For a while, a variety of voices on the right raised the specter of impeaching President Obama over all sorts of things – immigration policy, czars, recess appointments, DOMA, Benghazi, legislative gridlock, Syria, and job offers, among other things. But in time, the talk faded away, and the right’s attention turned elsewhere.
It was, alas, a brief reprieve.
Just over the last few weeks, one Republican congressman talked about possibly impeaching the president over executive orders that don’t exist, another Republican congressman raised impeachment over gun control, and a third Republican congressman wants to make budget deficits an impeachable offense.
And then there’s Marc Thiessen, one of two George W. Bush speechwriters hired to write Washington Post columns, who hopes to revive interest in leaks surrounding the Stuxnet cyberattack against the Iranian nuclear program. According to Thiessen, “This is big.”
If the president authorized the disclosure of national security secrets that exposed a covert action and undermined a U.S. ally in an effort to gain a political advantage in his reelection campaign, that would be a scandal of gigantic proportions.
Thiessen seems quite excited, using phrases like “impeachable offense” and “the president … on trial.”
You may be thinking, “Wasn’t this a two-day story back in June that Republicans pretended to find outrageous?” And if so, you’re correct. But apparently, old habits die hard, and the drive on the part of some Republicans to inject the “I” word into the public conversation continues unabated.
I’m reminded of this Paul Waldman piece from last year on the GOP’s “scandal envy.”
Republicans are indescribably frustrated by the fact that Barack Obama, whom they regard as both illegitimate and corrupt, went through an entire term without a major scandal. They tried with “Fast and Furious,” but that turned out to be small potatoes. They tried with Solyndra, but that didn’t produce the criminality they hoped for either. Obama even managed to dole out three-quarters of a trillion dollars in stimulus money without any graft or double-dealing to be found.
Nixon had Watergate, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton had Lewinsky, and Barack Obama has gotten off scott-free. This is making them absolutely livid, and they’re going to keep trying to gin up a scandal, even if there’s no there there.
If that means recycling old controversies when newer ones fail, so be it.
In the meantime, stories that actually might be the subject of legitimate inquiry – legally dubious drone strikes, for example – go ignored on the right, largely because Republicans approve of the controversial policy.