I got an unsolicited personal email from Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean today. On a Sunday morning, the DNC chief wrote me to take issue with a claim I'd made a week or so back in this space and in Counterpunch magazine about pressure from party leaders being the reason not one member of the House has filed a bill of impeachment against our serially unconstitutional president.
A personal message! That article sure must have hit a nerve!
"The DNC is not in the business of telling Congress to go easy on this President," Dean wrote. "I'd be grateful if you could correct the report."
It's nice to be noticed as a columnist, and I will clarify my point. I agree that the DNC as an organization is not telling Congress anything. But that said, I've also learned from people close to the members of Congress who've been feeling the heat that Democratic Party leaders--the people who run the DNC and such other key party organizations as the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic House Campaign committee--are putting intense pressure on members to prevent a bill of impeachment.
Those same people are the reason that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), found himself all alone for days after he filed a bill in the Senate proposing to censure President Bush for his crime of secretly authorizing illegal warrantless electronic spying on Americans by the National Security Agency. They're the reason why even after intense citizen lobbying, only two other Democratic senators, Tom Harken of Iowa and Barbara Boxer of California, have co-sponsored Feingold's motion.
Dean, who felt the sulferous breath of the DNC beast on his neck during his maverick presidential nomination bid in 2004, should know better.
The dead weight of "mainstream" Democratic losers like Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Charles Schumer, who want the Democratic Party to remain a top-down, hollowed-out shell of an organization incapable of challenging Republican power, are frightened silly by the groundswell of public sentiment for impeachment, and for ending the war in Iraq. They are busy undercutting progressive candidates for office, financing "acceptable" candidates (who are likely to lose their races), and preventing independent action and confrontation in Congress ala Feingold's motion.
Fifteen years ago, the late Rep. Henry Gonzalez of Texas filed an impeachment motion against the first President Bush for his invasion of Iraq, which Gonzalez said was unconstitutional. He did it on his own, and nobody stopped him, though the president went after him for it later.
Where is today's Henry Gonzalez, when the current president's impeachable crimes, including his illegal invasion of Iraq, are so much more serious?
The answer is that the Democratic Party leadership has beaten them into silence, fearful that they won't get campaign money, or that the party will punish them in some other way, through lost committee assignments or perhaps even a primary challenge.
Sen. Feingold is a welcome exception to the prevailing cowardice that grips the Democratic Party incumbents in House and Senate.
But it is a good sign that Chairman Dean has taken the time to fire off a note to me, a lowly internet columnist, asking for a correction. He and the rest of the party's leadership must be worried that the grassroots are rebelling.
For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .