Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It Would Seem that Nancy Pelosi Might be Changing Her Tune Ever So Slightly...


It would seem that Nancy Pelosi might be changing her tune ever so slightly.

The Nation -- If she were not in the House--and not Speaker of the House--Nancy Pelosi says she "would probably advocate" impeaching President Bush.

But given her current role as party leader, at a breakfast with progressive journalists today (named after our great friend Maria Leavey) Pelosi sketched her case against impeachment.

"The question of impeachment is something that would divide the country," Pelosi said this morning during a wide-ranging discussion in the ornate Speaker's office. Her top priorities are ending the war in Iraq, expanding health care, creating jobs and preserving the environment. "I know what our success can be on those issues. I don't know what our success can be on impeaching the president."

Democratic Party leaders do not have the votes to pass an impeachment resolution. And Democrats could be judged harshly for partisan gridlock, just as the American people turned on Congressional Republicans in the 90s for pursuing the impeachment of President Clinton. The Nation, via Cap'n Dyke

So why can't Speaker Pelosi just flat out call for impeachment? Why can't she just speak her mind, if impeachment is what she wants? Because she is next in for succession if Bush and Cheney are impeached. It would be the equivalent of her saying, "I want to be president."

It would be immodest, not to mention the fact that it would incense the Republican base. The average Republican would say, "Can you imagine that! a democrat, a woman, a woman from San Francisco declaring that she wants to take the presidency from a fellow Republican?" It is actually surprising that Pelosi said as much as she did, considering the consequences.

Even a slight shift in Pelosi's rhetoric may be significant. Remember that everything that Pelosi says is carefully measured to account for the full weight of the her position as speaker of the house. Like any politician, everything she says is to create an effect.

Pelosi — who today admitted that as member of her caucus, as opposed to its leader, she "would probably advocate" for impeachment — upset the organic process with her declaration last year that "impeachment is off the table." She was speaking specifically about President Bush, but her words chilled efforts to hold any members of the administration to account. The Nation, via Cap'n Dyke

Pelosi's "impeachment is off the table" quote does certainly get a lot of milage, and she did in fact say it on more than one occasion.

On the other had, Pelosi said a Democratic-controlled House would launch multiple investigations of the White House, and that while impeachment would not be a goal of the investigations, she also said: "You never know where it leads to."

As far as I know, most of these quotes were from before the last election. During this time she said many things things that were meant to imply one thing or another. It was election time. It is not really fair to say that her "off the table" quote was all that she ever said on the subject.

The quote from The Nation is actually consistiant with things that she has said in the past:

"I said we'd be having hearings on the war, we'd have hearings. But I don't see us going to a place of impeachment."

"Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It is about checks and balances."

"John Conyers is an enthusiastic advocate. I am the leader. Our caucus will decide where we go."

"You never know where the facts take you ... but that is not what we are about. We will have subpoena power and that's why the Republicans are so afraid that we will be able to show the public how they arrived at a prescription drug bill that is born of corruption. The cost of corruption is huge to the consumer, whether it is low income seniors paying more at the pharmacy, whether it is all American consumers paying more at the pump or home heating oil. How did we get to this place? That is worthy of scrutiny."

All of those quotes are from one television program. She has actually answered the same question four different ways without being too specific in any of the answers. This interview took place September 29, 2006, before the election.

Imagine that! A politician implying two different things without saying either! I am pretty sure that it is not unheard of in the history of American politics. Also, whether it is during an election or not, it is probably a good idea to keep the Republicans guessing. In her position as speaker of the house she would be wise to be demur and act the shrinking violet, and let others speak for the house about any kind of presidential impeachment so that she does not appear power hungry. Whatever she says will be taken as an overt bid for the presidency by the opposition.

So Pelosi has said that "our caucus will decide where we go." The following indicates that house Democrats are still very reserved and cautious when they broach the subject of impeaching the president.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., dropped the word last Sunday, speaking about the investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. Conyers said he was hoping for more White House cooperation "as the cries for the removal of both Cheney and Bush" grow.

A fresh survey by the nonpartisan American Research Group found that 45 percent of respondents said they supported launching impeachment proceedings against Bush while 46 percent said they opposed such a move.

A majority of respondents, 55 percent, said they wanted Vice President Dick Cheney out; 40 percent said no.

The White House had no comment on the poll, taken immediately after Bush commuted former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence in the CIA leak case.

Yet those in the know say that impeachment is as unlikely as snow this month on Muchow's scorched fields.

"I don't think there's a chance in the world," said Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan.

"It isn't going to happen," said Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo.

"Not a feasible option," University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer said.

Set aside the difficulty of rounding up the votes to go after the second president in a row, Cleaver said. "If we pursue impeachment, we can forget any other Democratic agenda item for the next two years."

Entering a presidential-election year, Democrats would prefer a divided GOP.

"Almost the only thing that could unify Republicans right now would be an attempt to impeach," said Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political scientist. "The GOP is starting to come apart on Iraq, starting to come apart on No Child Left Behind, obviously on immigration. From a partisan point of view, why would you want to give them a real incentive to come together?"

Consider that Cheney becomes president if Bush is impeached and convicted, and more steam leaves the impeachment engine.

The House — where any impeachment proceeding would begin — has shown little interest. Seattle Times

But what about Pelosi? Not her quotes from before the election. What does she say now? I think this article explains what is going on with Pelosi very succinctly. I think that Pelosi is painfully aware of the failures of the 110th congress.

By her own admission, a public perception that the Democrats haven't delivered, especially on the war, has caused disapproval of Congress to hit levels comparable or even lower than those attained by beleaguered President Bush. Although Democrats have sought to chip away at his war policies, she says, the public doesn't care. Critics are demanding, "Just do it," she says, meaning getting American forces out of Iraq.

Not only that failure, Pelosi says, but also the prolonged debate on immigration reform that came up empty, sent a negative message to many voters looking for "something related to their lives" from Congress. The message fed the Republican argument that the new Democratic-controlled Congress is, if not a do-nothing body, at least a do-little one.

The jibe conveniently brushes aside as unvarnished politics the extensive congressional oversight of the Bush administration that has marked the Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill.

Bush's press secretary, Tony Snow, recently chided the Democratic congressional leadership for conducting 600 oversight hearings since taking power in January, asking why the Democrats "aren't doing the people's business." But in light of near-total absence of oversight in the first six years of the administration, the Democratic hearings and investigations have been long overdue.

The Democratic congressional leadership, however, has not done a very effective job so far in trumpeting its early legislative achievements that affect voters in their own lives, except a raise in the minimum hourly wage, throttled throughout the current administration. That is something Pelosi is trying to correct, with appeals to progressive constituencies to help spread positive word about her domestic agenda.

Nothing, however, is likely to put the Democratic-controlled Congress in a substantially better public light until some recognized progress is made in extracting the country from the Iraq morass. The speaker, without optimism, awaits the promised September progress report from Gen. David Petraeus, expressing concern that the administration simply will "kick the can down the road" by calling for more time to pursue the military surge.

Citing the failure of the Iraqi parliament to make progress on internal reconciliation and a continuing civil war, Pelosi says recent "anecdotal evidence" of progress is not going to satisfy the American people, who are looking for the political change in Iraq that military progress is designed to facilitate.

In the meantime, the speaker remains determined not to be diverted from her focus on her domestic agenda by continued calls from other party liberals for drastic punitive action against the administration, such as impeachment of embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush himself.

While indicating no intention of reining in Democratic committee chairmen like Reps. Henry Waxman and John Conyers, who have been leading oversight inquiries into the administration, Pelosi continues to hold, realistically, that seeking impeachments would be too divisive and prey to allegations of overt politics. The Athens Banner-Herald

Certainly Pelosi is aware of the country's sentiments.

About a dozen people chanted "Impeach now!" as Pelosi spoke at the dedication of the $144 million, 18-story landmark office complex, which boasts cutting-edge energy efficiency features. The demonstrators also unfurled a large "impeach" banner that directly faced Pelosi and other speakers. San Jose Mercury News

People are finding different ways to get the message across to her every day.

Clinton, Pelosi get boobed in San Francisco with Breasts Not Bombs protest
Several bare breasted women organized protests yesterday calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and to cutoff funding for the Iraq war. Fog City Journal

The article that I mentioned at the beginning said this:

"Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason and their compatriots believed that impeachment should be an organic process, driven by public outrage over executive excess. They intended that the people would raise the call for accountability and that the federal legislators closest to the grassroots, members of the House, would take it up." The Nation, via Cap'n Dyke

I would just like to suggest that the author give at least some mention about how the Democrats in Congress should get over this particular hump:

Does the author have an "organic process, driven by public outrage" that will stop this? Because that is where the problem is. Pelosi has already said that she would do what her caucus wants, but the majority of house Democrats don't seem to want to go in this direction against these odds at this time. They can't get anything past the senate right now. Things may change, they have only been in power since January.

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At Sun Aug 05, 06:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's got to be such a hard place for Nancy right now. She is not in an enviable position of leadership.

To do what is right is neither guaranteed success, as we've been around and around about.

To do what is right puts her in a position of having to defend her personal desires or non-desires.

As we know it's not about Nancy, but we also know that the rightwing noise machine would make it about her and the national corporate media would pick up that meme in no time flat.

Meanwhile, she's expected to make things happen in a Congress where the Dems don't have enough numbers to make real progress happen.

As always, thanks for highlighting the fact that Republicans are holding up legislation.

At Sun Aug 05, 08:47:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Well, I think that as small as this gesture by Nancy seems, I think that it indicates that her thinking in the are of impeachment is not out of the question. Things should change as the election gets closer. Republicans should start jumping ship. On the other hand, the closer we get to the election, the less time there will be to pull off an impeachment.

I am unhappy with this turn of events. I like Dianne Feinstein, but what the hell happened here? When I read stuff like this, I can understand why people start to lose faith in their leadership. This is a great post by BAC.

I still think that Pelosi and Reid are doing the best they can. They just need to sway a few Republicans at this point. They really need at least 10 in the Senate. The numbers are definitely a lot harder for Reid. I fear that if there is not some good news soon, people will begin to believe the lies on television about the Democrats.

At Sun Aug 05, 11:12:00 PM, Blogger BAC said...

Zaius, they are in a tough spot. As the election draws closer I fear the Republicans are going to dig in their heels. As the chart predicts, they are on track to have the largest number of filibusters in the history of Congress. Without 60 votes in the Senate, there isn't much that body can do.

As much as I would like to see Bush and Cheney impeached, I don't think it can happen given the razor thin margin in both the House and Senate -- and as good as the Republican spin machine can be, it could back fire on the Dems.

Then toss in the possibility of another terrorist attack -- which everyone seems to think is going to happen, and it becomes an even bigger mess.

I would enourage progressives to simply work their ass off for the next 16 months to take back our country!


At Mon Aug 06, 06:51:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Sadly, I think you are probably right.

If progressives work their ass off for the next 16 months to take back our country, it sitll won't be enough for the people that want the White House impeached. The reality of the situation just won't sink in, unfortunately. I can understand.

On the other hand, I think that they just got 61 votes in the senate on the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP), which means Bush can't veto it. The Republican's can be brought into the fold! Let's just hope we see more of it!


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