Remember when Nancy Pelosi said, even though the Democratic Party was set to have a majority in both houses of Congress, that "impeachment is off the table"? As Lewis Lapham said at the time,
Democracy is born in dirt, nourished by the digging up and turning over of as much of it as can be brought within reach of a television camera or a subpoena. We can't "lay out a new agenda for America" unless we know which America we're talking about, the one that embodies the freedoms of a sovereign people or the one made to fit the requirements of a totalitarian state....
Like it or not, and no matter how unpleasant or impolitic the proceedings, the spirit of the law doesn't allow the luxury of fastidious silence or discreet abstention....
The Constitution doesn't serve at the pleasure of Representative Pelosi any more than it answers to the whim of President Bush, and by taking "off the table" the mess of an impeachment proceeding, the lady from California joins the president in his distaste for such an unclean thing as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Rightly understood, democracy is an uproar, the argument meant to be blunt, vigilant, and fierce, not, as the purveyors of our respectable opinion would have it, a matter of liveried civil servants passing one another polite synonyms on silver trays.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are unilaterally disarming against the GOP, which has no qualms about using nasty tactics. The Obama campaign told Dennis Kucinich to remove this line from his speech:
They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20.
Related: Glenn Greenwald on what's missing from this convention:
First, there is almost no mention of, let alone focus on, the sheer radicalism and extremism of the last eight years. During that time, our Government has systematically tortured people using sadistic techniques ordered by the White House; illegally and secretly spied on its own citizens; broken more laws than can be counted based on the twisted theory that the President has that power; asserted the authority to arrest and detain even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and hold them for years without charges; abolished habeas corpus; created secret prisons in Eastern Europe and a black hole of lawlessness in Guantanamo; and explicitly abandoned and destroyed virtually every political value the U.S. has long claimed to embrace.
Other than a fleeting reference to such matters by John Kerry in a (surprisingly effective) speech which most networks did not broadcast, one would not know, listening to the Democratic Convention, that any of those things have happened. Even our unprovoked and indescribably destructive attack on Iraq, based on purely false pretenses, has received little attention. Those things simply don't exist, even as part of the itemized laundry list of Democratic grievances about the Bush administration. The overriding impression one has is that the only things really wrong during the last eight years in this country are that gas prices are high and not everyone has health insurance. Those are obviously very significant problems, but they are garden-variety political issues which don't begin to capture the extremism that has predominated in this country under GOP rule, and don't remotely approach conveying the crises on numerous fronts the country faces.