Impeachment then and now

The Wall Street Journal says Democrats fear a 1998-style backlash from impeachment talk. Things were different then.

By Tim Grieve
March 6, 2006 7:22PM (UTC)
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The Wall Street Journal checks in on the calls to impeach George W. Bush today, and its findings are about what you'd expect: A lot of people are in favor of the idea, and there's no chance that it's actually going to happen.

The cold water is reality -- with Republicans in control of the House and Senate, John Conyers' resolution calling for a select committee to investigate the possibility of impeachment is going exactly nowhere. But the Journal reminds us that it's not just Republicans who are standing in the way. Only 26 of 201 House Democrats have signed on to support the Conyers resolution, and a lot of establishment Democrats are keeping their distance. "If you are looking for a message to take back the House and the Senate or the White House, there are better ways to go about it," says former Bill Clinton and John Kerry aide Joe Lockhart.


The Journal says that Democrats remember what happened to Republicans as they pushed the impeachment of Bill Clinton: They actually lost seats in the House, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich was forced to step aside. But as a chart accompanying the Journal's story makes clear, there's a significant difference in Americans' views this time around. In August 1998, only 27 percent of the public thought Clinton should be impeached if he lied about a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In November 2005 -- before the Dubai Ports World deal undermined Bush's national security credibility and before sectarian violence moved Iraq to the edge of civil war -- 51 percent of the public said that Bush should be impeached if he lied about the reasons for going to war.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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