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Stakes for 2006 Election: Impeachment

Reported by Judy - March 4, 2006

Faced with sinking poll numbers of Der Fuhrer, a Fox News panelist warned Friday (March 3, 2003) that George Bush may face impeachment if Republicans lose control of Congress in the fall's midterm elections.

Mort Kondracke, editor of Roll Call and a regular on the All Star panel on "Special Report with Brit Hume," made the prediction during a discussion of recent poll numbers showing Bush's approval rating averaging 38.7 percent, according to realclearpolitics.com.

Nina Easton of the Boston Globe had noted that besides the Dubai Ports World deal, Bush's popularity also is being pulled down by the continual revival of the story of Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina, which she called "the story that keeps on giving" for Democrats. Every time a new report or tape comes out on the federal response to Katrina, she said, the public is reminded that federal agencies that are supposed to protect the people failed to do so.

Bill Sammon, of the Washington Examiner, spouted the Bush line, saying that "the lion's share of blame lies with local officials" on response to Katrina. Then he went on to claim that Bush's poll numbers are not out of line, since the last seven presidents have had approval ratings in the 30s at some point in their terms. Of course, of those seven, Lyndon Johnson chose not to seek re-election, Richard Nixon was impeached, Gerald Ford was defeated, Jimmy Carter was not re-elected, and neither was George H. W. Bush. Not a particularly strong point to make in trying to minimize the effect of the poll numbers.

Easton pointed out, however, that when Bill Clinton's were in the 30s in 1994, Republicans gained control of the House for the first time in 40 years. "There are a lot of very, very nervous Republican congressmen out there," she said. (Earlier this week, she had said control of Congress was less likely to shift this time since fewer seats are up for grabs this year than in 1994.)

Kondracke then trotted out what is likely to be the White House fall-back position in coming months as to why Republicans should stick with Bush all the way to the bottom. "If Democrats get ahold of the House of Representatives, they are going to make life pure hell for the Bush administratiion for the next two years. They are going to investigate and the question is, can they restrain themselves from filing articles of impeachment. I think the stakes are that high," he said.

We can only hope.

But is protecting their president from impeachment a strong incentive for Republicans in Congress to stick with Bush's unpopular positions, such as the port deal? A politician's first goal is to get re-elected. How does backing an unpopular president help with that? Democrats need to make sure that Republicans in Congress are tied as closely to Bush as possible in the public's mind.

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