"The members of Congress don't really want to impeach Nixon, they just want him to vanish," a prominent political analyst said Tuesday. "The Congress doesn't want to have to deal with the issue," he added.
Grant M. Ujifusa '64 is an expert on the Congress. As co-author of "The Almanac of American Politics" he has spent years studying election returns, voting records, ideological trends, and congressional personalities.
Most congressmen are afraid to act on the impeachment issue, Ujifusa said, because they are not sure what their constituents want. He said the president's resignation would please many congressmen on both sides of the aisle.
Ujifusa said the report of the House Judiciary Committee, which is now investigating Nixon for impeachable offenses, will be crucial to the success of the drive to oust the president. If the report supports impeachment, he said, then many members of the House may be unwilling to take the risk of stopping the impeachment effort.
Passing the Buck
The House may then be willing to "pass the buck" to the Senate by voting for a bill of impeachment, Ujifusa said.
But Ujifusa said he did not think the chances for a conviction in the Senate were good. A coalition of conservative southern Democrats and western Republicans could probably muster enough votes to stave off the two-thirds majority needed to convict a president and remove him from office, he said.
"If I were the president and I was going to fight like hell, I would be planning my fight in the Senate where I could depend on conservative southern Democrats who have supported me on issues like defense spending and busing," the political analyst continued.
The election Monday of Rep. Richard L. VanderVeen (D.Mich.) may have a significant effect on the Congress and the impeachment effort, Ujifusa said.
VanderVeen defeated Republican State Senator Robert VanderLaan Monday for the seat from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. The seat was vacated when former Rep. Gerald R. Ford became Vice President.
The Grand Rapids area is very Republican and a Democratic victory there tells the Congress that people are mad, Ujifusa said. VanderVeen's victory may cause a lot of fence-straddling congressmen to take a more active role in the impeachment effort, he added.
Ujifusa predicts the Republicans will lose 25 to 40 seats in the House this year and five or six in the Senate. In addition to Watergate, he said, the energy crisis and inflation will be major issues in the campaign.