Life Credit - Barbara Raubvogel Jonas '55
For a respected journalist who just published a provocative and tightly reasoned call to arms, Dave Lindorff ’71 is having trouble getting press attention. He isn’t entirely surprised, given that his book is entitled The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office. Alleging a trail of malfeasance that includes the Iraq war, wiretapping, exposing a CIA agent and looking away as Hurricane Katrina crushed New Orleans, Lindorff makes a methodical case for the President’s high crimes and misdemeanors.
And he minces no words. “If a foreign power had slipped a Manchurian Candidate into our government to destroy America,” Lindorff says, “they couldn’t have picked a better wrecking crew than we have now.”
By late summer The Case for Impeachment (published by Thomas Dunne), his fourth book, had sold some 30,000 copies, with no reviews and only a handful of author interviews. But Lindorff is looking for more than sales; he hopes a power shift in Congress will permit the impeachment of the President. “This must happen if we’re going to preserve the Constitution.”
He doesn’t worry, he says, that his case for impeachment paves the way for a Cheney presidency. “Bush’s crimes are Cheney’s crimes. They are intertwined so totally that Cheney would be gone before Bush.” He adds, “The important thing is to get these issues aired in an unfiltered way in Congressional hearings.”
Lindorff’s sober cause contrasts with a good-natured, accessible temperament. He married Joyce Zankel ’72 on summer solstice 1970, “in a big maple tree at sunrise, with friends hanging from other limbs.” Zankel is an associate professor of keyboard studies at Temple University, where she teaches harpsichord; Lindorff balances writing political tracts for Salon, Counterpunch and The Nation with financial reporting for publications such as Business Week and Treasury and Risk Management.
Lindorff was an early male transfer student (from Wesleyan) at SLC, studying economics and Chinese-the latter, he says, because, during the Vietnam era, “I felt the need to understand some Asian language, so I could have another source of information.” His love of Chinese eventually took him back to Wesleyan, where he received his B.A.
He also discovered journalism. When he visited the fire department responsible for cleaning up a local railroad accident, a fireman showed him the bunker that would house city officials in the event of nuclear war. Desks were etched with titles such as mayor and tax collector.
“I thought, this is crazy. Do these people think that after a nuclear war there are going to be rich people and poor people, and tax assessors? Give me a break. It was totally nuts. I thought writing these types of stories is where it’s at; if I could do this I’d be a happy camper.”
Lindorff has develop a nose for intrigue, whether the quiet re-staffing of local draft boards (garnering him “most censored story” recognition from a California watchdog group) or the mysterious lump-a hearing device?-under the President’s jacket at a 2004 campaign debate (for which Bush defenders dismissed Lindorff as a “grassy knoll theorist”). His book Killing Time (2002) examined the trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black activist and writer accused of murdering a white police officer. His conclusion that Abu-Jamal deserved a new trial, but that there was no evidence he wasn’t the killer, frustrated prosecution and defense. Lindorff would write an update if he could.“I have a couple of incredible scoops that would mandate a new trial, but I can’t go public. My main source is a witness who refuses to allow himself to be put on the record. Without him, there’s no case.”
The case for impeachment, on the other hand, is one he finds clear and public. And, as he notes, “I’ve written a lot about political insanity. It’s the fun of it and the sense that I can have more impact than if I were an activist.”
Lindorff lists Thomas Paine-“a pioneer American journalist”-as one of his heroes. Paine’s work rallied colonists when the Revolutionary War effort sagged under disillusionment and defeat. “It was a case when words really made a difference-'These are the times that try men’s souls,’” says Lindorff. “One hopes that writing makes a difference now.”