Thursday, November 09, 2006In this article, John Nichols urges the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to reconsider the decision not to impeach Bush. If Pelosi is worried about the possibility that impeachment would be political folly for the Dems, Nichols responds:
But is impeachment really a political loser? Not if history is a guide. There have been nine attempts since the founding of the republic to move articles of impeachment against a sitting president. In the cases in which impeachment was proposed by members of an opposition party, that party either maintained or improved its position in Congress at the next general election. In seven instances the party that proposed impeachment secured the presidency in the next election.
Pelosi's problem appears to be that she doesn't want to be accused of repeating the partisan misuse of impeachment that Republicans perpetrated in 1998 and 1999. But the misdeeds of Bush and Cheney are precisely the sort of wrongdoing that impeachment was designed to check and balance.
As a political reporter who has spent a good many years trying to unlock the mysteries of the Democratic Party, I contend that an openness to impeachment is not just good but essential politics for Pelosi and her caucus. The Democratic victory on Tuesday was not secured because the party proposed a bold agenda and won on it. Pelosi shied away from making presidential accountability a central theme of the campaign; arguably, she shied away from central themes in general - except, of course, the promise that Democrats will behave more admirably than Republicans.
To do something that will matter in the long term, something that will give Democrats the moral authority and the political pull that will allow them to correct the country's course, Pelosi and her fellow partisans must abandon the hyperstrategic politics of a contemporary status quo, which prevents surprises for entrenched officials, wealthy campaign contributors and powerful lobbyists. And the first step in that process involves embracing the oath members of the House take - to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."