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Why Ted Cruz's talk about impeaching President Biden matters

Ted Cruz said a Republican-led House might consider impeaching President Joe Biden on "multiple grounds." Don't be surprised if Democrats put this to use.

The first Republican U.S. senator to broach the subject of impeaching President Joe Biden was Iowa's Joni Ernst, who raised the prospect two years ago — long before the Delaware Democrat had secured his party's nomination. The GOP senator said at the time that the impeachment door "has been opened" and pointed to conspiracy theories about Burisma and Ukraine.

Such chatter was far too ridiculous to be sustained, and even Ernst stopped talking about the idea. But as the conservative Washington Times reported, a second Republican senator apparently wants to renew the conversation.

Sen. Ted Cruz said that a Republican-led House after the 2022 elections likely will consider impeaching President Biden on "multiple grounds." In the latest episode of his podcast "Verdict with Ted Cruz," the Texas Republican said he was extremely confident that his party will win congressional majorities and that this would open the door for retaliation against the Democrats for impeaching then-President Donald Trump.

The Texas Republican said he preferred a political landscape in which impeachment proceedings were rare, but he blamed Democrats for lowering standards.

"The Democrats weaponized impeachment," Cruz claimed. "They used it for partisan purposes to go after Trump because they disagreed with him. One of the real disadvantages of doing that is the more you weaponize it and turn it into a partisan cudgel, you know what's good for the goose is good for the gander."

The GOP senator added that he believes there are "potentially multiple grounds to consider" impeaching Biden. Cruz specifically pointed to disagreements of immigration policy, but he added, "[T]here may be others."

At this point, we could talk at length about the fact that both impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump were fully justified, and both received at least some bipartisan backing. The efforts had nothing to do with Democrats "disagreeing" with the then-president.

We could also talk about the degree to which disagreements over immigration policies are not legitimate grounds for impeachment articles, as the senator surely knows.

We could even take a minute to note that Biden hasn't committed any impeachable offenses, and if congressional Republicans were to pursue such a scheme, it would be pointless.

But for now, let's put all of that aside, and instead consider why Cruz's misguided rhetoric might actually matter.

In all likelihood, the Texan doesn't genuinely believe that Biden will be impeached in the event of a congressional Republican majority. Cruz tends to peddle nonsense like this to impress his party's far-right base and annoy his political opponents.

But don't discount the possibility of unintended consequences.

Ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, more than a few Republicans talked up the idea of impeaching then-President Barack Obama for reasons they struggled to articulate. The chatter grew loud enough that Democrats started fundraising on the issue — which proved to be a good idea when the Democratic base had a strong response.

It reached the point that GOP leaders had to start downplaying the talk — not because they felt the need to defend Obama, but because they feared the effects of a Democratic backlash. It was a straightforward calculus: The more voters on the left believed Republicans might actually try to impeach the Democratic president, the more motivated Democratic voters would be to open their wallets and show up on Election Day.

With this in mind, don't be too surprised if Cruz's rhetoric becomes a popular new talking point — not echoed by his Republican allies, but by his Democratic opponents.