Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder
Saturday, March 25, 2006
HOLYOKE, Mass. -- To drive through the mill towns and curling country roads here is to journey into New England's impeachment belt. Three of this state's 10 House members have called for the investigation and possible impeachment of President Bush.
Thirty miles north, residents in four Vermont villages voted earlier this month at annual town meetings to buy more rock salt, approve school budgets, and impeach the president for lying about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and for sanctioning torture.
Window cleaner Ira Clemons put down his squeegee in the lobby of a city mall and stroked his goatee as he considered the question: Would you support your congressman's call to impeach Bush? His smile grew until it looked like a three-quarters moon.
"Why not? The man's been lying from Jump Street on the war in Iraq," Clemons said. "Bush says there were weapons of mass destruction, but there wasn't. Says we had enough soldiers, but we didn't. Says it's not a civil war -- but it is." He added: "I was really upset about 9/11 -- so don't lie to me."
It would be a considerable overstatement to say the fledgling impeachment movement threatens to topple a presidency -- there are just 33 House co-sponsors of a motion by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) to investigate and perhaps impeach Bush, and a large majority of elected Democrats think it is a bad idea. But talk bubbles up in many corners of the nation, and on the Internet, where several Web sites have led the charge, giving liberals an outlet for anger that has been years in the making.
"The value of a powerful idea, like impeachment of the president for criminal acts, is that it has a long shelf life and opens a debate," said Bill Goodman of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted last month to urge Congress to impeach Bush, as have state Democratic parties, including those of New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin. A Zogby International poll showed that 51 percent of respondents agreed that Bush should be impeached if he lied about Iraq, a far greater percentage than believed President Bill Clinton should be impeached during the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal.
And Harper's Magazine this month ran a cover piece titled "The Case for Impeachment: Why We Can No Longer Afford George W. Bush."
"If the president says 'We made mistakes,' fine, let's move on," said Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.). "But if he lied to get America into a war, I can't imagine anything more impeachable."
Democrats remain far from unified. Prominent party leaders -- and a large majority of those in Congress -- distance themselves from the effort. They say the very word is a distraction, that talk of impeachment and censure reflect the polarization of politics. Activists spend too many hours dialing Democratic politicians and angrily demanding impeachment votes, they say.
In California, poet Kevin Hearle, an impeachment supporter, is challenging liberal Rep. Tom Lantos -- who opposes impeachment -- in the Democratic primary in June.
"Impeachment is an outlet for anger and frustration, which I share, but politics ain't therapy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts liberal who declined to sign the Conyers resolution. "Bush would much rather debate impeachment than the disastrous war in Iraq."