Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., speaks to people demonstrating against the health care bill on the U.S. Capitol steps a day before Congress is set to vote on health care reform on Saturday, March 20, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

Georgia’s Kingston dabbles in impeachment politics

We’ve seen some House Republicans talk up the idea of impeaching President Obama, and we’ve seen some GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate talk up the same scheme, but Georgia’s Jack Kingston appears to be the first Republican to fall into both camps.

Kingston, an 11-term congressman currently running in a Senate primary runoff, was recently asked whether he’s on board with the impeachment drive. He refused to comment. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday on a recent radio interview in which the far-right lawmaker shared his general take on the matter with host Aaron McCready.
Kingston: Not a day goes by when people don’t talk to us about impeachment. I don’t know what rises to that level yet, but I know that there’s a mounting frustration that a lot of people are getting to and I think Congress is going to start looking at it very seriously.
McCready: Well, if this lawsuit, and I said this in the first half of the show. I’m concerned about this lawsuit because, and first of all, I agree that the president needs to be held accountable. But with this lawsuit, by the time there’s any resolution in it, he’ll be out of office, so is this maybe the first step to issue articles of impeachment?
Kingston: You know, it could go in that direction if there was a big discussion. I mean, I think it’s possible, it keeps getting worse and worse. It could go in that direction.
Note, the Republican congressman didn’t explicitly endorse impeachment. He said Congress “is going to start looking at it very seriously” – though no one seems able to explain what, exactly, President Obama has done to warrant this conversation – and the process could “go in that direction,” but he didn’t specifically advocate the idea.
Kingston also said “it keeps getting worse and worse,” though I have no idea what “it” refers to.
So, is the Republican congressman on board or not? His spokesperson still refuses to say. Perhaps he’s “impeachment curious”?
But because Kingston is a leading candidate in a competitive Senate race, that may not be the best place to be.
In his Republican runoff primary, Kingston is facing David Perdue, who came in first in the initial primary, and who does not support presidential impeachment. The winner will take on Michelle Nunn, who almost certainly has no interest in pursuing the right-wing dream.
And so that leaves Kingston, as Jay Bookman put it, “toying with impeachment fire.”
Alexander Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers, foresaw that impeachment could be abused through “the persecution of an intemperate or designing majority in the House of Representatives,” concluding that “it ought not to be forgotten that the demon of faction will, at certain seasons, extend his sceptre over all numerous bodies of men.”
Kingston is feeding the creation of “an intemperate or designing majority,” and he appears to know it. He also seems to be sending one message to the base, through an Atlanta-based Internet radio show with a limited if strongly conservative audience, while ducking the question of impeachment when confronted by media with a more general audience.
It may pay him short-term political benefits, but it is irresponsible and in the long term politically self-destructive.
I’d just add that the potential for electoral consequences is real. Nunn actually leads this race in some polls and Georgia Democrats will be looking for every possible opportunity to boost turnout.
If House Republicans were, for some reason, to impeach the president, it would go to the Senate for a trial – meaning Kingston would have a vote as to whether to throw Obama out of office. It’s exactly the sort of thing that might create an incentive for Democratic voters in Georgia to show up this fall.