The Impeachment Menace

Kucinich's Broadside At Cheney Is Foiled

(By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images)
By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On a day intended for moving long-overdue annual spending bills, the House instead spent a good chunk of yesterday wrangling over an entirely different endeavor: a motion to impeach Vice President Cheney.

For more than six months, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), a long-shot presidential candidate, has labored to bring to a vote his plan to send the vice president packing. Kucinich says Cheney lied to Americans in the run-up to the Iraq war, chiefly about evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

But yesterday, the antiwar liberal's seemingly quixotic effort drew unexpected support from Republicans, who saw a golden opportunity to engage Democrats in a debate on the issue.

Kucinich's rambling, 18-page resolution bristles with citations of Cheney's public comments justifying the war. "The best option to prevent an unnecessary war with Iran," he said, "is to impeach the Vice President, the lead cheerleader of the war" in Iraq.

"The Constitution has been under attack by this administration," Kucinich told an reporter during the vote, and his effort is "part of a growing movement" to defend it.

"This isn't about my campaign," he said. "This isn't a Democratic-Republican issue."

But it became a partisan issue yesterday once Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) moved to table Kucinich's resolution. Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have said they will not back such symbolic gestures, for fear of burnishing Congress's current do-nothing image.

During the subsequent vote, Republicans were far along toward helping kill the resolution when they began switching their "yes" votes to "no's," clearly hoping for a public debate that would have showcased the Democrats' most vocal lefties.

But in the end, Hoyer settled for sending the resolution to the Judiciary Committee. There it is destined for oblivion.

Cheney has not come under such direct legislative attack since June, when Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) pushed to cut funding for Cheney's office and residence, even his lawn service. But Emanuel's proposal was tongue-in-cheek, whereas Kucinich's resolution, as he said, was "urgent."

© 2007 The Washington Post Company