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Impeachment is not a toy

<p>Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, a U.S.</p>

Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, a U.S. Senate candidate this year, hosted a town-hall meeting this week, and heard from a constituent who wants to see President Obama impeached. The right-wing congressman seemed quite fond of the idea.

If you can't make out the audio, Akin considered the "tactical" question of what would happen to the articles of impeachment in the Senate, but added, "At a certain point you just say, 'Enough, I don't care enough about the Senate, duty calls us to just get up and just impeach this guy.'" The Missouri Republican added that the president is "a complete menace to our civilization."

And on what grounds, pray tell, would Akin try to impeach Obama? The Senate candidate pointed to "all of the czars" and the notion that the president "completely ignores the train wreck of the economy." He wasn't kidding.

This is obviously ridiculous rhetoric from an unhinged conservative, but I'm fascinated by how often Republicans use the "I" word in public, as if presidential impeachment is some sort of toy.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) talked last month about impeaching Obama for no apparent reason; Fox News' Neil Cavuto suggested in January that Obama might be open to impeachment over recess appointments; Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has raised the prospect of impeaching Obama over DOMA; and Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) talked up the idea of presidential impeachment because "it would tie things up" in Washington for a while, making governing impossible.

What's more, in 2010, both Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) also raised the specter of impeaching Obama.

I don't seriously expect congressional Republicans to pursue this, but the fact that so many GOP lawmakers feel comfortable speaking like this, out loud and in public, is a reminder of just how extreme some elements of the Republican Party have become.