July 25, 2007
Which Insiders Are the Problem? (Or Is It Us?)

You no doubt heard the reports, mostly but not entirely snarky, about Cindy Sheehan’s arrest in the office of John Conyers. I admire her commitment, but it seems to me that her view of the problem is the reverse of reality.

I certainly believe that the current situation calls for, indeed requires, that both the President and the Vice President be impeached. No one can honestly question whether they have committed impeachable offenses. The question is what to do about it, and in this regard the leading Democrats in Congress are proving to be as spineless a majority as they were a minority.

But Conyers is not the problem. It seems clear that he favors impeachment, but to overcome opposition from the Speaker, he needs an overwhelming number of colleagues to back him. Which, in my view, makes Nancy Pelosi the problem. Her office would be a better place to get arrested to make a political point.

As Nader says, what we need is not a third party, but a second one. The Democrats, following the Clinton pattern, talk progressive but act DLC. They need the progressive votes (usually, though in 2008 not so much), but they’re mostly corporatist. The wide-spread recognition of that fact might explain some of the high fives that Edwards got for his two best lines in the recent debate:

Do you believe that compromise, triangulation will bring about big change? I don’t. I think the people who are powerful in Washington — big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies — they are not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power! The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them!

and

We can’t trade our insiders for their insiders.

Which of course is why the media hates him: they’re insiders whose employers are owned by the big corporations that currently exercise the real power. It’ll be interesting to see if any changes come from the video his campaign released, showing clips of important stuff happening in the world while playing the song “Hair”. Will they get it? (Will they be allowed to?)

In the end, I think Ruth Conniff is on the money with her observations at The Progressive. She mentions Russ Feingold’s proposal to censure Bush and Cheney, the classic wimpy-liberal response to the difference between reality and what the wingnuts demand. This is why the right wing is powerful and the left wing gormless: the right fights and the left compromises.

Conniff talked with John Nichols of The Nation about Feingold’s comment at Kos: “The history books will show we were vocal in condemning the President’s abuses of power.” (That won’t keep the next President from doing the same things, though; do we care?)

While Democrats give voice to public discontent with the Bush administration, the leadership is still operating on the theory that as Bush and the Republicans head off the cliff, the best course of action is to get out of the way. Politically, Nichols concedes, they might be right: “They should just stand up and say if we abdicate our constitutional responsibilities and don’t do our job, we’ll reap the benefits. It will allow us to do good things. They might be right. Standing by and letting a crash occur might benefit you. That’s a credible case.”

Immoral, but credible. That’s the real problem the Democratic leadership faces: they know their strategy is immoral, so they can no more afford to state it than Bush can be honest about imperialism and oil.

Witness the recent Democratic meme that impeachment would keep them from getting useful work done.

“The idea that taking up impeachment will keep us from acting on health care, gay rights, etc., is ahistoric,” Nichols says. “The fact of the matter is that during the impeachment of Nixon back in the 70s, the reason Congress was so effective and got so much done was that Nixon was scared and, in a calculated move, started cooperating with Congress to avoid impeachment. So the right thing to do is move immediately — see what you can get out of Bush.”

For that theory to win the day, the pressure on Congress from voters has to continue to grow.

That means us. Have you contacted your Representative?

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at July 25, 2007 08:26 PM
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Yes, I wrote to my congressman last week and asked him to cosponsor Conyers's impeachment resolution. He's a Republican, so fat chance.

And give Feingold a break. Censure is the toughest approach he can initiate; impeachment has to originate in the House of Representatives.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on July 27, 2007 8:01 AM

Yes but (my apologies for regurgitating on the ignored "elephant in the shop") aren't so many of us (I include myself) still in partial or full denial of the fact that the U.S. Middle Eastern convergent military/political/social/religious policy continues its long-standing, proven successful "bi-partisan" support by the single-party U.S. Congress (and Executive and Judicial Branches)?
The political posturing is framed for the "public" [the uninformed, and usually un-wealthy], to influence votes and support for the tenancy objectives of individual office incumbents and prospective office holders--be they labelled Demos or Repugs.
The basic policies sustaining all of them have not been, and are not now, under serious political review or consideration.
Hence, under these circumstances,"censure" or impeachment are correctly viewed as politically spineless charades. Thus the office-striving politicos, in their own closed-world-order, don't wish to, don't need to, dissipate their political "capital" and friendships on such "non-pertinent" philosophies of ethics/religion/freedoms, etc.

Posted by: Hoffmann on July 27, 2007 9:27 AM

I agree with Joyful about Feingold. Emotionally I'd like for him to push more extreme measures, but I certainly realize the improbability of such measures being adopted. Overall I think he's doing what circumstance allows. (And I think I have about the same chance of making any dent in the resistance of my Representative.)

I also agree with Hoffman that the basic policies, which I group under the heading of US/corporate imperialism, have not been questioned by anyone considered to be party leaders by the MSM. In fact a criterion for deciding who's a leader is the rejection of the evidence of history.

In my opinion, this is a good part of the reason the media coverage of Edwards tends to concentrate on hair, of Kucinich on singing, on Dodd as quixotic, and Gravel as crazy.

Those ideas are too dangerous to touch. Worse than communism, like kryptonite to Daddy Warbucks.

Posted by: Chuck Dupree (Belisarius) on July 27, 2007 8:58 PM

The unfortunate fact is that our system of choosing party nominees amounts to winnowing out the grain and leaving the chaff. Year after year, for as long as I can remember, the best candidates of both parties have been marginalized and discarded. Polling is in considerable measure responsible for this. A fresh and/or unknown candidate ranks, naturally, unimpressively in the early polls. Naturally because no one has so far had a chance to listen to his or her policies. Nor will they. The polls make the candidate seem like a no-hoper, and the press, following them, decides not to waste ink on such a loser.

In my perfect world, all poll results would be kept private until after the election, violators being punished by death. The culprit would be sentenced to listen to Tucker Carlson until he chose suicide.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on July 30, 2007 7:34 PM
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