Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Poor Argument Against Impeachment

The question of impeachment is becoming a problem for the Democratic Congress. The Democratic base, a majority of independents, and a rising number of Republicans are unhappy over the failure of the Congressional Leadership to act decisively on this issue. The Democratic Leadership's argument against impeachment is universally accepted by the right wing corporate media and the right wing Democrats masquerading as progressives. Since the argument is so closely linked to the Clinton impeachment, I believe that a contextual comparison is the only method of reaching an objective conclusion about its credibility. Let's take a look at the argument and the numbers, then and now, which make the argument work...or not.

  • The Republicans instituted impeachment procedures against President Clinton in 1998 and suffered a significant political backlash, the Democratic Leadership is wary of facing a similar backlash today should they impeach Bush and /or Chaney.
The Republican Congress instituted impeachment procedures against a president with a 63% approval rating in defiance of the an overwhelming majority of the American people. The predictable results were that President Clinton's approval rating increased 10% to 73%, a number which beat the highest approval rating Ronald Reagan ever had.

A CNN poll taken on September 25, 1998 revealed the following data:

Which of the following possible outcomes of the investigation of Bill Clinton would you most like to see happen?

No action         34%
Censure 29
Resignation 23
Impeachment 12

Take this online MSNBC poll and observe the results.

Still not convinced by the numbers? Time/CNN provides the clearest contextual comparison:


* 45% favor "the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush;" 46% oppose.

* 54% favor "US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney;" 40% oppose.

Aug-Sept 1998 (Before Clinton Impeachment)

* Average support for impeachment and removal (10 polls): 26%

* Average support for hearings (6 polls): 36%

Meanwhile President Bush's approval rating hovers around 30% and has for better part of the last year.

The polling numbers reveal no contextual basis for any legitimate argument that the political climate during the Clinton impeachment hearing procedures compares in any manner to the political climate today. In fact, the numbers reveal that the position of the American people towards both the President and the impeachment procedures are statistically the exact opposite.

Furthermore, the so called political backlash that the Democrats currently fear never happened. Two years after an extremely unpopular impeachment, the Republicans lost only one seat in the Senate and won the White House.

The Democrats are playing what they believe is a safe hand of inaction. Their logic is that the Republicans are so inept and out of touch with mainstream America that any controversial, or bold, action in Congress risks losses which otherwise will not happen. They have not taken into account that they may be held accountable by an angry public for a crime of omission, just as Bush and Chaney should be held liable for a crime of commission. In many legal instances, failing to act or report a crime creates complicity to the crime.

President Clinton's action's were clearly wrong, but it was the position of the American electorate that impeachment and removal from office was not warranted. This is clearly not the case with the Bush White house.

The issue of impeachment should be determined by the whether the evidence exists of a crime and whether the crime in question fits the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors.

If you still have any doubt whether the President and Vice President deliberately mislead Congress and the American people into war, watch this video.

Sadly, it appears that the Democratic Leadership prefers what they perceive to be the safety of inaction to the inherent risks of performing their constitutionally mandated duties to the American people.

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