George McGovern Rewrites History:

In today's Washington Post, George McGovern joins the ranks of those calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

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.

After the 1972 presidential election, I stood clear of calls to impeach President Richard M. Nixon for his misconduct during the campaign. I thought that my joining the impeachment effort would be seen as an expression of personal vengeance toward the president who had defeated me.

Today I have made a different choice.

Setting aside the arguments for and against impeaching President Bush, McGovern is seriously misrepresenting his position on the Nixon impeachment proceedings. According to these news stories, for example, McGovern called for impeaching President Nixon in a speech in Richmond, VA in October 1974 1973 in order "to make America safe for Democracy." A Westlaw search also identifies abstracts to New York Times stories suggesting McGovern urged Nixon's impeachment on other occasions as well. For instance, the abstract to a NYT story from January 21, 1974 reports that McGovern believed there were "ample grounds" for impeaching President Nixon and that he was urging the Democratic Party to take this position.

I suppose McGovern could defend his column by arguing that he did not support Nixon's impeachment in the immediate aftermath of the 1972 Presidential election, and only supported impeachment later on. Yet if this were the case, he should have qualified his claim, perhaps by writing "Immediately after the 1972 presidential election." As written, his article is misleading, if not worse.

It is also worth noting that McGovern is not a new convert to the pro-impeachment position. In this article from last March McGovern is quoted saying that "Bush is much more impeachable than Richard Nixon was. That's been clear for some time."

If George McGovern wants to make the case for impeaching the President, so be it. But he should make his case without misrepresenting the historical record.

[NOTE: Several readers of The Corner contributed information used in this post.]

[NOTE: I've corrected the year of the McGovern speech noted above.]