Published on Wednesday, March 1, 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Supervisors Ask Lawmakers to Impeach Bush
by Edward Epstein, Charlie Goodyear
San Francisco's supervisors jumped into national politics Tuesday, passing a resolution asking the city's Democratic congressional delegation to seek the impeachment of President Bush for failing to perform his duties by leading the country into war in Iraq, eroding civil liberties and engaging in other activities the board sees as transgressions.
The supervisors, in voting 7-3 for the resolution, made it likely that San Francisco again will become grist for radio and TV talk shows. The city has appeared in the national media spotlight recently for voters' passage in November of a nonbinding measure banning military recruiters from public high schools and for Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval's recent comment on a Fox News show that the United States doesn't need a military.
Supervisor Chris Daly, one of the most progressive members of the board, sponsored the resolution, which also calls for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. Daly said the measure is justified in light of the administration's case for and handling of the war in Iraq, the federal government's inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina and recent revelations about a domestic wiretapping program.
"I think the case is clear, and I think it's appropriate for us to weigh in," Daly said.
Speaking in opposition to the resolution, Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier said, "I don't think that we need to be calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, as much as we may not like them ... and as much as we don't like the policies that they put forward."
Joining Alioto-Pier in voting against the resolution were Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Sophie Maxwell. Supervisor Jake McGoldrick was absent.
Mayor Gavin Newsom didn't want to pick up the impeachment drumbeat, but he offered a sarcastic response when asked his position on the nonbinding resolution.
"It's probably going to shatter the status quo in this country when it passes,'' he said with a smile. "I imagine, immediately, Congress will probably convene into session and begin impeachment proceedings.''
Still, Newsom said he hasn't decided whether he will sign the legislation.
"On the list of 1 to 3,000, it's not even on that list of priorities for me to sign a resolution -- that will have no force and effect -- talking about impeachment,'' said Newsom, a partisan Democrat and frequent critic of the president's policies.
In sending the resolution to Bay Area members of Congress, the supervisors addressed a frustrated group that is tired of being in the minority.
"Real change in the direction of our country will come about when the Republicans no longer control the executive and legislative branches,'' said Rep. Tom Lantos of San Mateo, whose district includes the southwestern corner of San Francisco. "We need to take control of the House, elect more Democratic senators and take control of the White House in 2008.''
The House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who represents much of San Francisco, was asked about impeaching Bush during a January town meeting at Marina Middle School.
Pelosi, poised to become the first female House speaker if the Democrats win control in November's election, repeated Tuesday what she told her constituents: "Win the election. Then you can change the policy of our country.''
Asked if San Francisco was setting itself up again as the target of talk-show barbs, she said, "It's a democratic society. The Board of Supervisors does what it does.''
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, wouldn't comment directly on the idea of impeaching Bush. But she noted that as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she has been frustrated trying to get information about the secret National Security Agency eavesdropping program.
"We're in the minority. We press and press, and all we get is stonewalled,'' said Feinstein, who is running for re-election in November.
The supervisors' vote might not generate the ridicule one would expect from conservative talk radio, said Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers Magazine.
"I don't think the vote will be a joke because George Bush is in more trouble with his conservative backers than ever, particularly talk radio hosts,'' said Harrison, whose magazine covers the talk radio business.
Many conservatives are angry at the president over such issues as the planned takeover of operations at six major U.S. ports by a company controlled by the government of Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates, the secret spying and the bungled handling of Cheney's shooting of a hunting companion.
And Newsom wasn't worried the board's action would hurt San Francisco's reputation.
"I don't think it damages the city in any significant ways," he said. "I think the things we're ridiculed about ... are some of the proudest moments in the city in terms of advancing our values -- and they tend to transcend our borders.''
Edward Epstein reported from Washington, D.C., and Charlie Goodyear from San Francisco. Chronicle staff writer Rachel Gordon contributed to this report.
© 2006 San Francisco Chronicle