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May 11, 2006
Pelsoi: What, Us Impeach?

Nancy Pelosi has backpedaled on her coy remarks about the possibility of impeaching George Bush if the Democrats win control of the House in November. She told the Washington Post last week that "you never know where [investigations] lead to," when asked about impeachment with her demand for numerous Congressional investigations into the Bush administration. When that touched off a roar of protest from Republicans and even some Democrats anxious to avoid rallying conservatives to the polls in the midterms, Pelosi meekly changed course:

Seeking to choke off a Republican rallying cry, the House's top Democrat has told colleagues that the party will not seek to impeach President Bush even if it gains control of the House in November's elections, her office said last night.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told her caucus members during their weekly closed meeting Wednesday "that impeachment is off the table; she is not interested in pursuing it," spokesman Brendan Daly said.

Some House Democrats, including ranking Judiciary Committee member John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, have called for impeachment hearings into allegations that Bush misled the nation about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and that he violated federal law by approving warrantless wiretaps on Americans. ... Daly said Pelosi never considered impeachment a priority. Republicans "are in such desperate shape," he said, "we don't want to give them anything to grab on to." He said Conyers agrees with Pelosi's thinking.

I find it interesting that it took over a day for Pelosi's office to release this rather intriguing pledge -- and that they did so even after the hysteria-fest over the NSA datamining project. Why did it take so long for Pelosi to announce that decision, one which she apparently imposed on the caucus?

If she hoped to sneak in under the radar, with the press and the blogosphere distracted by the five-month old NSA story, she may wish she had kept her mouth shut. After seeing the reactions of Democratic activists and politicians on the USA Today article, this seems like a particularly inapt time to declare Democratic wishes for a Bush impeachment out of bounds. If Pelosi found the criticism from her party's moderates and strategists unpleasant, just wait until she has to explain her diktat to the rest of the group.

However, if anyone takes Pelosi at her word, they're being foolish. Pelosi just wanted to defuse an issue she practically gift-wrapped for GOP officials. If Conyers takes over the House Judiciary Committee after November, he will not sit on his hands for long. Besides, if impeachment really is out of the question for the Democrats, then why hold the investigations in the first place? That sounds like an implicit admission that these dramatic demands are nothing more than political witch-hunts, and they know well that Bush has done nothing for which he could be impeached.

If Pelosi gains the speaker's gavel, you can bet that anything dug up by the Democrats, no matter how insubstantial, will provide Pelosi with the excuse she needs to rationalize away her new-found reluctance on impeachment. Given the tenor of the debate on the Left, it's possible that she would squander the political support for a Congressional majority if she took no impeachment action against Bush. If she fails in that mission, she could lose the House once more in 2008. Pelosi knows this, so consider this nothing more than a temporary tactical retreat.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 11, 2006 10:28 PM

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