to impeach this President and Vice President, they will remove impeachment from the U.S. Constitution and any remaining faith in our government from the minds of Americans.
I don't think it will come to this. I'm optimistic. And I'm optimistic because the solution to this riddle is not a proper analysis of the mendacity or corruption of Democrats in Congress. The solution is public action. The Democrats in Congress will not act without public pressure. But – unlike the Republican Congress we just rid ourselves of – they will act if there is public pressure. Let's apply it. Here's how: