Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fw: Roll Call Rolls Out Republican Lies

By David Swanson

Here's contact info for Roll Call that you may find yourself wanting as you read this article.
Roll Call phone: 202/824-6800, Email.

Will Democrats Resist What Republicans Couldn’t in 1998?
December 5, 2005
By Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call Contributing Writer

So far, the Democratic establishment has wisely resisted the temptation to make personal attacks on the president or to respond to the call for President Bush’s impeachment emanating from the party’s vocal "progressive" wing.

First, let's note that the party's "'progressive' wing" would be more vocal about impeachment if the media had not instituted a near total blackout of the topic. Rothenberg's belief that the topic should be taboo is reflected in the complete lack of coverage of it by the media. This has extended to a refusal to poll the public on it and determine exactly how large the "'progressive' wing" is. The few polls that have been done, we at After Downing Street have had to pay for (most polling companies refuse to poll on impeachment even for money). The most recent poll, from November, conducted by Zogby, found that 76 percent of Democrats believe that Bush should be impeached if he lied about the war. Fifty percent of Independents and 29% of Republicans said the same. In all, by a margin of 53% to 42%, Americans want Congress to impeach President Bush if he lied about the war in Iraq. That's quite a "'progressive' wing."

As far as Rothenberg's attempt to equate impeachment with "personal attacks on the president" goes, he might be reminded that the president is not just a person. The Framers of the United States Constitution drafted Article II, Section 4 to ensure that the people of the United States, through their representatives in the United States Congress, could hold a President accountable for an abuse of power and an abuse of the public trust. James Madison, speaking at Virginia's ratification convention stated: "A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution."

But it could prove to be increasingly difficult for party leaders to keep their members in line as liberal Web loggers, anti-war lefties, Bush haters and grass-roots activists — all who believe that their party has failed to show backbone on the issue — turn up the heat and demand confrontation.

What a freakshow of categories of subversive miscreants Rothenberg has assembled! But, wait a minute. Aren't grassroots activists simply citizens of a democracy doing what they're supposed to do? Isn't "anti-war lefties" a description, again, of the majority of Americans (unless Rothenberg has intentionally left out the anti-war righties)? And, as a liberal blogger, let me state for the record that I do not hate Bush. I've never met him and suspect he can be as amicable in person as members of the White House Palace Guard … oops! I mean White House press corps say he is. But he has clearly taken our nation to war on the basis of lies, and there can be no higher crime. Would Rothenberg dispute either of these points? He doesn't bother. Instead he maintains that the Constitutional provision of impeachment should be discarded for the good of the Democratic party.

Just last week, former radio talk show host Tony Trupiano was endorsed by ImpeachPAC, a new political action committee that endorses only Congressional candidates who “support the immediate and simultaneous impeachment of George Bush and [Vice President] Dick Cheney for their Iraq War lies.”

Trupiano, you may recall, was one of the Congressional challengers listed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as among its “strong candidates for change.” He is the likely Democratic nominee against Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) in a GOP-leaning district.

Perhaps by strong they did not mean the usual thing (subservient to arms manufacturers and apologetic toward Republicans). Perhaps – dare we hope? – they meant that he is likely to get elected because he's willing to express majority viewpoints in the face of hostility from establishment hacks like Rothenberg.

Democratic strategists surely haven’t forgotten 1998, when Republicans were so rabidly anti-Bill Clinton that they pushed impeachment when a majority of voters apparently wanted no part of a last-resort constitutional remedy. GOP attacks on then-President Clinton made them appear petty, partisan and more interested in hurting the president than improving the country.

Instead of picking up a handful of House seats in an off-year election when the opposing party controlled the White House, Republicans lost five seats.

The same thing could happen again, though with the roles reversed, if Democrats look to be more interested in taking their pound of flesh than in getting the country headed back in the right direction. That is why the party’s best strategy this cycle is to be respectful of the president while taking strong exception to his policies and his performance in office.

But those Republicans WERE being petty, partisan, and more interested in hurting the president than improving the country. And a majority of voters DID want no part of impeaching Clinton. In August and September of 1998, 16 major polls asked about impeaching President Clinton http://democrats.com/clinton-impeachment-polls). Only 36% supported hearings to consider impeachment, and only 26% supported actual impeachment and removal. Even so, the impeachment debate dominated the news for months, and the Republican Congress impeached Clinton despite overwhelming public opposition. Now, as noted above, a majority of Americans want the President impeached if he lied about a war, and numerous polls consistently have found that a majority believe he did lie about the war. A war is not a petty, matter, Mr. Rothenberg, and you would not think so had you lost loved ones in it. If you cannot tell the difference between a war and a blowjob, we should pity you but ask you to take a leave of absence from journalism.

When only three self-marginalized Democratic Reps. — Georgian Cynthia McKinney, New Yorker José Serrano and Florida’s Robert Wexler (see Guest Observer, page 10) — can support a resolution for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, you know that party leaders understand the need to appear measured and thoughtful when it comes to the handling of U.S. troops in the field.

Rothenberg cannot be unaware that the resolution he refers to was a childish Republican stunt, and that the vote on it does not reflect the number of Congress Members who support immediate withdrawal. In fact, so many do, that Congresswoman Pelosi has been forced to follow suit. Rothenberg notes this himself in the next paragraph, but pretends that Pelosi is out there on her own – or with Congressman John Murtha as sole companion.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (Calif.) recent adoption of Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha’s “get out of Iraq now” position raises some questions about whether the Democrats will continue to show restraint.

For the DCCC, then, Trupiano’s endorsement by ImpeachPAC poses something of a conundrum.
Do you stick with a guy who is calling for the simultaneous impeachment of the president and vice president and who calls impeachment “a nonpartisan idea” and “the way to hold the government accountable”? Do you keep him on your list of strong challengers, when you know that appears to stamp him with the committee’s seal of approval?

For the DCCC, the best tactic may well be to simply ignore the flap that will likely be created when the National Republican Congressional Committee and political reporters press DCCC bigwigs about Trupiano’s endorsement by ImpeachPAC.

That’s the advice veteran Democratic operatives offered when I asked them what the DCCC might do.

“It will become an issue inside the campaign, but it isn’t an issue for the DCCC any more than any other thing that happens in another candidate’s campaign,” said one operative who called the decision to accept the ImpeachPAC’s $2,100 “a mistake by a first-time candidate,” given the district’s makeup.

Another veteran Democratic campaign professional agreed, saying, “If I were at the DCCC, I’d say let’s keep our heads down at least unless it becomes a story. Then we may have to deal with it.

“But,” added the Democrat, “if I were at the NRCC, I’d be screaming bloody murder that the candidate was an extremist.”

So Rothenberg does not pretend to have spoken to anyone actually working for the DCCC, yet informs us that the DCCC is facing a conundrum. All this can mean is that Rothenberg and possibly his anonymous friends are facing a conundrum. Veteran Democratic campaign professionals have an abysmal record of losing elections by refusing to advocate for the positions of Democratic voters. Here one of them goes so far as to offer advice to the Republicans on how to attack a Democrat who has stepped out of line. But let's note once more that Trupiano's "extremist" position is shared by 53 percent of Americans and 76 percent of Democrats.

The DCCC is in this bind, frankly, because it is unlikely to risk angering its bloggers and activists, who would likely go ballistic if the committee started to distance itself from Trupiano or his comments on the war.

Again, the bind is a fabrication of Rothenberg's. No one has documented that the DCCC sees itself as being in a bind. If DCCC staff do, in fact, think the way that Rothenberg postulates, then it would be a terrific thing if activists were able to provide the missing backbone.

But who is Rothenberg, or any member of the media, to decree which positions must be taboo, which candidates must be ostracized, which issues the DCCC must line up with the NRCC on and against Democratic voters? We've grown used to talking heads on TV acting like royalty, but a columnist for Roll Call? This adds an almost endearing aspect of pitiable overreaching to the fascism of corporate communications.

For his part, Trupiano isn’t apologetic about the endorsement and doesn’t see it as a big deal. “What’s the shame in wanting to talk about truth and transparency in government?” he told me last week in a telephone interview. But Trupiano noted that his top issue is jobs.

Trupiano is only one candidate for Congress, and he isn’t making party policy. But if he isn’t an anomaly — if other candidates (or incumbent Members of Congress) echo the ImpeachPAC line — the DCCC could be faced with a more serious problem.

So could Bush and Cheney. So could Republican candidates. So could Stuart Rothenberg.

Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

Roll Call phone: 202/824-6800, Email.

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