Borrowing a page from Bill Maher, I’d like to establish a new rule: those who propose presidential impeachment should come up with some sort of coherent rationale for doing so. And before conservatives ask, no, “I don’t like Obama” is not an actual reason.
Last week, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) not only expressed an interest in impeaching President Obama, he said proponents “could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it.” On what grounds? Farenthold didn’t get around to explaining why the president would be impeached, though in context, it apparently had something to do with what the Texas Republican described as “the whole birth certificate issue.”
And then last night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said something similar.
In a question and answer session following a speech he gave at a Montgomery County GOP dinner last night, an audience member asked Cruz, “Why don’t we impeach him [Obama]?”
“It’s a good question,” Cruz responded, “and I’ll tell you the simplest answer: To successfully impeach a president you need the votes in the U.S. Senate.”
Actually, it’s not a good question, and to successfully impeach a president you need the votes in the U.S. House. But other than that, the right-wing senator clearly knows what he’s talking about.
National Review posted an audio clip of the Cruz event, and listeners will notice that neither the senator nor his audience actually bothered mentioning a rationale for impeachment; they just seemed to think it was a good idea. Cruz said something about his belief that Obama has acted outside the law, but he offered no details or specifics.
I remember the good old days – back in 2011 – when unhinged conservative Republicans in Congress used to come up with pretenses of high crimes when talking up presidential impeachment. Lately, they don’t even bother. Obama is the president; he’s a Democrat; the right doesn’t like him; ergo impeachment is a credible option. QED.
For the record, as we discussed last week ,a variety of voices on the right raised the specter of impeaching President Obama over all sorts of things in recent years – immigration policy, czars, recess appointments, DOMA, Benghazi, legislative gridlock, Syria, and job offers, among other things. In the spring, congressional Republicans went a little further, talking up the possibility of impeaching the president over executive orders that don’t exist, gun control, and even budget deficits.
Of course, none of these controversies point to actual presidential wrongdoing, and certainly don’t constitute “high crimes.”
Which is probably why folks like Cruz and Farenthold are making the transition – from talking about impeachment with cause to talking about impeachment for the heck of it.