The last time we discussed the right’s dream of impeaching President Obama, a conservative reader on Twitter asked, “Why does the left keep bringing this silliness up?”
The question was based on a half-right premise. The notion of impeaching the president is certainly silly, but it’s not the left that keeps bringing the subject up.
The South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution this weekend calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama.Obama has “violated his oath of office in numerous ways,” the resolution states, citing his controversial decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and recent carbon emissions regulations, according to a report by the Argus Leader.“I’ve got a thick book on impeachable offenses of the president,” said Allan Unruh, the tea party activist and chiropractor from Sioux Falls who sponsored the resolution.
Delegates to the South Dakota Republican Party convention voted 191 to 176, so at least it was close.
To be sure, the “thick book” on Obama’s impeachable offenses appears to have some blank pages. Freeing an American prisoner of war through prisoner swaps, for example, is a positive development, not a high crime, which other presidential administrations have done under similar circumstances. For that matter, using the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon pollution is a policy already approved by the Supreme Court, making it pretty much the opposite of an impeachable offense.
But we’ve clearly reached the point at which substance and reason no longer matter. That rascally president has driven his critics stark raving mad, to the point that impeachment seems like a real possibility, not because of anything Obama has done, but because many Republicans seem to think it’ll make them feel better. Indeed, one GOP congressman said just last week that if presidential impeachment reached the House floor, it’d “probably” pass.
Remember, no one even knows what the article (or articles) or impeachment might say. But it doesn’t matter – the drive about the uncontrollable id of a radicalized political party, not a legitimate governmental exercise based on evidence.
I counted last week about a half-dozen GOP lawmakers who’ve recently endorsed the idea – including three senators, who are supposed to be slightly less unhinged – but Jamie Fuller yesterday pulled together an even more comprehensive list. It’s not short.
With this in mind, Jonathan Capehart made a compelling argument last week that if Republicans take control of the Senate after this year’s midterm – a distinct possibility – impeachment will actually look quite likely.
I don’t make this prediction lightly. The tea party-infused GOP has done things many once believed impossible. I’m thinking specifically about the two instances it brought the nation and the world to the brink of economic ruin because of its resistance to raising the debt ceiling. If Republicans are willing to ignore their leadership and jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States, there really is nothing they aren’t willing to do. And a Republican takeover of the Senate would only embolden them.I’ve said this before and I’ll keep repeating it until the message sinks in for Democrats inclined to sit out the midterms: Obama is not on the ballot in November, but Obama is on the ballot in November. Democrats have it in their power to keep the Senate and save the Obama presidency from the all-but-certain asterisk of impeachment.
I can appreciate why this may seem foolish. Ordinarily, the “I” word only comes up in relation to actual presidential wrongdoing. In 1974 the question was, “Will Nixon get impeached for running a criminal enterprise out of the Oval Office?” In 1986 the question was, “Will Reagan get impeached for selling arms to a sworn enemy to finance an illegal war in Central America?” In 1998 the question was, “Will Clinton get impeached for lying about sex?”
But in 2014 the question seems to be, “Will Obama get impeached because he’s driven Republicans off the deep end?”
Looking ahead, I still think the obvious course is to simply ask the congressional Republican leadership if they consider this on the table.
In advance of the 2006 midterms – the midterm cycle in George W. Bush’s second term – Republicans routinely argued that if Democrats won back the congressional majority, they’d launch an impeachment crusade, perhaps because the GOP president launched a catastrophic war under false pretenses. Naturally, this led reporters to press Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, all of whom effectively ruled out the possibility.
Is it really that outrageous to at least pose the question to GOP leaders in 2014? If Pelosi & Co. were asked eight years ago, why not raise the topic with Boehner, Cantor, and others? If it’s a topic being casually thrown around by Fox News, National Review, a variety of federal lawmakers, and at least one state GOP convention, why not at least get Republican officials on the record?