This article originally appeared in AfterDowningStreet.org
National Committee (RNC) has launched an aggressive campaign to
smear Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), a founding member of the
Congressional Black Caucus.
Here's the background: It is accepted common wisdom
among reporters, pundits, congressional staffers, and a majority
of Americans that Bush and Cheney lied us into a war. A new
"smoking gun" piece of evidence makes the news on almost
a weekly basis, and that has been going on for upwards of a year.
Yet there has been no investigation in either branch of Congress,
no oversight, no checks, no balances, no accountability.
has introduced a bill (House
Resolution 635) cosponsored by 36 other Congress Members to
create a bipartisan committee to investigate the Bush administration's
use or misuse of pre-war intelligence. Should that investigation
end up pointing in the same direction that an overwhelming mountain
of publicly available evidence already points, then Bush and Cheney
will easily merit impeachment. An impeachment is only an indictment.
Following impeachment, the Senate holds a trial, and more evidence
Congressman Conyers has not done what the vast majority
of Democratic voters and many Republicans want; he has not introduced
articles of impeachment. Rather, he's stepped back a step
and proposed creating an investigation that would make recommendations
on impeachment. Talk about going slow! This is a proposal
to make recommendations on beginning a process to charge people
with a crime we all already know they're guilty of. That's all
before a trial can even begin.
The RNC should be accusing the Democrats of refusing
to put up a real fight, leaving Republicans to swing at air.
Instead they're accusing Conyers of firmly planning on impeachment
immediately after the elections.
The primary reason for Conyers' measured approach
is that most of the Democrats in Congress lack his courage and are
scared to stand up for the Constitution and a separation of powers,
no matter how fervently their constituents demand it. If every
Democrat in the House were backing impeachment, Republicans would
be forced to split with their party and join in. If the Democrats
were targeting Cheney, the White House and the Republican party
would be split over the question of defending someone so unpopular.
Instead, it's the Democrats who are split. Most
of them are hiding under their beds, none of them are introducing
articles of impeachment, and only 36 are standing with John Conyers.
Polls suggest that impeachment is a hugely winning issue
for Democrats this year. A Zogby poll was particularly bad news
for George Bush.
Voters want to vote for pro-impeachment congressional
candidates. Disapproval of Bush is higher than it was for
Nixon when he resigned, and Cheney is about half as popular as Bush.
Support for Bush among Republicans is weak compared to disapproval
Zero evidence suggests that fear of impeachment will
motivate Republicans to vote. Yet, the punditry is all parroting
RNC talking points that claim impeachment is good for Republicans.
This is a Rovian tactic: they attack at their weakest point.
They turn a weak defense into an offense through shear bluff and
bull. And the Democrats fall for it.
For the past two weeks, the RNC has been focusing
on John Conyers and claiming that he will work to impeach Bush as
Chair of the Judiciary Committee if the Democrats take back the
House. I hope he will, and that he will be able to drag the
rest of the Democrats along with him, kicking and screaming.
But that's not where Conyers is now. Trust me. We've
been trying to push him to that position for 12 months.
Impeachment of Bush and Cheney, by the way, is not
revenge for Clinton's impeachment. It is the left-leaning
Democrats who are willing to push for Bush and Cheney impeachments,
and we on the left never could stand Clinton. The dead armadillos
(those in the middle of the road) are the ones who liked Clinton,
and they're hiding from impeachment as if it really were an RNC
On Thursday, the Dallas Morning News wrote a story
about how Republicans can do well in this year's elections.
The "reporter" suggested focusing on the fact that Conyers
would chair the Judiciary Committee and push impeachment.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated
Press have been phoning around, working on similar stories, following
a recent televised encounter between Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
and talking rear-end Tim Russert. Russert rudely questioned
Pelosi about impeachment and suggested that Rep. Conyers should
take down his website.
Over on the
Disney Channel, er, I mean ABC News, Tom Delay began his recent
blather by telling George Stephanopoulos that the Dems should not
be allowed to retake the House because of… guess who? John
Is this beginning to look
like an oddly coordinated effort for our system of free and competitive
media outlets dedicated to truth and democratic enlightenment?
Then there are the stories
reporters keep dragging up about Conyers' staffer years ago babysitting
his kids. The Republican Party is throwing an orgy in the
Watergate for a $40 billion spy agency that couldn't find its ass
with a map and two hands, and this is where our intrepid reporters
are digging? Why?
Why this bombardment of
efforts to paint the longest-serving African-American in Congress
as a fringe extremist, whereas in reality he is balancing carefully
between the demands of voters and the spinelessness of his party's
The sad thing is that the
RNC may be doing what the DNC has failed at, finally announcing
to the public that the Democrats will boldly charge ahead for justice.
And, knowing Conyers, it
might even be true.
But that's between you, me, and the NSA. Don't
tell Tim Russert or Nancy Pelosi.