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Impeachment: Wake up and weep

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Impeachment: Wake up and weep

I’d hardly had my eyes open for ten minutes on Saturday morning before they were filled with tears. Anger? Gut-dropping despair? Is there any word that can describe how it felt to be watching on the local unaffiliated TV station’s morning news a live telecast of the Democratic Rules Committee meeting in Washington DC?

Florida Rep. Robert Wexler was giving an impassioned speech about why his state’s delegates should not be punished for breaking the DNC’s rules and holding their primary early. I wasn’t angry or in despair over the fate of the Florida delegates. My blood was boiling because this man is one of the strongest supporters of impeachment proceedings against Cheney and Bush, and the context in which he should have been giving an impassioned speech is during a House debate on proceeding with an impeachment trial.

For some weeks now I’ve been coming to the conclusion that this long-drawn-out Democratic primary isn’t about who’s the best candidate in November. It’s about making sure there’s no time left in the legislative calendar to proceed with an impeachment trial. Oh, how the White House must have been weeping with glee to see all those Hillary supporters saving Bush and Cheney’s raggedy arses!

Let me tell you just how scared the Democrats are of doing the right thing. Back in November, when I was reporting from DC and was credentialed to the Congressional Press Gallery, I politely buttonholed the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, as he was leaving an informal hearing to ask him about progress on Kucinich’s impeachment resolution.

I showed him my press badge, introduced myself, and began asking him questions as we walked. By the time we had gone the fifteen yards to the elevators, a plainclothes Capitol policeman and a fully armed uniformed one had materialised to stand at his side. Three armed security guards manning the entry checkpoints at the building entrance opposite the elevator also left their posts to stand by the doors leading into the passageway we were standing in. It was evening, and no one else was around except for Conyers’ aide.

A more experienced journalist might have asked if this was a sign the Chair had been threatened, but I felt physically threatened myself and just wanted to finish asking my questions, which I wound up quickly. After Conyers, the aide, and the plainclothes policeman left in the elevator, the armed policeman came and stood over me as I wrote up my notes. I was in total shock that this so-called shining beacon of democracy I now live in is so fearful of the media that it uses standover tactics to intimidate them.

Well, of course, for the most part neither the Democrats nor the Republicans need to use standover tactics with the journalists who daily regurgitate whatever spin they’ve been dished out just so they can keep their coveted White House press pass and/or access to lawmakers who disdain to speak with anyone less than reporters from a major network, newspaper, or a newsletter published by some special interest group that donates to their campaigns.

And outside the Beltway, in the metropolitan news organizations that can no longer afford to have a correspondent in DC, there’s no interest in covering something until it’s become a national story. On Friday evening’s This Week in Northern California, the political reporter for the SF Chronicle commented on how many emails the paper had received asking “Who appointed HER queen,” in response to Pelosi’s saying that she expected the nomination to be wound up within the next week.

It’s the exact same comment made when Pelosi, so long ago, said that “impeachment is not on the table.” Was that reported at the time? I don’t think so.

God save America!



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