Dear John: Steve's Waiting
by Rick Green
January 18, 2008
Excuse me, Congressman Larson? I'd like you to set aside a little time for one of your constituents.
I know it's the election season and your party's angling to take charge of the White House and all. But there's a cranky guy here in Hartford who says you two must talk about impeachment.
Stephen Fournier — an intelligent, heartfelt and sometimes confrontational Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Green-Party-member — wants you to join some of your colleagues in the House of Representatives and go after President Bush because of the Iraq war.
Fournier claims that you've been dodging him, but I don't buy it. So I want to bring you two together. If you need neutral ground, I can get a room here at The Courant.
Personally, I agree with you, Congressman. It is time for all of us to move on from this relentless, exhausting George Bush fiasco. Unlike a lot of your colleagues, you can be proud that you did the right thing in opposing the war in Iraq. Impeachment is messy and divisive.
But I still think you owe Fournier a little chat. This guy poses a provocative, difficult question for those of us who opposed the Iraq adventure: If we are really against this war, isn't it time to examine what led us up to it?
Fournier says that the president lied to Congress and the country and that he should be impeached for this. He wants to talk about spying on American citizens, holding prisoners without due process and a long list of other complaints that Fournier says merit impeachment.
Steve tells me that since a group of like-minded folks began meeting last summer, he's asked to meet with you four times. Fournier said that your staff members never got back to him about these requests. In late November, members of Greater Hartford Impeach presented your office with a list of questions about your position on impeachment.
Now I know that a U.S. representative is busy. But I see where you had time to head out to Iowa to campaign for Chris Dodd. And I heard you on the radio during a leisurely, lengthy gabfest with Ray and Diane on WTIC-AM over Christmas.
You might recall his days on the Hartford Board of Education back in the 1990s, but Steve has mellowed since heart surgery a few years ago. He paints. He's got grandkids. But he's also mad as hell about this impeachment thing.
"My representative is right at the vortex of it all. He claims to be the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus," Fournier told me when I stopped by his house in Hartford's West End the other day. "It's simple accountability. If you commit a crime, you are going to pay for it."
"I had to do this. I am a citizen. I am a lawyer. I know what a crime is," said Fournier, who showed me your most recent letter to him. I don't disagree when you say that "to knowingly move forward with an impeachment that cannot succeed would only serve political purposes, vindicate the president and not serve our rule of law."
But when you say that the Bush administration's war policy was "one reached largely by deceit," that troubles me. Fournier says this mandates impeachment.
Because he's frustrated, Fournier has promised to run against you as a Green Party candidate. I think there's some wiggle room here, though, if you will sit down and talk with him.
Emily Barocas, your press secretary, told me that you are "happy to meet with any constituent on a substantive issue. But our office is not in the business of staging media events for someone's candidacy. We are not brushing him off."
Now I'm no Kissinger, but I think I can get Fournier to agree to some ground rules. Shall we pencil in a date during your next visit back home?
Of course, if you do find time for Steve, I should warn you. I've had a few arguments with this smart son-of-a-gun through the years.
He's very persuasive.
Rick Green's column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant