Listening to Barbara Jordan #6: “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”

The rest of the hearing remarks are all here. It’s a longer clip than the others but honestly, there is not a good place to cut it.

This is Barbara Jordan on the killing floor.

This was a woman who understands history, who illustrates time and again that we are, with every action, with every syllable, cutting the past away from the present.

She never mentions Nixon by name. There is the Constitution. There is the office of the Presidency. But Richard Nixon the president has already ceased to exist. By the time she finishes speaking, he is history.

jordan mosaic

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Listening to Barbara Jordan #5: “Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest”


from Say it Plain:

It was a speech she did not initially want to make. In her autobiography, Jordan said she thought the committee should stick to fact-finding instead of speechmaking. “The reaction from the other committee members was: ‘You must be out of your head.’ It seemed they all wanted that fifteen minutes on television,” Jordan wrote.


In methodical and determined tones, she unfolded the constitutional standards that President Nixon had appeared to have violated. Two days later, on July 27, 1974, Jordan voted to impeach the president (Nixon would resign before the Senate commenced a trial). Telegrams and letters poured into Jordan’s office in the days following her speech. A man put up billboards all over Houston thanking Jordan for explaining the Constitution.

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Listening to Barbara Jordan #4: “We know the nature of impeachment. We’ve been talking about it a while now.”


The remaining posts in this series will focus on the Watergate hearings. From the transcript of KUT’s Remembering Barbara Jordan:

After six years at the height of Texas politics, Barbara Jordan arrived in Washington. It was her first term as a U.S. Congress woman, and she was once again compiling a list of firsts.

JACQUI GALES WEBB (CONTINUED) But her tenure in Washington would be marked by what was a defining moment in the country’s history. Within what seemed like moments of her arrival, she was drawn into the national crisis known as Watergate. Wayne Bell begins this next chapter, with Barbara Jordan’s own recollections.

BARBARA JORDAN I went to Congress in January of, of 1973. Now, there were rumblings about impeaching the president, but no serious rumblings. I had always had the highest regard and respect possible for the presidency. And I could not imagine that I would be engaged in a process which would, could lead to the end of the presidency.

WAYNE BELL That’s Barbara Jordan from an interview she recorded with Washington’s WETA in 1984. The rumbling she’s referring to was of course the Watergate scandal, which landed in her lap because she was a member of the House Judiciary Committee. That committee, 21 Democrats and 17 Republicans, was the nation’s point team in determining whether or not to impeach the president. Barbara Jordan, a freshman, brand-new to Washington, would end up playing a crucial role.

MALE THREE Good evening from the U.S. Capital in Washington, where today the House Of Representatives began its formal inquiry into the impeachment of President Nixon.

JOHN DOAR My name is John Doar. I was special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee. In some indication that President Nixon believes that, that that committee can never work, said it would disintegrate into partisan wrangling. And he was counting on that, I believe. And it didn’t come out that way.

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Edwards Bloggers Brouhaha on Blog Talk Radio

McEwen and Marcotte discuss their experiences and first hand impressions of Bloggergate. It’s a lively and informative discussion, and the good thing is that it deals a lot with the underlying topic of political action in the blogosphere vs. the “corporate” media environment. The bad thing is that it’s overly dominated by hosts James and Nate, who should have STFU and let their two very articulate guests speak more.

Still, worth a listen.

Listening to Barbara Jordan #2: “In this kind of environment, it is understandable that change would become the watchword of this time.”

Audio excerpt from the 1992 Democratic National Convention keynote address.

[splashcast BCGA1450AB]

Part 1, from the 1976 convention, is here

Depending on your browser, the audio may loop after it plays through once. You can page through the photos (1/9) with the top right player menu.

Listening to Barbara Jordan #1: “There is no president of the United States that can veto that decision.”


February 21 is the seventy-first anniversary of Barbara Jordan’s birth and I’ve decided to “count down” to that anniversary with series of posts to celebrate. She was a hero, a Democrat, and a force of nature whose moral authority and eloquent voice inspired so many in this country through some of our darkest days as a nation.

Naturally, since I’m a Democrat, I don’t really have a plan …..

It’s just that during the past week, since the State of the Union address, I started looking for transcripts, audio and video of Jordan for inspiration because of the dark days we find ourselves in right now. Also because during the past few weeks, after a long time in the gloom, we’ve heard some very strong voices urging change, urging individuals to stop and think, ask themselves if they can’t do better, to remember that America is better than this.

Reading, watching and listening to Ivins, Kennedy, Edwards, Hagel, Leahy, and Webb has inspired me and given me hope. It took me back, to when I was a kid, watching the Watergate hearings with my parents, and seeing Barbara Jordan deliver the opening statements. Really seeing her for the first time.

I already knew who she was because she was from Texas, was in the news, but that was the first time I really saw, really listened, and like everyone else who saw and listened that day, just sat there with my mouth open in awe of the woman who would one day speak at my college graduation. Your mind didn’t wander when Barbara Jordan spoke. It couldn’t. You had to listen and you sat up straight and just opened yourself up because you didn’t have any choice.

On that July 25, 1974, Barbara Jordan knew the eyes of history were on her, and on the Congress of which she was a member. “We are trying to be big,” she intoned, “because the task we have before us is a big one.”

She needn’t have worried. Even via the television, she was huge- her clarity and strength commanded that room full of so-called powerful men, and anyone else listening. She was innately majestic and she spoke truth to power.

Bill Moyers said of it, “”Just when we despaired of finding a hero, she showed up, to give the sign of democracy…. This is no small thing. This, my friends, this is grace. And for it we are thankful.”

And that’s the sense I’ve felt stirring these last few weeks, thankful even for the chance that we as a country might be able to turn things around, maybe even to even trust some of the people we’d elected to power to do the right thing and rise to the occasion, to “give the sign of democracy.” We can hope anyway, and this is no small thing…

Moyers (no oratorical slouch himself) would begin his famous eulogy for Jordan with this:

When Max Sherman called me to tell me that Barbara was dying and wanted me to speak at this service, I had been reading a story in that morning’s New York Times about the discovery of forty billion new galaxies deep in the inner sanctum of the universe. Forty billion new galaxies to go with the ten billion we already knew about. As I put the phone down, I thought: it will take an infinite cosmic vista to accommodate a soul this great. The universe has been getting ready for her.

Now, at last, she has an amplifying system equal to that voice. As we gather in her memory, I can imagine the cadences of her eloquence echoing at the speed of light past orbiting planets and pulsars, past black holes and white dwarfs and hundreds of millions of sun-like stars, until the whole cosmic spectrum stretching out to the far fringes of space towards the very origins of time resonates to her presence.

I’m starting off this series with an audio clip, not from the impeachment proceedings, since I just linked to that here, but with an brief excerpt from her first (she gave two) Democratic Convention keynote address, in 1976.

I find it particulary relevant for right now, for us at this moment, 31 years later:

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