House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has heard members of his party call
for President Obama's impeachment for reasons that are unclear, but yesterday, he made clear that he's not on board
When asked Wednesday by NBC News what he thought about the failed vice presidential nominee and half-term Alaska governor's demand that Congress remove Obama from office, the Ohio Republican said, "I disagree." Boehner is leading a charge to sue the Obama administration over what he sees as an abuse of executive power, but the speaker has said the lawsuit is not a step toward impeachment.
Got it. The House Speaker is prepared to file a lawsuit against the president for reasons Boehner can't explain, but presidential impeachment isn't part of the House Republican leadership's plan.
So, does that put the matter to rest? Not yet, it doesn't.
Former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) told Fox News, "You don't bring a lawsuit to a gunfight and there's no room for lawyers on our front lines." (One hopes that Palin was speaking metaphorically and that she doesn't actually see political disagreements with the White House as a "gunfight.") The comments came on the heels of a written piece in which the Alaska Republican said conservative voters should "vehemently oppose any politician" who "hesitate[s] in voting for articles of impeachment."
What we're left with is the latest wedge dividing the party. It's not yet a litmus test for the right, but four months before the 2014 midterms, it's clear Republicans have found yet another area for intra-party arguing.
ran an interesting piece
yesterday noting that much of the disagreement is about tactics, not ideology.
Staunch House conservatives are quashing calls for President Obama's impeachment. They argue an impeachment trial would be a doomed effort, with a Democratic Senate, that could hurt Republicans in the midterm elections.
For those who see the far-right impeachment crusade as silly, this may seem reassuring, but I'd like to pause to note a relevant detail: rank-and-file GOP lawmakers aren't balking at impeachment because it's dumb and unnecessary; they're balking because they doubt it'll advance their broader political goals.
The piece in The Hill is filled with quotes from House Republicans who are sympathetic to the idea of impeachment, but who worry about the electoral consequences and/or have no hopes that the Senate would remove Obama from office.
I emphasize this because, at least so far, I haven't seen any GOP lawmaker say something like, "I disagree with impeachment because the president hasn't committed an impeachable offense." For much of the Republican Party, that Obama is guilty of serious wrongdoing is apparently a foregone conclusion, for reasons only they understand.
Byron York, meanwhile, suggested
yesterday that the Speaker, arguably the top Republican official in the federal government, may ultimately have to simply declare whether impeachment is on or off the table. It's what Nancy Pelosi did in 2006
, and it's what Boehner may have to do in 2014.
That sounds about right, though it's worth remembering that the weak Speaker isn't necessarily the final word on the subject. As we talked
about the other day, the Speaker didn't want to create a debt-ceiling crisis, but the far-right insisted and Boehner went along. The Speaker didn't want a government shutdown, but the far-right insisted and Boehner went along. The Speaker didn't want to hold several dozen "repeal Obamacare" votes, but the far-right insisted and Boehner went along. The Speaker didn't want to kill immigration reform, but the far-right insisted and Boehner went along.
Now the Speaker is cool to impeachment. Whether others in his party care about Boehner's preferences remains to be seen.