Impeachment? The Democrats don’t want it


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Posted on Mon, May. 28, 2007


Democrats in Washington want to keep impeachment off the table

By Steven Thomma
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The push to impeach President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney 
is gaining a hearing in some parts of the country, but not in Washington.

More than 70 cities and 14 state Democratic parties have urged impeachment or 
investigations that could lead to impeachment. The most common charge is that 
Bush manipulated intelligence to lead the country into the Iraq war. Other 
charges include spying on Americans and torturing suspected terrorists in 
violation of U.S. and international law.

Most recently, the Massachusetts Democratic Party voted to push impeachment of 
both men. The 2,500 state convention delegates voted almost unanimously against 
Cheney; the vote against Bush was closer.

Massachusetts' Democratic Party thus joined 13 others on the 
investigate-or-impeach bandwagon, including: Alaska, California, Colorado, 
Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, 
Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Among the cities and towns, the largest and most recent is Detroit, where the 
city council voted 7-0 this month to urge Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney 
for "intentionally misleading Congress and the public regarding the threat from 
Iraq in order to justify the war."

"There's a lot growing in support," said Tim Carpenter, the director of the 
liberal group Progressive Democrats of America. "Whether Congress will respond, 
that's another question."

Indeed. The Democrats who run Congress have no interest in impeaching Bush or 
Cheney, despite pressure from their party's base outside the Beltway.

It's noteworthy that impeachment pressure is coming from the home states of the 
two Democratic leaders in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Pelosi said last year that impeachment "is off the table." Under the 
Constitution, the House impeaches; the Senate then decides whether to convict 
and remove from office.

It's also interesting that one of the resolutions came from Detroit, home to 
Rep. John Conyers, who as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee would 
lead any impeachment hearings.

The Detroit resolution was co-authored by Monica Conyers, the congressman's 
wife. But she hasn't had any noticeable clout at home: Conyers said last year 
that he wasn't interested in impeachment - just oversight investigations - and 
he hasn't changed his stand.

There are both policy and political reasons that Democratic leaders are risking 
the anger of their base.

One is that some don't see an impeachable offense in what Bush has done, what 
the Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." They might find such 
evidence in any of the many congressional investigations, but they haven't yet.

Another is that they fear a political backlash from voters similar to the one 
that punished Republicans after they impeached Bill Clinton. One factor on the 
side of the pro-impeachment crowd: Clinton was much more popular than Bush.

The third is that they're eager to keep Bush and Cheney around as punching bags 
for Democratic candidates in the 2008 campaign.

"The political lens they're looking through is the 2008 election," Carpenter 
said. "They want to see Bush and Cheney dangling so the election is a referendum
on them. That is not the correct lens."

To him, the right lens is the last election, when voters threw the Republicans 
out of power in Congress. Those people, he said, now want Bush and Cheney out.

"There is a groundswell here," Carpenter said. "Pelosi says it's off the table. 
It's our role to put it on the table."

© 2007 McClatchy Washington Bureau and wire service sources. All Rights 

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