Thursday, June 09, 2005

Force Their Hand

This is all well and good and spot-on blah blah blah, but no one should expect any different. In the specific case of the Post, Katherine Graham immediately stepped back from the victory of Nixon's resignation: toppling the corrupt should not became a habit, another Watergate would topple more than a President, it might topple the system. The rest of the press -- no, it did not follow suit; it was not a conspiracy -- thought the same way.

I don't recall my source for this but I do remember reading somewhere that Graham laid down the law in private, which was revealed through Post policy. Eventually it became so ingrained that.. that, well, we know what it's like now. I think the lack any of heads a' rolling from Iran-Contra proved it. It was common talk then among newsies that Iran-Contra was "too soon" after Watergate.

Sure, in a huge way, reticence and modesty disappeared since Nixon's political demise: everyone gossips. But I promise you gossip will not coagulate in the chattering classes as they currently exist if there is a real danger of reform coming. To get gossip to coagulate takes the concerted efforts of the press and the political opposition -- in the latter case, I mean actual politicians, not grass roots.

What about Clinton, you say? I have always believed that Clinton deserved investigation and possible impeachment for his campaign finance issues. But there is simply no way in hell Clinton's political opposition would have brought that charge, since they would have been guilty, too, and the filthy enterprise that passes for American elections might have been permanently cleansed by an outraged populace. Not gonna go that route. So his political opposition (aided greatly by the "liberal" media) leveled the sexual misconduct charge, which the public, of course, laughed off. The Repugs weren't gonna get impeachment, and they must have, at least on some level, known it. But they did create a diversion and political quagmire; Clinton was unable to pass any of the petty reforms that they feared (though they really shouldn't have worried).

The Attytood post linked in the first paragraph flat-out calls the Downing Street Memo an "impeachment-worthy story". Indeed it is. Of course the press has ignored it: they too, like the whole Republican party and most of the Dems, are controlled by Corporate America. An end to this war, an end to this administration, would be a rollback in profits; this administration was put in place for the precise purpose of corporate profit (hence Bush's instanteously huge war chest) and it has delivered. Yet we have a legal case (the moral case is self-evident). The forces arrayed against impeachment are myriad, and of course it cannot, actually, be done with the Republican majority in Congress.

But it might end the War in Iraq and might push Bush into his own quagmire if impeachment proceedings were mentioned by a Democrat in the House or Senate. Someone willing to be a martyr, to make the press report on the impeachment-worthy Memo, to make it flood the papers and airwaves with the story. Because if the story gets out, the time is ripe. Watergate and criminal Presidents are very much on everyone's mind. Billmon was right that there are plenty of former-Bushie whistleblowers come and gone already. But this British leaker is a real Mark Felt. The Downing Street Memo is a smoking gun. The press forced the issue with Watergate; the politicians eventually came around. The press will not do it this time, for the reasons I've given above, and also because they probably watched what happened to Mr. Gilligan of the BBC when he forced the issue with less evidence. So where are our John Andersons and Howard Bakers and Frank Churches? If the Memo is given the steady attention that the Post gave Watergate, we still may not be able to take Bush out, but we at least ought to be able to take him down. But that attention won't come unless a prominent politician forces the issue.

(Eh, now that I've glanced through the comments at Attytood, I see that someone has made the same comment about Graham and Iran-Contra that I did.)