Radio hosts slam top Democrats for reluctance to consider impeachment
Reid: Impeachment is a 'foolish idea;' Pelosi doesn't see justification
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) -- the top Democratic leaders from each of their respective chambers of Congress -- are drawing fire for a pair of recent radio appearances in which they reiterated their opposition to pursuing the impeachment of President George W. Bush.
In an interview Oct. 9 with nationally syndicated liberal radio host Ed Schultz, Pelosi defended previous statements in which she had promised that "impeachment was off the table."
"I don't see a connection between this and impeachment," Pelosi said, asked about a newly released secret memo on US interrogation tactics. A moment later, she side-stepped a repeat of the same question by elaborating on her goal to "bring the country behind a return to an America that honors the vision of our founders."
"I don't see that impeachment is in furtherance of bringing the people together in that way," she said.
"If somebody else out there has reason to think that they have evidence that the president has committed an impeachable offense that can pass the Congress, please let me know that," she continued, "but at the present time, I don't think that the justification is there for that."
Late Friday, Schultz told RAW STORY that the speaker's unwillingness to realistically discuss the impeachment option -- or even to entertain a theoretical scenario in which it might merit real consideration -- was tantamount to giving President Bush a "license to do whatever he wants to do."
"I think the Democratic leadership has signaled to the American people that there is no set of facts, no turn of events that would rise to the level of impeachment," Schultz said, adding that he thought the party's leaders had "pretty much given up."
"Our callers are extremely passionate about the truth," he continued. "They're extremely passionate about the Constitution, and poor Democrats feel like the leadership is letting them down."
Reid, too, dismisses impeachment
For those Democratic voters who believed a majority in Congress might have greased the wheels for possible action on impeachment, another recent interview with top Senate Majority Lead Harry Reid did little to kindle hope.
In a recent Q&A with left-leaning host Christiane Brown of Reno's KJFK radio, Reid dismissed the notion as a "waste of time" that would succeed only in handing the White House to Vice President Dick Cheney.
"The clincher of it all," added Reid, "is that we'd end up with Cheney as president. Does anybody want that?"
"What people want to know is why do we want to wait for more deaths over the next year because we say our hands are tied," said Brown of the war in Iraq, adding that Cheney could be impeached as well.
"Well, I respectfully suggest to anyone that suggests impeachment," the senator replied, "that it's a very foolish idea."
Brown, however, who shot back on-air that "respectfully, I disagree and I know there are a lot of people that do," told RAW STORY that she couldn't grasp Reid's "strange thinking."
"It just seems to me that they've already made their mind up that impeachment isn't an option," she said of Reid and other Democrats, like Pelosi, that brush off even the notion of impeachment.
"We just hear a lot of excuses all the time," Brown said, citing Reid's insistence on her program that the trappings of an impeachment would be an unneeded distraction that served little effective purpose in the waning days of Bush's final term.
"None of these arguments stand up," she continued. "You have to do what's right...I think Americans want to see some accountability, and we're now being told that we're foolish to even consider it. It seems like [Congress] is looking for every reason not to get rid of this president."
'It's all about '08'
The logic, Brown says, doesn't play out. She theorizes that "maybe they think that having Bush in power is going to help them with their numbers in 2008."
According to impeachment activist David Swanson, that's precisely the reason. Co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, and the Washington director of Democrats.com and ImpeachPAC.org, Swanson believes that reluctance among Democratic leaders has nothing to do with the a lack of justification for drafting impeachment articles and everything to do with politics.
"The Bush Administration is throwing out impeachable offense after impeachable offense," Swanson said. He counts Bush's "refusal to honor subpoenas," frequent signing statements and controversial intelligence gathering techniques as part of a roster of administration actions that warrant impeachment.
But Congress, in his opinion, isn't making a push for the president's removal because "Nancy Pelosi actually believes the best way to win elections is to keep Bush in office."
In Swanson's view, top Democrats have quietly committed to an electoral strategy that seeks to hang the albatross of an unpopular but still-serving President Bush around the necks of 2008 GOP contenders -- both the eventual Republican presidential nominee as well as the party's House and Senate candidates down ticket.
"And there's a view of history that says that isn't only morally disgusting, it's also wrong politically," he continued, adding that not only did Democrats have a responsibility to prosecute what he considers impeachable offenses, but also that impeachment itself wasn't inherently detrimental politically.
"Never has a party suffered for bringing impeachment," Swanson said, going on to mention that impeachment measures led by Democrats against former President Richard Nixon actually preceded a landslide victory for congressional Democrats in the 1974 mid-term elections.
Even after impeachment against President Bill Clinton, a very unpopular impeachment Swanson points out, Republicans lost fewer seats in the 2000 election than historical norms for a six-term congressional majority.
"They held onto both houses and the White House," he said. "Democrats should be thankful to suffer that kind of fate."
Schultz enthusiastically agrees. He believes that looming election concerns are powering much of the reluctance among House and Senate leadership.
"It's all about '08," he said. "They want the White House. They can't turn the country around unless they have the White House. They're serious about change, they're concerned about the country, but they think it would divide the country's future if impeachment were brought. And they're not willing to roll those dice."