07/16/2007 02:23 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

How Much Capital Will Cheney Have to Push War With Iran?

The Guardian reports today that "the balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favor of military action" before President Bush leaves office. Not surprisingly, the Guardian attributes this shift to aggressive lobbying by Vice-President Cheney.

"Cheney has limited capital left, but if he wanted to use all his capital on this one issue, he could still have an impact," said Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

So, the question of whether the United States attacks Iran before President Bush leaves office may boil down to this: how much capital will Dick Cheney have?

And this allows us to pose the question of Cheney's potential impeachment in a very practical way.

Critics of the idea of impeaching Cheney have a point. They argue that impeaching Cheney will require 218 votes in the House, and given the difficulty in rounding up 218 votes in the House for say, cutting off funding for continuing the Iraq war, or explicitly preventing an attack on Iran without Congressional authorization, where are those 218 votes going to come from?

But the progressive minority in the House can do things to undermine Cheney's capital that don't require 218 votes. For example, they could co-sponsor the Articles of Impeachment against Cheney. The third article charges that Cheney "has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States." Currently, there are 13 co-sponsors.

In contrast, 98 Representatives co-sponsored resolutions against war with Iran, there are 73 members of the Out of Iraq Caucus, and 70 House members of the Progressive Caucus.

Many of these Representatives would have no reason to fear any backlash from their constituents for supporting Cheney's impeachment. Recent polls suggest a majority of Americans favor Cheney's impeachment, and it's a reasonable expectation that the support for Cheney's impeachment is even higher in the strongly Democratic districts that most of these Members represent.

If by the end of the summer, the Articles of Impeachment against Cheney had 50 co-sponsors, the capital of Cheney would be significantly decreased. And the danger of war with Iran would be correspondingly diminished.
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