McKinney’s (And Any Other) Bush Impeachment Bill Is a Bad Idea

Soon to be former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s bill to impeach President Bush again proves the ancient adage that a politician scorned will move heaven and earth to wreak revenge. The bill is nothing more than a McKinney nose thumb at House Democrats whom she’s pissed off at for making her a party pariah. The Bush impeachment bill, of course, has zero chance of going anywhere.

No House Democrat will waste a cent of his or her political capital in backing the bill. Particularly since House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly made it clear that she and top House Democrats won’t spend a minute of legislative time debating whether Bush should go or stay. And they’re right. Despite occasional Bush saber rattling by Pelosi, Michigan Democrat John Conyers is the only Democrat that has remotely come close to doing anything about impeachment. A couple of years ago he kicked the idea around with a group of movement-type academics of impeaching Bush, and then wisely dropped it.

Bush is certainly a bumbling incompetent who has played fast and loose with the law, and is guilty of colossal fabrications on the war, domestic spying, and national security. But it’s the longest of stretches from that to make an iron-clad Constitutional case for impeachment, especially since Democrats were deeply complicit in aiding and abetting Bush in his fabrications and legal skirt on the war. A fight to impeach Bush would be nothing more than a side show -- an empty, feel good exercise that squanders valuable time and energy House Democrats need to push through a minimum wage hike, an affordable prescription drug bill, lobbying and ethics reforms, tighter emissions controls, and a rollback of Bush’s tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations.

Even if Democrats could get traction on impeachment, the last thing that they want is Bush out of the White House. It was public frustration and rage at Bush’s bankrupt, self-defeating Iraq war policy that did more than anything else to catapult the Democrats firmly into the driver’s seat in the House and Senate. With Bush’s popularity wallowing at the Ocean’s depth, he is the Democrat’s top meal ticket. They can beat up on him at will to boost their ratings, burnish their political credentials, and slam Republican policies. They are banking on an unpopular, politically crippled Bush to propel them to even bigger election victories in 2008, and that includes bagging the White House.

No, it’s not Bush that the Democrats want and are more than happy to see go. It’s McKinney. McKinney was a major distraction. The Republicans would eagerly latch on to a loose remark, a slip, or a too shrill attack on Bush by her. They used it to tar Democrats as a party that coddles leftwing, radical extremists. They did the same with her impeachment bill. They jumped on it to pound McKinney and, by extension, Democrats as zanies who are itching to wage a vendetta against Bush. In fact, Pelosi herself found that out when she got dinged by some Democrat’s for her shoot-from-the-lip crack in May that an investigation into Bush’s energy policies might lead toward an impeachment move.

McKinney is bitter about all of that. Her Bush impeachment bill was never really about nailing Bush, but about getting back at House Democrats. She blames them, not Bush, for her getting the boot from Congress. During her failed reelection campaign against former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson, House Democrats slandered her in print and on the airwaves and tossed bundles of money at Johnson. In a parting shot speech at George Washington University a few days before she introduced her impeachment bill, she spent more time lambasting the Democrats for snuggling up to the Republicans than Bush policies.

That was vintage McKinney, and it’s what made her an outcast among her fellow Democrats. That was glaringly apparent after her joust with a Capital police officer in March. At her initial press conference, McKinney screamed racism and defiantly refused to apologize. Not one House Democratic leader or member of the Congressional Black Caucus stood by her side, nor publicly spoke in her defense.

Then there’s McKinney’s almost clinical dislike of Pelosi. The speaker-designate flatly turned down McKinney’s request to get her seniority spot back on a House committee after she won reelection in 2004. The two were barely on speaking terms during most of the two years of her final term.

McKinney’s Bush impeachment bill is her last hurrah. It will die a quick and quiet death when the 109th Congress ends. There will undoubtedly be more talk during the next Congress about dumping Bush, and that’s what it will and should be: just talk. Meanwhile private citizen McKinney can say whatever she pleases about getting rid of Bush. The Democrats won’t be listening.

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