More on Kucinich and impeachment

A vote last week means that articles of impeachment the Ohio congressman introduced are almost certainly doomed.

Published June 16, 2008 10:38PM (EDT)

Last week, the House of Representatives voted 251-166 to send an impeachment resolution against President Bush offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to the House Judiciary Committee. Barring any major surprises, this move effectively means that the resolution will languish until it dies.

All the Democrats who voted on the resolution were in favor of the move; 24 Republicans joined them. 166 Republicans voted instead to debate the measure on the floor of the House, a maneuver intended to embarrass the Democrats. "There should be consequences when the Democratic leadership allows the House floor to be hijacked by the loony left," Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said by way of explanation.

Kucinich himself voted with his party, but he says he doesn't intend to sit by and watch the resolution die in obscurity. "In 30 days, if there's not a hearing, I'm going to bring another resolution to the floor of the House," Kucinich said in a recent interview with Salon. "Next time I'll bring more articles."

Kucinich has previously introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney. That happened in April of 2007; in November of that year, the resolution against Cheney -- like this latest one -- was sent to committee. It hasn't been acted upon since.

In the last post I wrote on the matter, I predicted that the impeachment resolution against Bush wouldn't go anywhere, and -- responding to claims of media bias related to the lack of coverage of Kucinich's action -- said Kucinich's resolution didn't deserve to be treated as big, breaking news. That post inspired some fury from readers. I stand by it, and think the events of the past week have only proven my point. But since a lot of the readers who've complained about what I said seem to believe I said certain things I didn't say and made points I didn't make, it appears some further explanation is in order.

First of all, I didn't take a position on whether Bush deserves to be impeached, and I'm not doing so now either. I just took a position on whether Kucinich's introduction of articles of impeachment was newsworthy. Second, other than the specific action, there was nothing new in what Kucinich did. "I don't think there's anything in there that hasn't been previously disclosed," he happily admitted to me. In fact, all of the information in the 35 articles of impeachment offered by Kucinich (with the possible exception, Kucinich said, of some legal theories about the application of international law) had been previously disclosed and widely discussed; in some case, the public disclosure dated back years.

There might still be a case for newsworthiness if this was the first time impeachment had been publicly discussed, or the first time it was introduced in Congress. But it's been a subject of debate for years now, and several books laying out a case have been published. Moreover, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., introduced her own articles of impeachment against Bush in 2006.

Finally, Kucinich's move would have deserved to be treated as a big news story -- even though there's no new evidence contained in the articles he introduced and even though he was hardly the first person to suggest impeachment, or lay out a case for it -- if it stood a chance of being successful. It doesn't. Even if Kucinich could get it out of committee, which he probably can't, there's simply no way a majority of the House of Representatives will vote for impeachment when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly declared her opposition to such a move. And if by some miracle impeachment did pass the House, 67 votes in the Senate are required in order to convict Bush and remove him from office. There are only 51 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus; one of them is Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is a certain vote against conviction at the moment. Barring some radical new revelations not contained in Kucinich's articles of impeachment, there's no way the Democrats will be able to get 17 additional votes for conviction. That's simply the fact of the matter, and screaming at me or anyone else who points that out -- whether it be Pelosi or presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama -- will not change it. And a cursory look around some of the biggest names in the liberal blogosphere will show you that I'm far from the only one who can count the votes on this, and far from the only one who's treated this latest nod toward impeachment as something less than earthshaking.

Kucinich was not willing to speculate as to the chance for success. "I don't want to predict what's going to happen," Kucinich said. "I can predict my efforts ... Look, I understand how people look at things here in Washington, but I also take a look at it from someone who looks at it in a way of a deep love of country.

"When you really start to get to that point, if we can get the argument and the discussion to that point, I wouldn't want to predict that this could not happen."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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Dennis Kucinich D-ohio George W. Bush