House Sends Impeachment to John Conyers
by Bob Fertik
By a bipartisan vote of 251-166, the full House of Representatives sent Dennis Kucinich’s 35 Articles of Impeachment to the Judiciary Committee.
That means Chairman John Conyers now has the power to decide whether to hold impeachment hearings – or not.
Incredibly, 24 Republicans voted with 227 Democrats; the 166 no votes came exclusively from Republicans.
So what will Conyers do? When the Downing Street Memo was published on May 1, 2005, Democrats.com worked closely with Conyers to hold the famous basement hearings featuring Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGovern, and John Bonifaz. In August 2006, Conyers published all of the evidence of Bush’s crimes in The Constitution in Crisis. Many of us believed he would begin impeachment proceedings if Democrats won the House, which they did that November.
But in the spring of 2006, Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment “off the table.” And when Democrats took control and Conyers was sworn in as Judiciary Chairman, he fell firmly into line behind the Speaker. (Conyers insists Pelosi did not threaten to deny him the Chairmanship.)
Since 2005, Conyers has received millions of impeachment petitions. Hundreds if not thousands of activists have spoken to him personally. But he remains adamantly opposed to hearings, for one simple reason: he fears it will hurt the Democratic candidate for President (now Barack Obama) in November.
Of course there isn’t one scintilla of evidence to support Conyers’ fear. It is based entirely on the 1998 election, when Newt Gingrich turned the Starr Report (published online on September 9) into a campaign issue but lost a small number of seats by overplaying the issue in TV ads. Despite those small losses, Republicans held the majority and voted to impeach Clinton 6 weeks after the election, on December 19. And two years later, despite a massively unpopular impeachment, Republican George Bush got close enough to Al Gore to steal the election. And one reason it was close was that Democrats believed impeachment made Clinton too “toxic” to campaign even in Arkansas, which would have put Gore over the top in the Electoral College even without Florida.
Of course there is no comparison between impeaching Clinton for consensual sex and impeaching Bush for 35 High Crimes, including a disastrous war of aggression based on lies. And the difference is reflected in polls – only 26% of Americans wanted to impeach Clinton in 1998, while 43% of Americans wanted to impeach Bush in our last poll on July 8, 2007. (Of course the Corporate Media refuses to ask about impeachment in their own polls. You can email all the pollsters here.)