June 16, 2008
Ducking Impeachment in Congress and the Newsroom
By Dave Lindorff
On Monday last week, something important happened in Washington. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the Democratic representative from Cleveland, OH, who early in the primary season won some of the biggest applause lines in the Democratic presidential candidate debates, introduced 35 articles calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors.
You'd be excused if you didn't know this happened. There was almost no reporting on the event that day or the next, which took several hours to accomplish, along with several hours Tuesday for to be read into the Congressional Record. Kucinich's address to the House was broadcast live on C-Span. But it was not announced in advance or highlighted on the C-Span website, and there were not many news reports on the historically significant fact that articles of impeachment had been filed against the president during subsequent days.
A week later, it has still not been reported in the New York Times ... even though the Times had just days before Rep. Kucinich's action, editorialized about the enormity of the president's lies in tricking the country into invading Iraq....
A number of papers did editorialize against impeachment, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Florida Sun Sentinel—but it says something that these publications thought it more important to attack Rep. Kucinich's action than to actually report on it as a news item.
The unwillingness of the nation's news media to seriously consider the need for Congress to respond to and challenge the president's clear abuses of power—even as they themselves condemn of those abuses of power—is a blot on the journalistic profession perhaps worse, and of more lasting consequence, than their failure to act as watchdogs and critics during the run-up to the Iraq War, when they acted more as patriotic cheerleaders than as news organizations.
...unless this president and vice president are impeached by the current Congress, any—and probably every—future president will feel empowered by unchallenged precedent to ignore laws passed by the Congress, to go to war without Congressional approval, to spy on Americans in violation of the law, to ignore court orders, to abrogate international treaties, and to lie to Congress and the American people. Unless Congress asserts its rights under Article I, it will no longer even be a co-equal branch of government, but instead will have been reduced to nothing more than a debating society.
...As hundreds of American troops continue to die each quarter in a war that never should have happened, and that was launched five years ago and continued for half a decade thanks to administration lies and deception, there is nothing more important facing this nation than restoring Constitutional government and Constitutional checks and balances—something that can only be done through the Constitutional process of impeachment.
...fully half or more of the public consistently continue to say, even at this late date, that they want the president impeached. Considering the media blackout on the issue, this is truly astonishing and even heartening. ... The public needs to start demanding that its representatives take action, on pain of being voted out of [removed from] office.
...the Democrats and Republicans in the House, with the notable exception of Rep. Wexler and California Reps. Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, have avoided Kucinich's articles like the plague.
We are at a critical point on impeachment. The elected leadership is afraid to challenge even this unprecedentedly unpopular president, who continues to defy Senate and House subpoenas, continues to promote war and to violate laws and treaties, and who is now conspiring with his vice president to launch yet another, bigger, war against the nation of Iran.
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