Is John Conyers Flushing His Legacy Down the Toilet?

This post, written by David Swanson, originally appeared on After Downing Street

About 47 of us spent 8 or 9 hours yesterday in jail for protesting a man who, at least when he woke up yesterday morning, only thought of himself as on the side of those who protest power.

While hundreds of us lined the hallways outside Chairman John Conyers' office, one of his staffers approached the door to his office but was unable to enter. The place was wall-to-wall media inside, with Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGovern, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood giving a press conference in Conyers' office in his absence. They'd gone in to speak with Conyers, but it would take him quite a while to show up.

The staffer was annoyed and complained to his colleague "It's bad enough they shut the office down with phone calls." Another staffer, this one rather pleased about it (the police, too, were on our side and three of them quietly accepted Impeach Bush and Cheney shirts), told me they were getting a pro-impeachment phone call every 30 seconds. They were also flooded with Emails and with thousands of faxes yesterday. But the message was not getting through to the Congressman.

He and several staffers met with Sheehan, McGovern, and Yearwood. It was a heated discussion. Conyers began by proposing to discuss impeachment sometime in August at a town hall meeting. We've been doing those for years. We held a huge one in Detroit in May that Conyers agreed to speak at. He showed up and left before it started. Yearwood, Sheehan, and McGovern told Conyers his time was up.

What was Conyers' objection to moving forward on impeachment now? Well, he said, if he were to do that Fox News would go after him and accuse him of being partisan. I kid you not. The Democratic Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is basing his decisions on whether a Republican cable TV station would approve. As Cindy Sheehan told me outside the jail last night: "If I based my decisions on Fox, I would never do anything."

As long as Conyers is working for Fox, maybe our next sit-in needs to be in their studios.

But Conyers expressed another concern as well. He's concerned about his legacy. I wish there were a kind way to tell him that he is about to flush it down the toilet. Conyers' judiciary committee staffers, who were in the meeting yesterday, including Ted Kalo, Perry Appelbaum, and Jonathan Godfrey, produced a year and a half ago one of the best reports summarizing and documenting the crimes of Bush and Cheney. Conyers is aware that Bush and Cheney are killing people every day that he refrains from fulfilling his oath of office. He knows that nearly a million Iraqis and 4,000 U.S. troops lie dead already. He knows that this president and vice president kidnap, torture, and murder human beings. But when pressed to act with the urgency appropriate to saving lives, Conyers replied that our nation has always killed people and that he wasn't "going to play politics."

At other times, Conyers told our delegation that they needed to wise up and move from working on justice to doing politics. But politics has become a bad word because of the way Conyers uses it. He places elections highest in the order of priorities and refuses to do his job in between elections because that would be "politics."

We elected Democrats in 2006 so that Conyers would have the committee chairmanship and move on impeachment. If he fails to act, he will quickly discover that yesterday was just a warm-up.

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