This is the second in a series of diaries on impeachment
There was a time when House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers was a fierce warrior for impeachment. As a fourth-term congressman in 1972, Conyers was one of the first to introduce a House resolution calling for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, even before the Watergate burglary had occurred. In 1974, just after President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, Conyers wrote an essay entitled, Why Nixon Should Have Been Impeached, in which he laid out his case for an article of impeachment condemning Nixon’s illegal bombing and invasion of Cambodia, as well as the constitutional threat posed to America by the choice not to pursue impeachment.
But since taking over chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee in January 2007 – the same Judiciary Committee on which Conyers served in 1974 when its members drafted the three articles of impeachment against Nixon that were about to be voted on by the House when Nixon abruptly resigned – Conyers’ passion for impeachment has cooled considerably. Why, is anyone’s guess. One possibility might simply be Conyers’ age – he is now 78 years old, not the 42 he was when he introduced his first impeachment resolution. Another, more disturbing, possibility might be that Conyers has been pressured by the Democratic leadership in Congress to forgo talk of impeachment, for what reasons one can only imagine.
Regardless of the reason, Conyers for some time has not carried the torch he once bore. The impeachment flame burns dim in him, if it burns at all.
And yet – perhaps because I am a romantic at heart – I continue to hope. Conyers’ descent into complacency reminded me of one of my favorite poems, a poem that tells the story of a once-proud warrior who finally chafes at his now-banal existence, and resolves to undertake one last campaign, a campaign to achieve “some work of noble note” before the end. Perhaps Congressman Conyers will feel the same desire to leave a meaningful legacy: