Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 6, 2007

FOR A FRINGE IDEA....Independent national pollsters rarely ever ask Americans for their opinions about impeachment. In fact, when Washington Post polling director Richard Morin started receiving questions about it from readers, he got a little snippy about it, and refused to take the questions seriously.

It's hardly a mystery -- the notion of impeaching Bush and/or Cheney is still considered a "fringe" concept that "serious" people are supposed to reject out of hand. And yet, for a radical idea, a surprising number of Americans seem to think impeachment is a good idea. From a new poll conducted by American Research Group, a non-partisan outfit:

* Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush?

Among all U.S. adults, 45% support the House initiating impeachment proceedings against Bush. Among all U.S. voters, impeachment enjoys 46% support, a plurality. In all, 69% of Dems, 50% of independents, and 13% of Republicans say they favor the start of an impeachment process.

* Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney?

Among all U.S. adults, a 54% majority support the House initiating impeachment proceedings against Cheney. Among all U.S. voters, impeachment enjoys 50% support. In all, 76% of Dems, 51% of independents, and 17% of Republicans say they favor the start of an impeachment process.

It's hard to compare these numbers against other recent polls -- news outlets are generally afraid of the "I" question -- but once an idea is embraced by nearly half the country, I think it's probably safe to stop calling it "fringe."

Steve Benen 2:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (71)

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but once an idea is embraced by nearly half the country, I think it's probably safe to stop calling it "fringe."

that is unless you embrace David Broder-style 'democracy.'

Posted by: snicker-snack on July 6, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Correction, Steve: the poll does not show that impeachment is embraced by nearly half the country, but more than half the country. It seems even you have been infected by what is considered common knowledge.

Posted by: Joe Buck on July 6, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

So...Missouri Political News Service, which put a picture of a snarling german shepherd next to a link to one of my posts calling for impeachment and snippily stating that I was a moonbat because "the American people don't want it" was wrong - but then, the dude who writes it calls himself "Scooter" so....

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 6, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Savage and Bill O'Reilly will be on tonight claiming ARG is a front group for Al Jazeera or the Muslim Brotherhood. WaPO will pick up the story followed shortly by Dan Burton clamoring for hearings into the allegations.

Posted by: steve duncan on July 6, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well you might have noted that the poll's sample was 38% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 33% "Independent." I put Independent in quotes because on many of the questions they were even more anti-Bush than the Democrats.

But no doubt the poll shows how extremely disliked the president is. Would that translate into support for an actual impeachment? I rather doubt it but the Dems are welcome to march into that briar patch. Certainly most folks here would cheer them on and run lemming-like with them over the cliff. Only then, I suppose, would we find out what this poll (and ones like it) really tell us about the psyche of the American public.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall there was not that much public support for Clinton's impeachment (except among the rabid right). Does this mean that only the rabid right's opinion matters?

Does anybody know what the timeline of Clinton impeachment polls was?

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on July 6, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

So go for it. Have Democrats put impeachment into the Congress, and bring it up for a vote. See what happens.

Posted by: rnc on July 6, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing to see here.

The Dems don't have the stones to impeach Abu Gonzales, much less Shooter and/or Skippy McDumbAss.

Move along.

Posted by: decaffeinated on July 6, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, here we go: Clinton impeachment polls:

Phase I: Aug-Sept 1998 (Before Impeachment)

* Average support for impeachment and removal (10 polls): 26%
* Average support for hearings (6 polls): 36%

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on July 6, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of info on Clinton's poll numbers here:

www.democrats.com/clinton-impeachment-polls

Looks like support for Clinton impeachment never got over 45% and was usually less.

Posted by: Virginia Dutch on July 6, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Hacksaw": I put Independent in quotes because on many of the questions they were even more anti-Bush than the Democrats.

Then you need to put those Republicans who were more anti-Bush than some Democrats into quotes too.

Shorter "Hacksaw": any independent who disagrees with me is not an independent, even though I am a rabid and confused Bush lover and wouldn't recognize an independent if it bit me in the ass because my nose is so far buried up Bush's keister that I can't see what's biting me in the ass.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think Cheney should be impeached first, he's the power behind the throne.

Posted by: Old Hat on July 6, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

MonkeyBoy:

You need to click through some of the links. For example, the polls during impeachment showed support between 30 and 50%.

http://www.pollingreport.com/scandal2.htm#ABC%20News

And that was with the much-discussed option of censure, which obviously took some support away from impeachment (respondent's to the poll Steve linked to did not have this option).

According to the polls, at one point, 51% of respondents felt that Clinton should be prosecuted for perjury after leaving office. So it's not as though his impeachment was only supported by some right-wing fringe yahoos.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Newsweek poll July 6, 2007

Bush at 26%….and sinking

… you might have noted that the poll's sample was 38% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 33% "Independent."…. Hack at 2:51 PM

You could check an American's Political party identification and ascertain those numbers are not far off.
"lean Democrat: 50%; lean Republican: 36%"

Posted by: Mike on July 6, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Conviction by the Senate will never happen. Therefore, impeachment is a huge waste of time and effort. How about the House Dems just pass a resolution saying "We really, really don't like Bush." It will have exactly the same effect.

Posted by: ArkPanda on July 6, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Stones? Dems don't have the votes. The House might impeach, but they couldn't get enough republics to vote to convict even if they had video of bush and cheney diddling my pet goat.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on July 6, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

According to the polls, at one point, 51% of respondents felt that Clinton should be prosecuted for perjury after leaving office. So it's not as though his impeachment was only supported by some right-wing fringe yahoos.

Right, Clinton's 60+% approval ratings (that went up after the wingnuts really starting frothing at the mouth) show how popular that embarrassing witchhunt was among the American people.

Embarrassing for Republicans, not for Clinton, mind you.

Posted by: Old Hat on July 6, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous,

Independents are certainly free to disagree with me, in fact I would expect them to. But in a poll of roughly 1,000 people, assuming the pollster wishes to get a fair sampling of public opinion, one would expect that independents would fall somewhere between the Dems and the GOP.

Mike, you raise a very fair point in terms of how people identify themselves today. But as I read it, leaning towards the Democrats is more likely to involve a centrist leaning towards them and some so rabidly anti-Bush that they are leaning towards the Dems from an even further left position. So I wouldn't have an issue with the GOP only being sampled at 35% (per your data). But I would still expect the poll's independents to fall somewhere between both parties ideologically.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

45% support the House initiating impeachment proceedings against Bush.

Whoa, 45-54% of Americans and 13-17% of Republicans are on the fringe.

Posted by: Swan on July 6, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but what percentage of Americans would like to see Bush and Cheney kicked in the nuts?

Posted by: toast on July 6, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

the polls during impeachment showed ... one point, 51% of respondents

Dummy. We are talking about pre-impeachment polls, not the best poll result after the right-wing wulitzer got into full stride.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on July 6, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

the poll does not show that impeachment is embraced by nearly half the country, but more than half the country.

Just to clarify, I said "nearly" because Cheney impeachment was slightly above 50%, and Bush impeachment was slightly below.

Posted by: Steve Benen on July 6, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'd have more faith in the great good common sense of Americans if I hadn't read that in the most recent Pew survey in April only 69% correctly named Dick Cheney as the vice president.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on July 6, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but what percentage of Americans would like to see Bush and Cheney kicked in the nuts?
Posted by: toast on July 6, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah - well, for subjects that HAVE nuts, that would be cruel and unusual punishment. Bush and Cheney, on the other hand, keep their nuts in the Bandar family safe, so they wouldn't be harmed by said kicking.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on July 6, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

"Hacksaw": For example, the polls during impeachment showed support between 30 and 50%.

You must have found an outlier buried somewhere, since I didn't find any thing even close to 50% support for impeachment in my review of the numbers at the site you linked to.

But in a poll of roughly 1,000 people, assuming the pollster wishes to get a fair sampling of public opinion, one would expect that independents would fall somewhere between the Dems and the GOP.

Only someone with absolutely no clue about what "independent" means or who is utterly dishonest would draw such a transparently ignorant/false conclusion.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I thought that the Libby trial and conviction would be the spark that jolted the Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings against Cheney. I do not think that Cheney would be removed from office (as with Libby, I am prepared to be surprised), but a thorough investigation and hearings would be good for the country, and probably good for the Democratic party.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on July 6, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Oh I see Monkey Boy, so have you manage to find a poll regarding Clinton's impeachment that merely raised it as a theoretical idea? Because the polls cited thus far coincided with Congress discussing actual impeachment.

Which was part of my original point - namely, that people are likely to have different opinions based on a theoretical questions based on nothing ("hell yeah, impeach the bastard") that may not translate to continued support for actual impeachment (i.e. stepping back from the abyss).

So while you may certainly take issue with the polling data I pointed to, it's important to recall that your data is not a perfect match for the current question either.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

. . . only 69% correctly named Dick Cheney as the vice president.
Posted by: Steve Crickmore on July 6, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

31% correctly named Dick Cheney as "Super-secret dark Emporer".

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on July 6, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: But I would still expect the poll's independents to fall somewhere between both parties ideologically.

Only if you believe that every independent (or anybody else for that matter) is ideologically-driven in their answers to the poll, that the political spectrum is a bell curve around whatever definition of "moderate" you have in your pea brain, that every independent falls in some confined range around whatever definition of "moderate" you have in your pea brain, etc, etc, etc.

According to the polls, at one point, 51% of respondents felt that Clinton should be prosecuted for perjury after leaving office.

Which has nothing to do with whether they believed he should be impeached or for that matter convicted (in the Senate).

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Mike on July 6, 2007 at 3:03 PM :


… you might have noted that the poll's sample was 38% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 33% "Independent."…. Hack at 2:51 PM


You could check an American's Political party identification and ascertain those numbers are not far off.
"lean Democrat: 50%; lean Republican: 36%"

EXACTLY! And in reality, this reveals a bigger problem: that the media continues to treat issues as though there's a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, each of the two sides is entitled to equal time, and no other side is entitled to any time.

In fact you're quoting binary "leans" which tends to understate the impact of so-called independents. (So-called because that classification includes a small minority, like me, consciously affiliated with an alternative political party.) But the point is, Republicans are not entitled to 50% say in how our country moves forward, and you don't find the theoretical median American's position by averaging out the Democratic and Republican positions. With the "independent" 30-40% of the country ever more repulsed by Republicans, the political center has moved pretty squarely into Democratic territory.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, since the point of the post was not about whether anyone should be impeached, but about whether it was a serious question that the MSM should be addressing, all this talk about daring the Democrats to start impeachment proceedings is pure bloviating by wingers desperate to turn attention away from the lying, criminal, and incompetent Bush-Cheney administration and their failing war in Iraq.

Republicans are abandoning Bush all over the place and it clearly is not on principle, something that will be apparent to a large percentage of the population (all to the good of the Democrats), but on reading the 2008 election tea leaves.

Which makes the GOP claim that public opinion polls shouldn't trump principle all the more hilarious.

As Fat White Lie would say, I LOVE IT!

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

hack: But in a poll of roughly 1,000 people, assuming the pollster wishes to get a fair sampling of public opinion, one would expect that independents would fall somewhere between the Dems and the GOP.


sure...but we are talking worst. president. ever. here.

he is the decider...

and he's made deciding...much easier..for americans..

Posted by: mr. irony on July 6, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous,

Wow, you managed to use pea brain twice in one sentence. Impressive.

As for your "point" about independents, take a look at the first graphic in this Pew Research report from this April. It lays out the presidential candidates as well as Republican, Democrat, and Independent voters on a scale, with higher numbers indicating more liberal (as perceived by the respondents). For example, Bush is rated at 2.5, Hillary at 4.4 (yes go ahead and make the predictable GPA joke). Anyway, among the respondents, Republicans were 2.6, Democrats 4.0, and independents 3.6.

In other words, independents lean somewhat more to the Dems than the GOP (not particularly surprising) but nevertheless fall between the Dems and the GOP.

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=323

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

31% correctly named Dick Cheney as "Super-secret dark Emporer".

And 6.66% intoned eerily "He is our Dark Lord and Master!" before disappearing in a puff of acrid smoke.

Posted by: trex on July 6, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw >"...it's important to recall that your data is not a perfect match for the current question..."

It is even more important to recall that you are, based on your postings, a complete & successful match for an anal orifice

BTW, did you graduate from middle school this year or will it be another year there ?

"Democracy is made of knowledge." - Carlo Bonini

Posted by: daCascadian on July 6, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has repeatedly stated that as long as we remain in Iraq, it will prevent al Qaida from planning any attacks in the West and that to leave is to open up the US to attacks.

Despite Bush's claims, al Qaida continues to plan attacks on in the West, including here in the United States.

Clearly, Bush is wrong about Iraq diverting al Qaida's attention and keeping them from planning and carrying out attacks in the US.

So, equally clearly Bush is wrong about the need to keep our troops in Iraq in order to prevent al Qaida following the West home, since they are already in the West carrying out and planning attacks.

In other words, Bush is lying and the wingers have no response, except to repeat this already debunked claim over and over.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Dog - don't summon the porcine caucasian. He is not missed.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on July 6, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Bush has repeatedly commited impeachable offenses. He repeatedly broke the law, violated the Constitution, and failed to do his duty to provide for the common defense by failing to secure the borders. He used his power in illegal ways, and failed to use it in necessary, legal ways. He should be impeached, and Cheney, too.

What the Democrats should do, however, is not impeach him. This way, in 2008, they will be able to say to voters: "Look at the bullshit they tried to impeach Clinton for. And look at all that Bush has done, but we did not impeach him, because we, unlike the GOP, understand that impeachment is a last resort".

The fact that the Democrats did not impeach Bush could make the impeachment issue a winner for the Dems in 2008. It will allow them to further expose the GOP leaders as the hypocrites they are.

Posted by: brian on July 6, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

But in a poll of roughly 1,000 people, assuming the pollster wishes to get a fair sampling of public opinion, one would expect that independents would fall somewhere between the Dems and the GOP.

One would also suppose that a major US political party wouldn't go so far off the deep end as to drive us "independents" squarely to the camp of its opponent. One might even suppose that, in this age of enhanced information, one of the major US political parties could avoid twice nominating someone who would turn out to be a solid contender for the title of Very Worst President in US History.

One could make all sorts of assumptions, but one might also choose to recognize empirical fact. The Republicans aren't even all that popular among Republican voters. There's certainly no reason for us non-Republicans to support a party that's so clearly detached from its moorings.

By Hacksaw's analysis, if the two major parties were the Social Democrats and the Nazis, we'd expect "independents" to support each in equal numbers. Failure to seek out Nazi-leaning independents in numbers equal to SD-leaning independents would invalid the sample.

Again, the myth of bipartisanism rears its ugly head.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: In other words, independents lean somewhat more to the Dems than the GOP (not particularly surprising) but nevertheless fall between the Dems and the GOP.

If you believe that a highly arbitrary and structured rating system created by one organization accurately captures "independent" thought processes and political leanings, you are free to live your delusion.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

What the Democrats should do, however, is not impeach him. This way, in 2008, they will be able to say to voters: "Look at the bullshit they tried to impeach Clinton for. And look at all that Bush has done, but we did not impeach him, because we, unlike the GOP, understand that impeachment is a last resort".

Why is failing to impeach a President who's committed serious crimes a point in the Dems' favor? If every voter is surreptitiously replaced by a mini-David Broder automaton, then you might have a point.

Non-impeachment is not an inherent virtue. A jury who lets 100% of criminal defendants free is not necessary a better jury than one who convicts 30 or 40%.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

OBF: Shouldn't that be "Double Super-secret dark Emporer"?

Steve,
It's been a tough week for us weak-brained lefties. Can we have a cat blog please? We need it.

With respect to impeachment, I would suggest that we offer up Inkblot as POTUS, and Domino as VPOTUS prior to starting any activity. Once people see that there are good alternatives I think they would join the rabble.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 6, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw,

Apologies for arguing past you above; I didn't see your clarification that you're not asserting that "independents" should fall right in the middle, just somewhere between the two. I still think it's a stupid assertion.

Political views are not a homogeneous entity that can be modeled on a spectrum between two poles. On all kinds of issues, it might be that independents feel more strongly than either Rs and Ds.

To take a trivial example:

RESOLVED: The two-party status quo is just grand

What polling numbers would you expect? I: 10%, D: 60%, R: 80%, maybe? I certainly wouldn't expect "independent" voters to fall between R and D there.

Maybe "independents" are independent precisely because they're not impressed by the Democrats' efforts to effect real change or fight corruption. In that sense, the impeachment question is actually closer to the two-party status quo question than you might think at first blush. Democrats have much to gain political by leaving GWB in power. They may want him gone too, but at least they have a cost-benefit analysis to make. "Independents" have little to gain by leaving him alone, because no one's going to be representing us anyway. So the cost of impeachment to us would be negligible, and the gains could be immense.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's about time. I don't care if it doesn't take place until January 19, 2009. Obviously tomorrow would be preferable. (And I'd take Nancy over Hillary in a nanosecond.) As a recently naturalized American noted to me (conservative, too, voted for Bush), the Constitution had exactly these thugs in mind when they wrote the Impeachment Clause.

Posted by: MaxGowan on July 6, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous,

Well I will certainly take their data over your assertions.

EOC - If you had read what I had written, you would know that I never claimed that independents should support each party "in equal numbers." I did say that I expected the average response of independents to be somewhere between the average response of the Dems and the GOP. In fact, I agreed with Mike's observation on data on party identification and noted that independents lean more to the Dems than the GOP. However, since the poll Steve used has independents skewed to the left of the Dems, I voiced my skepticism about the reliability of the sample.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ooops, sorry EOC, I did the same thing on your post.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: Point taken. See my last post. I still think it's entirely plausible that Is would fall somewhere outside the range between Ds and Rs.

Democrats have something invested in the status quo. While they may desire impeachment, they have to weigh it against the political cost.

Non-R-non-Ds get nothing from the status quo. Some of us would like to see all the bums thrown out, but starting with the worst.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

EOC,

You certainly make a fair point that independents could lie outside the range of Ds and Rs in an "I'm disgusted with it all" sort of way.

The reason I am skeptical is that impeachment would in many ways be penultimate status quo course of action in terms of politics as usual, partisanship, and the whole 'inside the beltway' fighting that has those independents seeking change.

So the cost of impeachment, to independents, is that it could intensify rather than resolve the gridlock and partisanship that bothers them so much. That is certainly what happened following Clinton's impeachment.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

per brian:

What the Democrats should do, however, is not impeach him. This way, in 2008, they will be able to say to voters: "Look at the bullshit they tried to impeach Clinton for. And look at all that Bush has done, but we did not impeach him, because we, unlike the GOP, understand that impeachment is a last resort".

So, are you suggesting that instead, Bush and Cheney simply be strung up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on January 21, 2009?

That seems a bit shrill.
And if Ticketmaster gets the admissions gig, I'm going to have to object to the whole idea.

Regardless of how it will improve international polling about the USA.

Posted by: kenga on July 6, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Fully 64 percent of all Americans and 69 percent of voters said they disapproved of the commutation in the new poll. Broken down by party affiliation, 76 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of Republicans, and 80 percent of Independents said they disapproved.

Hmmmmm.

Independents don't seem to fall between Republican and Democrats in this poll either, as you would predict, Hacksaw.

Maybe you should go back and rethink what "independent" means and whether one can objectively arrive at a conclusion without ideology necessarily controlling.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw,

Your explanation is equally plausible. (I'm biased toward gridlock because I'm a Libertarian who believes the Founders engineered a certain amount of gridlock as a bulwark against bad legislation!)

But the burden of proof is on you. You're asserting that not only is it likely that Is would fall between Rs and Ds on this question; it's so certain as to be an indicator of a poll's reliability. And I don't think that inference is warranted.

Conversely, if your assumptions are correct and the next poll shows Is between Rs and Ds on this issue, I'm not going to cite that as evidence of sampling bias. Actually I think that so-called independents and our role in our national discourse are not well understood by pollsters. So in addition to typical polling error, a lot of movement among "independents" based on wording of the question or other factors wouldn't shock me.

I am glad that some of my earlier bombasthasn't kept us from having a civil discussion, though.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 6, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw: Well I will certainly take their data over your assertions.

No, you are taking their assertions (since their data is dependent on their definitions, i.e., their assertions) over my criticisms regarding your assertions, assumptions, implications, and conclusions.

Fair enough, but not an argument.

That is certainly what happened following Clinton's impeachment.

Clinton's impeachment, on the other hand, was not based on any presidential duty or failing, but a personal and private one, and only after an opposing-party special prosecutor was improperly seated and subsequently exceeded his authority which was then ex post facto approved by opposing-party judges.

There is quite a difference between being the victim of a perjury trap based on a meritless lawsuit and investigation and the proper consideration of abuse of office that includes corruption, lying to Congress about national security matters, covering up the outing of a covert operative, obstructing justice and prosecutorial abuse in the office of the attorney general at the behest of the president's personal staff and perhaps the president himself, and pardoning an administration staffer to prevent the investigation of potential national security law violations.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that there probably aren't the votes in the Senate to remove either Cheney or Bush.

However, pursuing impeachment is probably not the public relations disaster (like 1998) that some here make it out to be.

In 1998, the impeachment proceedings, the Starr Report were about sex and the denial, lying or not, regarding whether it happened. That's when support for impeachment plummeted and Clinton's numbers (approval, not "good person")improved.

In 2007, the impeachment proceedings will be about shenanigans involving a war that most hate. This actually could be more fuel to the fire in that regard.

If this were about sex in the White House, even lying about sex in the White House, impeachment support would vanish quickly. But it's not about that.

Posted by: david in norcal on July 6, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

The numbers will have to climb to 70% before Dims will support it.
They are as timid as Repugs are vile.

Question:

What percent of the public supported impeachment of Clinton?

And:

Did that hold the repugs back?

Question:

If Clinton and Gore had behaved as Bush and Cheney have behaved would the repugs have impeached them?

You bet your sweet Dim face they would...

TIMID!
COWARDLY!
SISSIFIED!

That's today's Dimocrat party.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on July 6, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta think there is some kind of self fulfilling prophecy going on with the Dems. By not having the nuts to go after Bush/Cheney for fear of the political ramifications or lack of success impeachment proceedings might encounter, they come off as not having any nuts, and not showing any nuts may just be the single most publicized image problem they have.

I don't care if it is unlikely to result in the successful removal from office of either of these criminals. Not trying to hold them accountable is just wussy.

only 69% correctly named Dick Cheney as the vice president.Posted by: Steve Crickmore on July 6, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is likely due to confusion over who exactly is running the country.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on July 6, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is the real power.

Impeach Bush first, and you hand Cheney a victory.

Therefore, Cheney would have to be impeached first.

Think how long that would take.

There would be no time left to impeach Bush and he can still bumble along (as could Cheney) throughout the whole process.

And the vapid and vacuous Rice would be president by the time it was all through and we would replace incompetence and corruption with ineptness and confusion.

Impeachment talk should be loud and frequent only because it puts the GOP (and their presidential candidates) on the defensive and makes them either waffle which makes them look weak and afraid and guilty, break with Bush and his base and lose their support, or support Bush and be tarred with his unpopularity among independents.

Impeachment talk is win-win for the Dems.

Impeachment action is a crap shoot.

There is no need to help a party and administration that is self-destructing; simply draw attention to it as often as you can, sit back, and enjoy the spectacle of the implosion.

Gonzales is neutralized; the core of the DOJ has abandoned him and he can't p*ss without Congress knowing about it because the core staff will feel free to expose any and every corrupt little game he tries to play and the Dems will keep him and his senior staff tied up in hearings for many months.

Much, much better than impeachment which would be over too soon.

Maybe we'll even get lucky and Gonzales will grow so frustrated at the shackles he's placed on his own actions and just leave.

Either way, win-win.

Investigate. Question. Pound the airwaves with revealing documents and testimony. Talk up the corruption and the idea of impeachment every chance you get and erode the power of the president and the GOP to affect national policy a chunk at a time.

Posted by: anonymous on July 6, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Hacksaw >"...So the cost of impeachment, to independents, is that it could intensify rather than resolve the gridlock and partisanship that bothers them so much..."

Possible and probably a good result (assuming you are correct) since true change only comes after shared pain & I am all for increasing the level of shared pain in this matter since "We the people..." have allowed "the door" to have gotten sooooo rotten

"All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door." - John Kenneth Galbraith

Posted by: daCascadian on July 6, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is the real power. Impeach Bush first, and you hand Cheney a victory. Therefore, Cheney would have to be impeached first. Think how long that would take. There would be no time left to impeach Bush and he can still bumble along (as could Cheney) throughout the whole process.

There is no reason two names can't be placed on the articles of impeachment.

Posted by: Disputo on July 6, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Believe it, if impeachment started and real investigations were made, they would discover things that would make even Republican senators vote for impeachment.

With the White House becoming more and more obviously a place of illegal conspiracy, the Dems are being left less and less choice about 'whether' to impeach.

Posted by: serial catowner on July 6, 2007 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Believe it, if impeachment started and real investigations were made, they would discover things that would make even Republican senators vote for impeachment.

Precisely. Avoid the Xmas rush and ITMFNow!

Posted by: Disputo on July 6, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

What about Rove though?

He is so quietly divorced from the angst over the two main players but equally embedded.

Impeaching Cheney is one thing, how does one rout the GOP Commissar?


Oh, and OT: petition to do away with electronic voting. http://pol.moveon.org/paperlessvoting/

Posted by: Zit on July 6, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the strategy is to impeach when the polls show it a 60% rather than 45%. Or to look at the Republican (and Democratic) senators up for reelection in 2008 and what their states poll at. If many of the R's start showing over 50% for impeachment, they would be under tremendous pressure. That's the place you want them to be.

Furthermore, I think Pelosi feels that the public demands impeachment. That's credible at 60% or so. The numbers will not get smaller. No one is going to say, "Never mind, I guess we shouldn't impeach him after all." Will they get there before his term is up? Hard to say, really, but they are going to do their best to build on the story of malfeasance, corruption, and favoritism. The Libby thing just adds to that story.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on July 6, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous:

"Broken down by party affiliation, 76 percent of Democrats, 47 percent of Republicans, and 80 percent of Independents said they disapproved...Independents don't seem to fall between Republican and Democrats in this poll either, as you would predict, Hacksaw."

Uh, that's from the same poll buddy. So it only reinforces my initial point of cynicism given that the independent's were more anti-Bush than the Dems.

To your other point, the biggest difference between Clinton's impeachment and this talk about Bush is that in Clinton's case, his critics put forward a legal claim and were prepared to defend it. As you yourself made perfectly clear ("Impeachment talk is win-win for the Dems. Impeachment action is a crap shoot.") this talk of impeach Bush is all about political grandstanding without actual presenting a case for people to make a decision about. Effective I'm sure but ultimately gutless.

EOC - one of the nice things about this site is that every once in a while we manage to get an interesting conversation going.

Posted by: Hacksaw on July 6, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Hacksaw: any possible fact pattern supports my position.

Posted by: Disputo on July 6, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the strategy is to impeach when the polls show it a 60% rather than 45%.

That seems to be the case. Durbin, eg, has started to solicit his constituents to agitate their fellow citizens for change (via writing letters to the editor, etc) every time another GWB admin scandal pops.

There has to be widespread grassroots support for impeachment and removal for it to be successful, but the Dem leaders need to, uh, *lead* in fomenting that kind of support.

Posted by: Disputo on July 6, 2007 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I'd have more faith in the great good common sense of Americans if I hadn't read that in the most recent Pew survey in April only 69% correctly named Dick Cheney as the vice president.

69 out of 100 Americans know who Dick Cheney is, and 54 out of 100 Americans want him impeached. So what percent is 54 of 69 people?

Posted by: Swan on July 6, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

69 out of 100 Americans know who Dick Cheney is, and 54 out of 100 Americans want him impeached. So what percent is 54 of 69 people?

umm, 78% of people who know Dick Cheney is the VP want him impeached.

But that figure includes the Independents who basically fall into 5 cagegories:

  • Those who follow politics and often split their votes mainly between Democrats and Republicans but will vote for an Independant
  • Those that despise the entrenched Ds & Rs and will only vote independantly
  • Those who have no grasp on the positions of any candidates much less how much they represent party positions, and depend on things like NewsBimbos saying they smell good.
  • Those who can't count.
I fear the vast majority of Independents are not in the first category. Just knowing that Cheney is VP does not make you a rational Independent.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on July 7, 2007 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo: There has to be widespread grassroots support for impeachment and removal for it to be successful, but the Dem leaders need to, uh, *lead* in fomenting that kind of support.

I think that an investigation into Libby/Cheney, aimed toward Cheney's impeachment, focusing on Cheney's role in manipulating the evidence that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program, would reinforce Democrats' efforts to force an American withdrawal from Iraq. Even if no bill of impeachment were passed.

That's not something I think is a good idea, but the Democrats could make it work for them. The down side is that it ties up all their energies, pretty much preventing them from passing other useful legislation. I can't really tell what's in the Dems' best interests.

In short, I think that you are right: this is an opportunity for the Democrats to lead.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on July 7, 2007 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

The impeachment and trial of 1998 cannot be compared to the current environment and talk of impeachment. In 1998 the process was driven by Gingrich, Armey, DeLay and others of the "Contract for America" ilk. These were near-fanatical right wingers* who had as their ultimate goal the destruction of Clinton and his policies. Their secondary goal was the further disabling of the Democratic Party by smearing and destroying its leader. They used Starr who found something they could hang a charge on, and they attacked with that light weapon.

Fast forward nine years and we have a Democratic Party leadership who - in the face of clear and admitted high crimes - clearly are incapable of acting. In fact the very Speaker of the House, the body in which the impeachment charges are made, made one of her first public statements after gaining the position, "impeachment is off the table". To think that Pelosi or Reid or any of the Democrats in power these days have the will or impetus to push for an impeachment is simply and totally wrong.

In 1998 the Republicans impeached not because a majority or even a plurality of the electorate wanted it. The Republicans pushed for it because they wanted it. They had a small but highly vocal (and shrill) group of extreme right-wingers with them (mostly the same mob we see still standing behind GWB), and they used that as a faux vox populi with which to justify their action. (As if they needed or wanted justification.)

The current Democratic leadership has cut off public discussion or even public input before the conversation even got started. They claim to not be with Bush, but imho if they refuse to listen to the voice of the people and take measures to stop him then they are complicit with his actions. "If you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem."

Bush and Cheney, with the backing of the Attorney General, have broken the law with their illegal domestic wiretapping. This is a fact, and only has to be entered into a court. But the Democrats will not act. Bush and Cheney refuse to withdraw from Iraq, and despite the peoples' election of the Democrats with the implicit directions to do something about the war, the Democrats take no actual action.

It's for this reason that the category "Independent" has become nearly as large as the other two parties. Many of us cannot stand the actions - or inactions - of the two organized political parties. With those two in control, we who wish to see a reasonable public debate about impeachment are utterly frustrated. Those two refuse to debate or act, and if the media treats us with the same scorn as the editor of the Washington Post then we the people truly no longer have a voice in our government. And that, by definition, is the end of democracy.

Posted by: AC on July 7, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

"If you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem." AC's post hit the nail on the head - my thoughts exactly. Bush the Decider has already clearly informed the populace that he doesn't care what the people think, he will do what HE thinks is right. The Democrats in Congress should be "acting accordingly" and working to give this country back to the people they represent.
Also, imho at the Final Judgment, one's sins of omission are as great as sins of commission. That is why after 45 years of voting Democrat, I voted Independent in the November election.

Posted by: just1texan on July 7, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK


just1texan: Bush the Decider has already clearly informed the populace that he doesn't care what the people think, he will do what HE thinks is right.


and it gets worse...

"I'll be dead when they get it right." - G.W. Bush 12/6/06

Posted by: mr. irony on July 8, 2007 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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