Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why the GOP shall win unless Democrats get their acts together.

Tomorrow I'll address something having to do with the new database cataloging the lies that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Today I'm going to write about a couple of things that the candidates for president and for Congress really ought to heed, lest they blow it all again. First, the Rude Pundit writes of the stench of Karl Rove hanging in the political air.
Really, Clinton and Obama are playing into Rove's hand. Much of the blame here rests with the Clintons, who, truly, are campaigning as a single, buy-one-get-one-free unit, for when Bill says that he consulted Hillary on every decision he made when president, the implicit promise is that Hillary will consult him and, c'mon, don't we want Bill back in the White House? They are fighting a campaign that is better suited to 2000 or 2004. Someone needs to kick Bill Clinton in the nuts and say, "Down, boy." He's playing the short game, which used to be the way you win elections.
That's not all:

At this point, the Democrats could nominate a sock monkey or a slice of provolone and it would beat John McCain or Mitt Romney. As long as that sock monkey wore a "Bring the troops home" t-shirt. But the Clintons are waging the slash and burn war of tiny marginal advantages here and there that'll let them conquer 51% of the territory and declare victory, very much like the way Rove operates, very much like how Clinton adviser Mark Penn sees marketing. (Rove, by the way, must be chafing at the bit to go after consultant Howard Wolfson and other Glover Park Group members.)

This concern is a very valid one, and it may very well become a realized nightmare. It has been written at Daily Kos that should Clinton win the nomination, Howard Dean's days as DNC Chair are numbered; that we'll go back to the McAuliffe era of losing elections because God forbid the DLC ever allow the Democratic Party to stick with strategies and tactics that actually help the party as a whole win. His Rudeness closes with:

The way to real victory that leads to real potential changes in the nation is not to play Rove's game. He is the master. Win or lose the battle, who cares, the true master knows, the real essence is what happens during the arc of the war. Don't believe it? Ask yourself how much that thrillingly new Democratic Congress actually got done that wouldn't have been done under a Republican one.

Which leads me to the second point. Jerrold Nadler -- who is on the House Judiciary Committee -- is one of Nancy Pelosi's chief allies in keeping impeachment from happening.

Conyers and some subgroup plan to take their proposal for non-impeachment imperial abuse hearings to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to request her blessing. She is, of course, most likely to share Nadler's position. She may have given Nadler his position, or perhaps it originated with Hillary Clinton, but it sounds most likely that Nadler has simply been speaking for himself: he honestly opposes impeachment hearings, even for emperors.

Let's lay it on the table here, again, because it really needs to be hammered home.

Wednesday's meeting was handicapped, of course, because no-one says aloud what the reasons are for opposing impeachment. That Cheney and Bush have committed impeachable offenses is universally understood. But the arguments against impeaching them (other priorities, bipartisanship, we don't have the votes, etc.) usually sound like lame cover for whatever the real reason is. I suspect the real reason is built into Nadler's plan of wasting a year in order to pass bills next year. He assumes that in 2009 there will be either a better Congress or a better president (he backs Hillary Clinton), or both.

Sadly, history says otherwise. For 230 years, the party that brings impeachment wins, and the party that fails to do so when it's called for loses. Conyers was there when the Democrats moved to impeach Nixon and then won big. He was there when they refused to impeach Reagan and then lost. And most of the current committee was there when the Republicans impeached Clinton against the will of the public for a non-impeachable offense and still won both houses of Congress and the White House.

When the Democrats held back from impeachment during Iran Contra, they lost the next elections. When the Democrats led the effort to investigate and impeach Nixon, they won big in the next election, even though Ford was running as an incumbent. When the Republicans tried to impeach Truman, they got what they wanted out of the Supreme Court and then won the next elections. Articles of impeachment have been filed against 10 presidents, usually by Republicans, and usually with electoral success following. When the Republicans impeached Clinton, impeachment was actually unpopular with the public. Even so, the Republicans lost far fewer seats than is the norm for a majority party at that point in its tenure. Two years later, they lost seats in the Senate, which had acquitted, but maintained their strength in the House, with representatives who had led the impeachment charge winning big.

Parties that seek to impeach are not punished at the next election. In fact, they frequently improve their position -- as evidenced by the Democrats in 1974, Republicans in 1952, and all the way back to the Whigs of last century. In every election back to 1842 where House members of an opposition party to a sitting president have -- as a whole or a significant caucus within the party -- proposed impeachment of the president, that opposition party retained or improved its position in the House at the following election. There is no instance of voters responding to a significant impeachment effort by sweeping its advocates out of office. In fact, history points in a different direction, suggesting that voters frequently reward parties for taking the Constitution and the rule of law seriously.

The Democrats have no legislative agenda to distract from. Voters do not care that they don't have enough votes to impeach; they simply want Democrats to try. And impeachment, historically, benefits the political party that brings it up -- while punishing the political party that opposes it. So why are Congressional Democrats so afraid to even try?

I keep coming back to one or both of two probabilities. Congressional Democrats opposed to impeachment approve -- for whatever reasons -- of the imperial executive. They're simply cowards. Whether it's one, the other, or both, the fact remains that voters have a nasty tendency to punish those politicians who deny them justice. 2008 shall be no different, unless we can convince Congress to get its collective act together and initiate impeachment proceedings and the presidential candidates to stop playing by Karl Rove's rules.

One last thing: I just found this posted at MySpace. Consider it a gift for all my fellow Kucinich supporters.

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