An interesting intra-party debate has unfolded in Republican circles recently over whether or not to pursue impeachment against President Obama. At a distance, GOP officials appear to be divided into three separate groups.
The first is shouting, “Impeach!” without much regard for consequences or merit. The second is responding, “Sue him instead!” as an apparent attempt at placating Republican extremists. The third contingent agrees with the first group, and would love to impeach for reasons that no one seems able to explain, but fears political blowback and realizes the Senate wouldn’t remove the president from office. For this faction, the crusade just isn’t worth the effort.
But yesterday, one Texas congressman put a new spin on this third group’s message, saying Obama “definitely deserves” to be impeached – again, no one knows why – but House Republicans can’t pursue this because they don’t have time.
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) was somewhat more sympathetic to the idea but even he opposed initiating impeachment proceedings “right now,” arguing that the House is too busy to get to it.“The president deserves to be impeached. Plain and simple,” he said. “But … we have so much on our plate that it’s not practical.”
This isn’t a good argument. It is, however, an unintentionally hilarious argument.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but the Republican-led House really doesn’t do much. I suppose one might be able to argue House GOP lawmakers are exhausted after ignoring so many policy priorities, but as a rule, doing a whole lot of nothing isn’t evidence of keeping busy.
Perhaps it’s time to update one of the year’s more important charts.
As of this week, Congress has passed 126 bills, putting it on track to be easily the least productive Congress on record. The tally looks slightly worse when one acknowledges the fact that about a fifth of that total is made up of ceremonial bills related to things like renaming post offices, not actual, substantive matters.
Weber believes a sitting president “definitely deserves” to be impeached, but the House is just too darn busy? Doing what, exactly?
It’s actually the worst of all possible arguments on the subject. For one thing, if a president is acting outside the law and is abusing the constitutional system – Obama’s clearly not, but speaking hypothetically – then a Congress has a responsibility to impeach, whether it’s time consuming or not. For another, those who don’t do actual work generally shouldn’t complain about having too much on their plate.
That said, looking ahead, governing in the next Congress will probably be slightly worse, especially if Republicans takeover the Senate. Will Randy Weber want to make time for impeachment then?