McGovern on Bush, Nixon

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Former Senator George McGovern

hide captionFormer Senator George McGovern

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Those of you perusing the Sunday Washington Post this past weekend, may have spilled your coffee at the sight of these words on the cover of the Outlook section.

As we enter the eighth year of the Bush-Cheney administration, I have belatedly and painfully concluded that the only honorable course for me is to urge the impeachment of the president and the vice president.

Impeachment is a strong word — and when it's bandied about in relation to the President of the United States, it's even stronger. Rarely are officials actually impeached, but calls for impeachment seem to represent a flash point for frustration — it can sometimes be less of a legal term, than an emotional one. Former Senator George McGovern's op-ed, calling for the impeachment of both the President and the Vice President, treads between very specific legal definitions and deep emotion. McGovern conceded the 1972 presidential election to Richard Nixon, who resigned in 1974 in the midst of the Watergate scandal — and McGovern claims that the case for impeachment of Bush is much stronger then it was for Nixon. McGovern will be in 3A with Neal today, and we'll grill him on his claims. If you didn't see the article, you can read it here.

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Is anyone on NPR ever going to mention that Kucinich's resolution calling for Cheney's impeachment was referred to the Judiciary Committee by the House back in November? And that at least 3 members of the committee have called on the "leadership" to begin impeachment hearings? And that over 180,000 people have signed an online petition in support? http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com/

Sent by Brian Lupiani | 2:47 PM | 1-9-2008

I believe they bothe SHOULD be impeached, and that it should have happened a long time ago. Just to start, they sent us into a war on false pretenses, they have stripped Americans of their civil rights, ignoring the Constitution. They have ignored laws set up to balance the Executive Branch's powers in order to gain more power for themselves, etc.

Sent by Dayv St. Pierre (pronounced like Dave, not Davey) | 3:44 PM | 1-9-2008

McGovern? I thought he was dead.

Sent by John Andere | 3:47 PM | 1-9-2008

God Bless you Mr. McGovern.

Sent by Edmund Bentivengo | 3:49 PM | 1-9-2008

Neil, could you find anyone more partisan than this man who, at his peak, was so rejected by the nation? Do you feel any need for balance her, being a public faccility?

Sent by Richard Warren | 3:49 PM | 1-9-2008

thank you senator mcgovern...i voted for you in my first presidential election in 1972 and have been fighting the republican rhetoric ever since. you are a true hero in my book.

Sent by michael | 3:49 PM | 1-9-2008

It is important to try to impeach even if we do not succeed. We need to re-establish the fact that America stands for human rights and not torture.

Sent by Billy Roettger | 3:50 PM | 1-9-2008

Can the president and vice-president be held accountable for actions taken while in office, after they leave office?

Sent by Kevin | 3:51 PM | 1-9-2008

Hear Hear! I was very disappointed when Pelosi said right off the bat that she wouldn't pursue this course. This administration is just one year from getting away with raping and assaulting not only our country but the entire world. They should have to pay.

Sent by Jennie | 3:51 PM | 1-9-2008

How can Blog of the Nation run a piece on McGovern's call for impeachment of both Cheney and Bush without including comments from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who actually presented the Call for Impeachment in the House? Shouldn't he be weighing-in on this very discussion?

Sent by L Baker | 3:51 PM | 1-9-2008

Neil, could you find anyone more partisan than this man who, at his peak, was so rejected by the nation? Do you feel any need for balance her, being a public faccility?

Sent by Richard Warren | 3:52 PM | 1-9-2008

He should be impeached and tried for war crimes and not with the current justice officials which he placed in position. All of the fired attornys should be voted back in by the people. Of the district. We no longer live in the 1800s we could phone in the vote we could make our decisions ourselves and you can inform us. I agree with the speaker let our enemies know what our true intent is not the intent of the elite. The next time anyone asks the questions of war on anything it should be voted by the people. I can call in on one of my technosavy phones!!

Sent by Keith White | 3:52 PM | 1-9-2008

I agree - I would refine this position and say that no one is above the law - ESPECIALLY the President and Vice President. Am I just getting old, or does this whole administration REEK of the Nixon era?

Sent by Debbi | 3:53 PM | 1-9-2008

Impeached, I think that Bush and Cheney be tried as war criminals.

Sent by ;Betty | 3:54 PM | 1-9-2008

Please:
Pres. Clinton was impeached on grounds of perjury (& suborning same) in a sexual harrassment case. Simply restating the myth of daliance doesn't change the facts.

Sent by Joel | 3:55 PM | 1-9-2008

I fully support Senator McGovern's position. For those that say that Impeachment is too devisive or disruptive, I would say that the Bush Administration's illegal behavior is far more devisive and disruptive. Impeachment is the remedy to such behavior. If it is not carried out now, what is to stop some future administation from even worse behavior??

Sent by Bob Keiser | 3:55 PM | 1-9-2008

Clinton should have been impeached because he lied to congress under oath.

Bush should not be impeached because he is a president making tough decisions in a time of the world that is difficult and requires someone willing to take the heat for attempting to do what he thinks is right.

You may need to grow a spine to agree with this.

Sent by Conan - Tucson | 3:55 PM | 1-9-2008

I was wondering if your guest could tell us which specific laws the president has broken?

How does the statement that Bush "misled" Congress fit with the commonly held vies on both sides of the aisle (at the time) that Iraq did in fact possess an active nuclear weapons development program?

Sent by Joe (last name withheld) | 3:55 PM | 1-9-2008

If Bush is impeached, do we really want Cheny as President?
Also, can Bush be tried for these and other crimes after he is of office?

Sent by John W. Pierron | 3:55 PM | 1-9-2008

Senator McGovern, If you want to place blame for the failed decisions of the war, the blame needs to fall on the people that led our president to believe that Iraq was the threat that it was. Please, grab you're fishing pole and go back to the lake.

Sent by Bob Murphy | 3:56 PM | 1-9-2008

I was wondering what the esteemed guest's opinion was regarding the Iran-Contra
scandal and Reagan's involvement, and wether there was any grounds for
impeachment there? I personally felt that there should have been an impeachment
movement in that case because Pres. Reagan purposely circumvented the power of Congress over purse strings to wage war. It was underhanded and very ugly, hurting our standing in the Central America for many decades to come.

Sent by Tina Rhodes | 3:57 PM | 1-9-2008

Even if it has to take until the last day of their administration, Bush and Cheney should be impeached. If they are left in place, how can we stop a future group that looks to rape and pillage the U.S. from the inside as this group has done?

Sent by Jerry Yeager | 3:57 PM | 1-9-2008

For Senator McGovern:

You are the first person I voted for and today I remain impressed with you. Thank you for your article.

The week that George Bush announced "Mission Accomplished", the New Yorker Magazine published an article by Seymour Hersh about the Office of Special Plans, its cherry-picking of discarded intelligence, and the teacher who was the mentor of NeoConservatives in that office, Leo Strauss. Strauss taught that the elite group that assumed leadership should engage in the "Noble Lie" -- purposely misinforming the public - using patriotism and an exagerrated terrible enemy -- to keep them in line.

If only people had read this article, we would not be in this shameful place. Thank you for your call for an honest healing by calling the administration to accountability.

* * * * * * *

A 2nd email:

Last Friday, such noted activists as Daniel Ellsberg, Harry Belafonte, Rocky Anderson, Tim Carpenter, Ralph Nader and more delivered a letter to John Conyers Jr. to encourage him to investigate this administration's abuse of power.

Dennis Kucinich may be the smallest, most belittled, candidate for President, but he is also the most courageous, and his call for impeachment has moved into the next step.

If we do not impeach for all of this, what will it take?

* * * * * * *

A 3rd:

If it???s too late to impeach, there???s still indictment.

Finally, for Neal, the 2004 election should not be seen as support for Bush. There is a new movie entitled "Uncounted" that everyone should see. The 2004 election was stolen and shoved through certification.

Sent by Barbara Bellows-TerraNova | 3:57 PM | 1-9-2008

Senator McGovern is talking about something that sorely needs discussing. I, too, feel President Bush and Vice President Cheney are running an illegal war and mislead the Congress and American people. How are we going to change the culture of fear that allowed these actions to be taken in the first place?
PS I am not sure if you recall him but I am the grand-daughter of Hjalmar Nygaard who was a Representative to the House of Representatives from North Dakota in the 1950s-60s.

Sent by Sarah Larson | 3:57 PM | 1-9-2008

We (our family and friends) have been discussing impeachment since the beginning of the Iraq war for the reasons just stated. Unfortunately our elected officials don't seem to agree. I would think that especially our republician congress people and senators would be particular behind this considering that they were lied to and mislead into an illegal war.

Sent by antje joslin | 3:58 PM | 1-9-2008

Violation of "International Law" is not an impeachable offense. Neither the United States nor our President are bound by international law. We are a sovereign nation, bound only by our own constitution.

Sent by Isaac Lynch | 3:58 PM | 1-9-2008

I think although the chances of impeachment succeeding are slim, it would do two important things; 1) Send a message to the world that we do not stand behind a war criminals, hopefully raising our standing in the international community, and 2) Makes the possibility of holding Bush and Cheney accountable for their actions much more likely. Even if unsuccessful, it would be sending an important message to Washington; that not even the President of the United States is above the law. I'm 43 years old and am ashamed to be an American. We used to hold the high ground morally in the world - now there are countries that will not extradite to American because they recognize what a disgrace our justice systems has become. The torture debate makes me absolutely ill. I'd like to see Bush or Cheney hold up to waterboarding and see what they would "confess" to.

Sent by C.L. Westgard | 3:59 PM | 1-9-2008

I think impeachment is especially important for a president in his second term. I agree with the Senator???s interest in making a statement to the world that our president???s actions have been unacceptable to the people of the US. Because we have a two term limit on the presidency, the president loses a large measure of accountability to the public. There is no opportunity for the public to speak its voice into history through the electoral process. I would favor the removal of the two term limit on the presidency as a means of retaining more public accountability.

Sent by Tom Reid | 4:01 PM | 1-9-2008

I have wanted to see Bush impeached since the day he stepped into office. In fact it mystifies me that the president has not been impeached sooner. However, even if we started today, could we manage to complete an impeachment by the time Bush steps down. Even as marring to the memory of Bush's administration an attempted impeachment would be, it wouldn't be as satisfying as a completed impeachment. Aside from all of this, the former senator's position doesn't quell any of my feelings toward the government in this country. His position comes so late in Bush's time left in office, that it comes off as too little too late, even our nation's former senators are too shrewd to draw the line until the last minute.

Sent by Christopher Vear | 4:11 PM | 1-9-2008

With such egregious lawlessness and immoral actions, another failure is the silence of the mediating organizations, like churches, who are supposed to be a moral voice. We should look at that.

For instance, I worked for the Catholic Church for 23 years in the area of public policy and understand Catholic social teaching extremely well. The analysis that the war is immoral, and amounts to mass murder, among other things, is unquestionable by any cogent reasoning or review of the facts.

Theologians have asked the U.S. Bishops to speak up and say clearly that the war is unjust. Yet they do not, will not. Instead the focus remains on abortion and homosexuality backed by wealthy conservative Catholics.

I reiterate and rephrase what Daniel Ellsberg asked on NPR once: If mass murder is not reason enough to speak up, to risk not getting donations to your church, to risk a job, or a place at the White House press conference, or loosing an election next time around, etc, then what would ever be reason enough?

We ask soldiers to risk death for specious reasons. We obviously think something is worth others risking their lives. Yet mass murder, illegal and immoral war, including torture, does not even warrant the non-life threatening act of free speech that inconveniences us?

I believe this says that nothing would warrant really risking one's life. What does this say about us?

Herein lies the indictment of many, including the Catholic Bishops and NPR!

If Senator McGovern is correct, and the facts support him, where is the press in pursuing it? Pause kills human beings.

Sincerely

Larry Howe-Kerr
Pueblo West, CO

Sent by Larry Howe-Kerr | 4:13 PM | 1-9-2008

I'm concerned that Mr. McGovern has such a loose grip of the facts that he forgot that that President Clinton was impeached not for having sex with an intern, which is in some people's view a "sin", but for lying about it under oath, which is a crime in all fifty states. This doesn't help your show's integrity in my eyes

Sent by V Yeager | 4:20 PM | 1-9-2008

Impeachment defined by Mr. McGovern, and many other liberals are not viable. To do so would cause me to go to a Federal court and seek Treason charges for those who could not prove such charges. When one wish to side with other institutions, or other government bodies, instead the truth, deserves to face treason charges for dividing our nation. If President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, then President Clinton lied, along with various United Nations bodies pertaining to the Iraqi weapon inspection.

Sent by Robert L. Holloway | 4:24 PM | 1-9-2008

Barrie Hardymon claims that the Talk of the Nation show was going to be a grilling of Mr. McGovern. It sounded much more like a pat on the back to me.

Sent by Vaughn Yeager | 4:35 PM | 1-9-2008

Reading the majority of responses to the McGovern piece on-line was interesting. I'm not certain of demographic accuracy, but an un-official "poll" of the responses seems to show strong support for impeachment from the educated and well informed. As usual, the same old lame arguments are all I see presented in the Bush/Cheney defense camp. Is this the best they can do to support their issues? It occurs to me that they don't really even defend their positions, they simply cast allegations of impropriety (nothing too specific, mind you) and left-leaning journalism in support of their positions. Since when has NPR, National Public Radio, become synonymous with the "left"? Let's have some real debate, people. If there is a true defense of Bush/Cheney's abuses of power and misleading of Congress I'd like to hear it. I have yet to hear a single one that is not so full of holes it refuses to hold water.

Sent by CL Westgard | 4:49 PM | 1-9-2008

I was 13 when the news first broke that there had been a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C. Although I do not remember the initial coverage of the break-in, I cannot forget the incessant drumbeat of media coverage that followed, persisting straight through George McGovern's defeat in November, through inauguration day in January 1973, and stubbornly remaining on the front burner of America's collective consciousness for the next 20 months and beyond.

Just a few weeks after Nixon's second inauguration I went with my 8th grade class to D.C. where the Watergate hotel had already become another stop on the tour bus schedule. Later that year I remember daytime television programming being preempted by images of Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, and Fred Thompson, along with the rest of the Senate Watergate Committee as John Dean and others testified before them.

I remember Archibald Cox and the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon's battle with Judge John Sirica and the 18?? minutes of silence on the White House tapes. I remember Woodward and Bernstein, Deep Throat and Rose Mary Woods, and how in the middle of it all Spiro Agnew's resignation and Gerald Ford's appointment as replacement vice president was overshadowed by the constant coverage of Watergate, Watergate, Watergate. I remember all of it, some of it as though it happened last week.

I was young, but growing up in the Chicago area I'd become a fan of politics ever since the '68 Democratic National Convention, and a fan of Nixon ever since he promised he had a secret plan to get us out of Vietnam. One of the kids in my class had a brother who was killed by the Viet Cong. I spent hours arguing with one of my friends over Nixon's alleged guilt (I thought he was innocent). And if there's one thing that has been indelibly printed on my memory it is this: that Nixon's near-impeachment was preceded by mind-numbingly thorough investigations that established beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was more than sufficient evidence to proceed with impeachment in the House and a trial in the Senate. Nothing even close to this has taken place with respect to the alleged "crimes" of George W. Bush.

As much as I respect George McGovern and the contribution he has made to our country - and I sincerely do - he has really shot his mouth off in the most embarrassing manner this time. Whereas during the Watergate scandal he wisely laid back and allowed other to investigate and prosecute, today he has gone on a political offensive without even attempting to make a case for any of his charges. Where is the Smoking Gun that will inevitably indict Bush? Where is the White House counsel who has gone public to tell us that he warned him about a cancer on the presidency? Where is even the rough equivalent of burglar mug shots that might eventually allow us to trace a path of guilt and corruption to the Oval Office? Don't look for them in McGovern's diatribe, because he doesn't seem to think that the niceties of constitutional due process should be wasted on the current occupant of the White House.

Sent by Ron Henzel | 5:36 PM | 1-9-2008

Neal,
That you allowed McGovern perpetuate the lie that Clinton was impeached for a dalliance, demonstrates either a bias or incompetence or both.
I vote "BOATH

Sent by Dr. J. Curtis Kovacs | 6:23 PM | 1-9-2008

This is probably the worst interview I have ever heard on NPR. There is not now, nor has there ever been any shred of proof for any of the allegations presented by Mr. McGovern. Had there been, the Dems would have moved for impeachment long ago. Of all the outright lies and omissions in his op ed and in this interview, the most laughable is his observation that Clinton was impeached for sex. Clinton was impeached for perjury; of which there was ample and verifiable evidence. No such facts exist for President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Go back to sleep Mr. McGovern.

Sent by G.D. Veach | 8:25 PM | 1-9-2008

No investigation is needed to prosecute Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for fraud and crimes against humanity. Absolute, irrefutable, smoking-gun proof exists in the public domain that the Administration either KNEW, before the attack on Iraq, that there were NO stockpiles of WMD.
Either that, or they deliberately risked killing millions of innocent people, including our troops, by releasing those contagions and toxins into the atmosphere with the bombardment of Baghdad using those "Shock and Awe" bunker-busters.
Considering the nature of Saddam Hussein, the most likely place for him to hide his strategic materials, had he had any, would have been under Baghdad, where one would have to kill the most civilians to get at them.
Prima facia case.
I think we should wait until February, 2009 to charge them in criminal court. Impeachment is too good for these guys.

Sent by William | 9:29 PM | 1-9-2008

Impeachment is not optional. It is the obligation of this Congress to stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution. Representatives Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) of the Judiciary Committee are calling for hearings to begin. If you care about our system of democracy, please go to www.wexlerwantshearings.com and sign the petition.

Sent by Terry Schultz | 11:20 PM | 1-9-2008

I commend McGovern for calling for Bush/Cheney impeachment. However, he undermines the importance of his position when he says "it is too late". CITIZENS FOR IMPEACHMENT in Lewes, Delaware will continue to call publicly for Bush/Cheney impeachment until the day they leave office. We believe this administration must be held accountable for lies misleading the country into war among many other impeachable offenses. I call on McGovern to use his considerable influence to press for impeachment regardless of time constraints, lest future presidents think they,too, are above the law.

Sent by Rev. Dorothy P. Greet | 11:50 PM | 1-9-2008

Bush and Cheney's impeachable offenses are many. If this country is ever to suggest to any other that 'rule of law' or democracy is important we must stand up and be counted as such. Our very democracy is at stake, our ability to stand among nations as responsible human beings. A backbone means you stand up for justice and truth, not that you ignore the violations of law because it's just too hard or uncomfortable to address the wrongs committed.

Sent by Paul Brady | 12:28 AM | 1-10-2008

I was unable to tender a comment (either by phone or e-mail) during today's "Talk of the Nation" interview with George McGovern.
As the supporting actors in the busChENEY catstrophe were being tallied -- the Congress and the American electorate -- and dealt perfuntory blame, I was waiting for the "other shoe to drop."
Unfortunately, the interview came to an end before either another caller or an e-mailer was able to pull the covers off of the abysmal performance of the US mainstream media in abandoning the principles of getting at the truth and reporting it. In the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, the media --en bloc -- effectively became embedded and auxillary to the administration's manifold shenanigans, high crimes and misdemeanors. It has seemed that the most to expect were variations on Judith Miller and Dan Rather's fevered notion regarding the reporter's duty to come to attention and salute the "commander in chief".
That's one soldier. Where were the reporters?
Any who seemed to have attempted to get the story out were, for example, fired on while inside their hotel rooms on the scene.
I had hoped that this failure of the American press, facilitating the US society's passivity to this adminstration's wreckless and illegal maneuvers might also have been made mention of in today's interview.

Sent by Daniel Lichtenwald | 2:39 AM | 1-10-2008

Yes!! Where do I sign?

Sent by Aaron in Japan | 3:22 AM | 1-10-2008

Where is the coverage of Dennis Kucinich's introduction of Cheney months ago? And he's running for president, for heaven's sake! So what's up with that? Dropped the ball again, NPR? Another example of too little too late from the MSM.

Sent by Jim Tucker | 8:44 AM | 1-10-2008

Please move on with impeachment. I truly believe that this is of the utmost importance in terms of the future of our country and its relationship with the rest of the world. I am so disappointed that this hasn't happened yet.

Sent by Holly Cohn | 10:45 AM | 1-10-2008

Let's see... Congress voted to go to war. Now they (democrats) want to get out for political reasons. So, they tell us they were duped into going to war. Seems to me they are apparently easily 'mislead'. What does that say about their intelligence?

Sent by Mark Lynch | 11:53 AM | 1-10-2008

What a poster child for the obsolete machine politics of the 60's. Loser then, loser now.

(Boo, hoo, the 2000 election didn't go the way we wanted.) Too Bad! Grow up! Get over it! Learn to live with disappointment! If G.W. Bush misled you, shame on you for believing him.

The president did not lie to Congress! He was asking for their consent!
And they gave it, based on the (poor) information they had at the time.

That is NOT a High Crime, Misdemeanor nor Treason. (The only offenses for which a sitting official can be impeached.)

Stop crying about losing the 2004 election!!!
Impeachment, is a very serious proceeding. Bill Clinton was accused of "lying under oath" (a crime) about whether he "did or did not have sexual relations with Ms Flowers".

Sent by Harold | 1:42 PM | 1-10-2008

Impeachment would provide the opportunity to question Bush under oath so that we can get to the bottom of numerous discrepancies. We also need other members of his administration to submit to questioning under oath. The country and the Congress will disgrace themselves if they neglect to do their utmost to get to the truth.

Sent by Brent Froberg | 3:32 PM | 1-10-2008

Right on George!!

Sent by wendy | 7:09 PM | 1-10-2008

The most damaging consequences of the outrageous disregard for national and international laws this couple of (unfortunately) elected officials have caused, is the division created in the country... to a point that those who voted for them, will always be on denial holding to any excuse that validates their poor judgement or faithful belief, whatever they used to re-elect them...
It's time to unify and realize that this has been a sad period in the US, and that we need to move forward and a sign of impeachment action, even if it is only on paper, will give back some morality to the honor and hope this country represent to us and the world...

Sent by J Espinoza | 1:31 AM | 1-11-2008

Time to impeach. The stakes are too high not to. Think about it. Let the chips fall where they may. It is our duty. Now let's get this message to Ms. Pelosi. I've certainly tried.

Sent by steve valliere | 11:37 AM | 1-11-2008

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