Lapham likes impeachment

Lapham likes impeachment, not President Pelosi

By Amanda Witherell

Lewis Lapham came to California recently to speak about presidential impeachment and his new book, Pretensions to Empire — a compilation of essays from the last two years of his three-decade run as editor of Harper’s magazine. We caught up with the San Francisco native over coffee at the Top of the Mark and talked about the likelihood of Rep. Nancy Pelosi being promoted into the White House if President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney get removed, how to get the power back to the people, and his grandfather’s tenure as San Francisco’s mayor.

SFBG What if George W. Bush were impeached and Nancy Pelosi were in the White House?

LEWIS LAPHAM Well, that wouldn’t happen. I would not like to see Nancy Pelosi in the White House, if you’re asking me that question, because I don’t think her policies would be that much different from — I don’t think they’d be extreme as Bush — but I don’t think she has at heart the interests of the American people, if that’s what you mean. She’s a servant of the [ruling class] interests, as is [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein. I think Barbara Boxer’s got a little more strength, at least that’s the way it seems to me, reading the paper and seeing her on television. But Pelosi and Feinstein are in tremors.

SFBG San Francisco and Berkeley both have impeachment measures on the ballot this November. We’ll get a chance to vote on it. Do you think that’s the way we should go about impeachment — municipally?

LL I don’t see why not. I don’t see any other way to go about it. I think that the impetus for any revival for democratic government is going to come not from a national level but from a municipal and state level. That is the way we’re going to get better regulation of air pollution. That’s the way we’re going to get more money for schools. It’s conceivably the way we’re going to get some kind of decent health care. I think increasingly that is not going to happen on a national level. All they’re going to do at a national level is horrendous things like No Child Left Behind, which I hope would be overturned at the state level. I would be in favor of overturning as much of the national stupidity at the city and state level.

SFBG Do you think it’s the only way to get the will of the people back into the conversation?

LL Yes, and also taking power away from the federal government and giving it back to the cities and the states.

Originally published October 10, 2006 in the San Francisco Bay Guardian