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May 18, 2006
What, Me Impeach?

Congressman John Conyers redefines disingenuity in today's Washington Post by proclaiming Republicans dishonest when they say that he wants to impeach the President. All he wants, he says, is some answers from the Bush administration:

As Republicans have become increasingly nervous about whether they will be able to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections, they have resorted to the straw-man strategy of identifying a parade of horrors to come if Democrats gain the majority. Among these is the assertion that I, as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush.

I will not do that. I readily admit that I have been quite vigorous, if not relentless, in questioning the administration. The allegations I have raised are grave, serious, well known, and based on reliable media reports and the accounts of former administration officials. ...

So, rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses. The oversight I have suggested would be performed by a select committee made up equally of Democrats and Republicans and chosen by the House speaker and the minority leader.

The committee's job would be to obtain answers -- finally. At the end of the process, if -- and only if -- the select committee, acting on a bipartisan basis, finds evidence of potentially impeachable offenses, it would forward that information to the Judiciary Committee. This threshold of bipartisanship is appropriate, I believe, when dealing with an issue of this magnitude.

Apparently Nancy Pelosi has tasked Conyers with the unenviable mission of unringing a bell, and Conyers has no compunction against painting Republicans as paranoid by telling people he really isn't out to get Bush. However, Conyers has a track record he can't hide -- although he's attempted to do so, as you'll see -- and that track record shows that Conyers lied in his article today.

For instance, eleven months ago Conyers chaired a committee hearing in the Capitol basement. This panel comprised House democrats who opposed the Bush administration and supposedly wanted to get some answers, too. However, as Dana Milbank noted at the time for the Washington Post -- the same paper in which we find Conyers' column today -- that the panel only heard witnesses espousing one particular point of view:

In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe.

They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other chairmanly phrases, such as "unanimous consent" and "without objection so ordered." The dress-up game looked realistic enough on C-SPAN, so two dozen more Democrats came downstairs to play along.

The session was a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war. As luck would have it, all four of the witnesses agreed that President Bush lied to the nation and was guilty of high crimes -- and that a British memo on "fixed" intelligence that surfaced last month was the smoking gun equivalent to the Watergate tapes. Conyers was having so much fun that he ignored aides' entreaties to end the session.

One witness at this debacle turned out to be Ray McGovern, who showed up and starting talking about Jewish conspiracies to hand control of the Middle East to Israel. This inspired the rally outside of the Capitol supporting Conyers' impeachment "hearing" to pass out flyers explaining how Israel had prior warning of 9/11 and warned Jews not to go to work that morning. They also outshone the SEC by revealing Jewish plots to short specific stocks on 9/11 to maximize their profit from the terrorist attacks. McGovern, you may recall, is the darling of the Left that harangued Rumsfeld about being a liar in a recent town-hall style meeting, but that's another story altogether.

Even with this through-the-looking-glass moment on his record, Conyers wants us to believe that he has no intention of pursuing impeachment and that the meanie Republicans are smearing him. However, up until last week Conyers' own web site encouraged visitors to demand investigations into the Bush administration and to "Make Recommendations Regarding Grounds for Possible Impeachment if Warranted". Since May 13th -- just five days ago -- this appears to have been altered. This page shows Conyers' current plea, which asks visitors to sign a pledge only for investigations into abuses of power. This Google cache, which I've copied to my own site to ensure its retention, shows Conyers' aim for impeachment.

Conyers is a liar, and not a very good liar at that. He has tried for at least a year to get Democrats to start impeachment proceedings, losing patience to the point where he just held them himself in frustration. As Milbank reported at the time, the only thing Conyers lacked was subpoena power. "'Tis the beginning of our work," he told the Democrats on his ersatz impeachment panel back then. Suddenly faced with accountability in the upcoming elections, Conyers wants to pull wool over the eyes of the electorate by erasing evidence and accusing Republicans of paranoia. Get used to this level of deceit and chutzpah if the Democrats take Congress this fall.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 18, 2006 5:12 AM

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