All of a sudden, pollsters think enough of the impeachment question to start putting the question in the field. The latest
comes by way of Rasmussen Reports.
Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Americans now believe that President Bush should be impeached and removed from office. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 49% disagree while 12% are not sure.
Those figures reflect a slight increase in support for impeachment over the past year-and-a-half. In December 2005, 32% believed that President George W. Bush should be impeached and removed from office. Fifty-eight percent (58%) took the opposite view at that time.
A majority of Democrats (56%) now believe the President should be impeached.... Republicans, by an 80% to 16% margin, say that the President should not be impeached.... Among those not affiliated with either major party, 40% now favor impeachment while 45% are opposed.
This is the third poll I've seen on this in the last two months, and the results are similar enough to bolster their collective reliability. An American Research Group poll released this week showed that among all U.S. adults, 45% support the House initiating impeachment proceedings against Bush (the percentage was 54% in relation to Cheney impeachment). And an InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion poll taken in early May showed 39% of American favor impeachment.
First, for a "fringe" idea that "serious" people are supposed to reject out of hand, 40% of the electorate sounds like a fairly substantial number of people.
Second, more Americans support impeaching Bush now than supported impeaching Clinton when he was actually being impeached
And third, I think Matt Yglesias
is right about the larger political dialog: [I]nsofar as Bush appears determined to use his constitutionally granted authority to shield his subordinates from the consequences of breaking the law, I would say that removing him from the office which grants that authority is something that should be discussed."
Are there 67 votes in the Senate for removing Bush from office? Almost certainly not, a fact that seems unlikely to change anytime soon. For that matter, the prospect of a President Cheney is, shall we say, disconcerting.
But given the circumstances, there's no reason to dismiss the notion as some radical flight of fancy. Reasonable people, debating in good faith, can disagree about the utility, implications, and grounds for impeachment, but as Yglesias put it, the concept should probably "enter the mainstream conversation."