Austin--I just spent the weekend in this state capital, talkin' impeachment at a meeting organized by the Texas Green Party, World Can't Wait and Austin Impeach (www.austinimpeach.org), and was flying back home via Atlanta. As I was boarding my flight, the pilot, an Air Force veteran like many commercial pilots, looked at the bold "Impeach Bush and Cheney" emblazoned across my chest, smiled and said, "I like your shirt." Some 20 minutes later when the flight attendant came through serving drinks and I asked for a bottle of red wine, she handed me a bottle and then waved away my proffered five dollars. "With that shirt, you don't have to pay," she said to me. The Texas and Georgia passengers sitting around me laughed appreciatively.
The mood in America is shifting rapidly, and President Bush has gone from hero to goat.
On this trip to the state where George Bush launched his disastrous political career, I purposely decided to wear my impeachment shirt while traveling, as a way of gauging popular sentiment. I'll confess that, having experienced some ugliness back in the '60s, when wearing long hair and a beard into the wrong bar or neighborhood could be dangerous, I was a little anxious at first.
I needn't have worried.
Instead of holding me up at the security gate in Newark, TSA inspectors there complimented me on my prominent call to oust their boss. I got more favorable comments from people waiting at the gate for the flight to San Antonio, including from several guys whose well-muscled physiques and buzz-cut hair suggested they were military.
Not one person even scowled, much less took issue with the sentiment expressed on the shirt.
It got more amazing when I landed in San Antonio, where two men in military fatigues separately flashed discreet thumbs-up signs as they passed me in the terminal.
Austin, of course, which bills itself as the live music capital of America, the city that gave us Stevie Ray Vaughn and Janis Joplin, among others, that has a clothing-optional city park known as "Hippie Hollow," and that boasts a 100-strong Wicca coven and an annual "Keep Austin Weird" road race, was no problem at all. In restaurants, coffee shops and at the airport, I was complimented on the shirt and peppered with questions about where to buy it (the answer: www.afterdowningstreet.org).
But even later, when I flew back and had a plane change in Atlanta, the story was the same. Only support, and not a word of opposition.
It seems clear to me: Americans have had it with the Bush administration.
Unfortunately, this shift is not yet clear to the power elite.
The Austin impeachment event, despite being well publicized and despite the attendance of over 150 people, only attracted one mainstream reporter, a guy with a video cam from Channel 42, the local CBS affiliate, in attendance. There was no mention of the event the next day in the local daily paper.
Nor has the nation's major daily, The New York Times, or any of the major TV news programs, even mentioned the fact that there is already a Cheney impeachment bill (H Res 333) in the House, with 14 co-sponsors, or that an independent, scientific poll last week found that 54 percent of Americans want Cheney impeached, while 46 percent want Bush impeached.
On the political front, the Democratic leadership in Congress still hasn't budged on impeachment. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, cosseted in her wood-paneled Speaker's suite, a continent away from her angry constituents, still insists that impeachment is "a waste of time," while Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, refuses to even discuss the Cheney impeachment bill that's been sitting on his desk for months awaiting action.
Despite this shameful silence and obstructionism, though, my experience with the T-shirt tells me that the impeachment movement is sweeping the country. Cindy Sheehan, the pioneer peace and impeachment activist, has aborted her brief retirement and is threatening to run against Pelosi in the Speaker's home district in San Francisco if she doesn't stop the war funding and let impeachment proceed in the House.
In the meantime, the circulation of the debased newspapers of the nation, and the viewership of the debased network news programs, continue to plummet, as Americans increasingly recognize that they are not doing their job of informing the public.
It seems clear to me that a tectonic shift has finally occurred in the nation's political mood. It wasn't the November election, though. It has been the continued war and occupation of Iraq, and the craven inaction of the Democratic leadership in Congress.
Now, finally, ordinary people are getting fed up. Iraq vets are acting up and joining Iraq Veterans Against the War. Active duty soldiers like Erin Watada and Rev. Lennox Yearwood are standing up. What does this all mean?
Bush and Cheney can be driven from office!
This criminal, bloody war in Iraq can be ended!