Player of the Week: Dennis Kucinich
A little less than five months ago, Rep. Dennis Kucinich dropped out of the presidential race and went home to Ohio to find himself enmeshed in a tough Democratic primary fight for reelection to the House. His opponent charged that he was neglecting his district after becoming too enamored of national attention and being a liberal darling.
Kucinich was able to return to Cleveland in time to convince voters to keep supporting him, winning the primary by 15 points. It's not clear whether Kucinich is any more or less dedicated to local issues than he was before that scare, but the Ohioan definitely hasn't been frightened into staying out of the national spotlight. For evidence, just look at this past week, when Kucinich dropped 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush and then kept the House open for several hours on consecutive nights so they could be read into the Congressional Record.
Kucinich is decidedly in the minority in the House on this issue. Though all Democrats voted this week to refer the impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee, very few members actually want hearings (it's likely there won't be any) and only three have signed on as cosponsors.
There also isn't much evidence that a majority of Americans want to see Bush or Vice President Cheney impeached. Polls on the subject have fluctuated, but most seem to show pro-impeachment forces in the minority. That minority, however, is very passionate and very vocal. They flock to pro-impeachment Web sites. They sign petitions. They flood the e-mail inboxes of lawmakers (and those of reporters writing on the subject). And Kucinich is their hero.
So is there any chance that the impeachment effort will succeed? Bush has just seven months left in office, his party is suffering from widespread national "brand" problems and there is a real chance that Democrats will own the White House come Jan. 20, 2009. House Democratic leaders have no interest in any further action on impeachment, fearing that they would be accused of engaging in partisan stunts instead of legislating.
Kucinich says he's unwilling to take no for an answer. He vowed this week that impeachment would be back in 30 days (with 60 articles this time, not 35) if the Judiciary Committee doesn't hold hearings. So expect to see Kucinich spending a lot more hours on the House floor this summer reading aloud why he believes Bush has committed high crimes.
Should Kucinich instead be spending that time attending to the parochial needs of his district? Ohio voters will have another chance to weigh in this November, but he stands little chance of losing in a heavily Democratic district.
Which means that come January, he'll still be here in Washington stirring the pot. Bush will be gone though, even if Kucinich never gets the chance to push him out the door.
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