DFATucson has been pressing Gabby Giffords for awhile now to get off the dime on impeachment and, as a very minimal sign that she's willing to fulfill the Constitutional role for which we hired her, perhaps sign a letter being circulated by Rep. Wexler calling for investigations of possible criminal acts by the Bush Administration (which could lead to an impeachment).
To that end, DFATucson has been demonstrating with a "Honk to Impeach" rally outside Gabby's office every Monday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. (drive time). The rallies have been very well-received by the public and have brought a lot of awareness to members of Gabby's staff how much sentiment in favor of impeachment there is among the public, as well as some press coverage.
One good thing the Gabby did was direct her Chief of Staff, Maura Policelli and much of the rest of her local staff to meet with DFATucson regarding impeachment. Video of that meeting will be available online very soon.
DFATucson recently got an email from Policelli recently outlining the Congesswoman's position on impeachment:
"The bottom line is that Congresswoman Giffords will not be signing on to impeachment legislation, resolutions or letters. I know that is a disappointment to your group, but assure you that Gabrielle is working tirelessly on many local problems and national issues of great significance."
In other words, Gabby's not willing to lift a finger to protect the Constitution from the criminals inhabiting our White House.
What I find most mystifying about Giffords' attitude is her apparent blindness (though, admittedly it isn't just her, but the entire gang of "Shrumian" consultants that she and Democrats like her are wont to heed) to the strategic politics of impeachment.
The standard Democratic defense of sitting on our thumbs regarding impeachment goes like this: we are winning the debate, so don't change the terms. We are headed toward an easy victory in 2008 with a Democratic President and larger margins in Congress (maybe even a filibuster-proof majority), so why allow the Republicans to stir up a mess over impeachment, accusing us of using it as a political ploy (which they would certainly be able to recognize from experience, I guess...). You are just playing into their hands and walking our Democratic candidates into a political buzz saw with no benefit. These guys are lame ducks and out of there in less than a year anyhow...
This is kind of political deep thought that gives us Democrats consultants with win-loss records like Bob Shrum, hence my derision for these political Solons as "Shrumians." This line of thought might seem like prudent wisdom to you, but in fact it is just an example of how Democratic strategists have so consistently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory so frequently in recent years.
It can be summed up in a single word: timidity.
The voters don't much care for it, and politics isn't very kind to those who are characterized by it. Timidity is the reason why Congress' polling is in the toilet no matter how much good and useful legislation they manage to pass. People can smell it in their leaders—and Americans don't respect the timid. Americans would much rather you be bold and wrong than timid and right. They worship you and put you on our money if your happen to be lucky and wise enough to be bold and right.
Let's take Gabby's race against Tim Bee as an exemplar for a tight contest in a swing state, which it really is, and think about the political consequences of impeachment rearing it's "game changing," "suck the air out of the room," "playing into the GOP's hands" head.
What is the first thing that would happen if Gabby in some way advocated impeachment? Why the GOP would attack her as a loon, and accuse her of playing politics. Great. She gets a few news cycles to lay out all the very specific and well-documented ways in which this Administration has broken the law and violated the public trust. Her cred with the Democractic base and at least 2/3rds of independents goes through the roof.
Now, Tim Bee gets a choice. Does he join in the baying from the GOP, or does he lay low? From what I know of Tim, he may lie low and try to say little. Why? Because the last thing he wants to spend his slice of the public's attention on is defending the record of the Bush Administration's excesses and policy failures. He wants to run as some other kind of Republican... preferably one that isn't from the Republican Party that contains Bush and Cheney and their menagerie of chuckleheads, NeoCons, and religious maniacs.
Which is why the worst possible thing for the GOP is to make this election about Bush's record. Which is why we should make it about Bush's record. He's a lame duck, so the only way to do that with any political potency is by injecting the issue of impeachment into the election.
Gabby and her "Shrumians" hope that by trying to appear moderate and prudent and vewy, vewy qwiet, she can eek out a victory over Tim in November. Tim hopes pretty much the same thing. Either of them could be right about the outcome with that strategy. More likely Gabby will be proven right—but it's no sure thing.
How to turn that into a landslide? By hanging Bush around Bee's neck like a rotting albatross, and making Tim try to convince voters it smells good. Defending Bush against the threat of impeachment is the only way to get Bee to stand up for the Bush legacy.
Once Bee is forced into that corner, he's done. No squeaky margins—we have a landslide. Independents and Democrats will deliver hard and enthusiastic margins and even a lot of Republicans won't be able to stomach Bee defending wiretapping, torture, politicizing our justice system, outing our intelligence assets for political revenge, and unconstitutional signing statements, just to name of few of the acts Bee could be forced to answer for or publicly repudiate.
Many in Gabby's camp think they need moderate Republican votes to beat Bee. They are only going to get them if Bee cannot be seen as any sort of moderate Republican. Nor does Gabby need them if she fully engages the ire of the independents against the last 6 years of Republican rule. Only by luring the Bee into the Bush, as it were, will independent produce the huge Democratic margins that they will when the issue is the Bush record.
By making this election only about the future, and failing to acknowledge and make strategic political use of the history we just suffered through by taking impeachment "off the table," Gabby and Democrats like her are giving their Republican rivals a chance to redefine themselves and distance themselves from the Bush legacy that is rightfully theirs to bear.
By running solely on how she and the rest of the Democratic Congress are "working tirelessly on many local problems and national issues of great significance," Gabby is ensuring the kind of tight race that impels her to such contemptible timidity in the face of outrageous assaults on the rule of law and our constitutional order.