Washington, Nov 2 - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced today that he will be offering a privileged resolution on the House floor next week that will bring articles of impeachment against the Vice President, Richard B. Cheney.
“The momentum is building for impeachment,” Kucinich said. “Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President’s abuse of power.
To say that Kucinich is entering treacherous waters is to put it mildly. Depending on your personal, political persuasions and preferences you may feel that Dick Cheney is deserving of anything from a seat in a Hague jail cell to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. But that's really not the issue here. Kucinich is attempting a huge, high stakes play that comes with a high potential cost if it fails. And failure looks almost certain.
Kucinich will be unable to avoid the perception that this is political theater (if not theater bizarre) with this move. He's running a losing presidential campaign which has never gained any traction, and every description of him seems to tend toward adjectives including loony. (Without even filing papers to enter the race, Stephen Colbert immediately beat him in the polls.) Even strident opponents of Cheney from the Democratic side of the aisle will be unlikely to want to sign on for what will appear to be nothing more than a political stunt.
Members of the House face an election every two years, and we're coming into the campaign season now. Fresh from their sweeping victory in 2006, and with nearly half the country saying they are either registered Democrats or "leaning" Democratic (Republicans are in the 30's on that count) the Dems smell blood in the water and are hoping for another huge win next year. They don't want to rock the boat on something that will discredit them. Also, some of the newly minted House members with a "D" after their name hail from traditionally more conservative districts. They can't afford to to be tied to something which will doubtless be portrayed as a far left wing play against the executive branch.
The Democrats have been able to accomplish pretty much nothing since moving back into the majority party offices. This is a result of careful and clever work by the GOP, combined with the looming threat of a veto by Bush for any legislation they do ram through. Every time they fail while holding the majority it's another black eye in public opinion, making them look impotent. Gearing up for an impeachment fight they will almost certainly lose could be yet another shot to their credibility.
During Clinton's administration the Republicans lowered the bar on impeachment so far that it's below sea level. Regardless of popular opinion and suspicions, absent any absolute proof of high crimes and misdemeanors by either Bush or Cheney, this will look like more political theater bizarre if it's pushed to a vote. There might be some great satisfaction to be drawn for many Americans from even the attempt to impeach Cheney, but it seems a reckless, foolish move, destined to fail and potentially backfire on both Kucinich and his party in general.