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A Pro-Impeachment Republican's Defense of Nancy Pelosi

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan recently announced that she will run as an independent against Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, unless Pelosi moves to impeach President Bush within two weeks.Pelosi is going to do no such thing, and she probably has little to fear from Sheehan. Sheehan is superb at grand gestures, but Pelosi has a much better idea of what is necessary to get elected and to get things done in Washington, D.C.

Sheehan is mad because she thinks that the American involvement in Iraq will not end before January 20, 2009 unless the current administration is removed before then, and that impeachment is the only legitimate way this can be done. And she is mad at Pelosi because the Speaker has refused to lead an impeachment movement in the House of Representatives.

From my perspective as a life-long Republican who supports impeachment, Pelosi has done the right thing. Conviction on an impeachment takes two thirds of the Senate and will require support from both parties. Of course, to produce the desired results, any impeachment would have to include both the President and Vice President Cheney. Since Bush and Cheney are Republicans, a bipartisan impeachment process must be started by Republicans in the House of Representatives, not by Democrats, and least of all by Pelosi, whose legitimacy as President after Bush and Cheney are removed must be protected at all costs.


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Sheehan's fundamental mistake is to target her complaints at congressional Democrats. This mistake is natural enough, since the Democrats are closer to her own position on the war. And it is a widely shared mistake, since virtually all calls for impeachment have been addressed to Democrats and to Democratic politicians. This is such a common mistake in politics that there is a special term we use to refer to it: "preaching to the choir."

The actual targets of any successful impeachment movement will have to be Republicans and Republican politicians. When seeking political allies, one does not worry too much about what motivates people to cooperate, and there are various motives---noble and otherwise---that might attract Republican leaders to an impeachment movement. Some might join up for policy reasons, having concluded that the Iraq war is lost and it is crazy to continue it until January 2009. Some might support impeachment in order to save the Republican Party from probable disaster, given the Iraq war's great unpopularity. Some might even support impeachment in order to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming the first woman President!

More and more prominent Republicans have been pulling back from their support for the Bush-Cheney war policies. Senators Smith and Hagel have now been joined by Senators Lugar, ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Voinovich, and Domenici. It would probably take about twenty Republican Senators, added to most Democratic ones, to get a two-thirds vote for conviction in the Senate.

Paul F. deLespinasse

Paul F. deLespinasse, who now lives in Oregon, is professor emeritus of political science at Adrian College in Michigan. He can be reached via his website,

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