Stuck Inside the Beltway with Impeachment Blues Again

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.”—Sarah Palin, July 8, 2014


“Talk about impeachment is coming from the president’s own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. . . . Why? Because they’re trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year’s election.”—John Boehner, July 29, 2014

In politics, they say, a week is like a year. By this reckoning, John Boehner’s claim that the “impeach Obama” talk originated with Democrats makes a certain amount of sense. It has, after all, been two and a half years since a former GOP nominee for vice president demanded, not only that President Obama be impeached, but that voters punish members of Congress who think otherwise.

Here in Kansas, where time flows differently, it has only been two and a half weeks since Palin made her remarks. And they weren’t the first. The necessity of impeaching Obama has been an absolute article of faith for tea-party conservatives since about a week before he took office.

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have both called for Obama’s impeachment in the past year, even though both of them now say (here and here) that impeachment is a boogie man that Democrats are using to whip their base into a frenzy.

Conservative Republican politicians have been mentioning the “I” word in Congress and in TV interviews for years. Remember back in 2010 when Darrell Issa R-Calif.) said that Obama should be impeached for offering a job to the guy running against Arlen Spector in Pennsylvania? Or back in 2013 when Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhoffe claimed that Obama could be impeached over Benghazi?

Yeah, they said that. And all of these too.

There is a lot of anger out there for a politician to stoke. And politicians of all stripes are professional anger-stokers.
Michael Austin
Want a couple million more? Just Google “Obama Impeachment” and you can spend the next year or two reading all about it. According to one recent poll, one-third of Americans want Obama impeached. There is a lot of anger out there for a politician to stoke. And politicians of all stripes are professional anger-stokers.

But John Boehner can count. He knows (among other things) that two-thirds of Americans do not want Obama impeached, that two-thirds is greater than one-third, and that the one-third of Americans who favor impeachment aren’t going to vote Democratic anyway.

He also knows that there is no way that 67 Senators are going to vote for removal of the president and that the last guy they tried to impeach ended up becoming the most popular American politician of our generation.

As a politician who wants to win elections, Boehner knows that he cannot allow his caucus to go forward with plans to impeach a president who hasn’t even suffered through a humiliating sex scandal. He knows that all of the talk of impeachment plays right into the Democrat’s favorite narrative about Republicans: that they are all wild-eyed, Obama-crazed extremists who want to obstruct the political process and hurt Obama at any cost.

This is indeed a very good narrative for Democratic fundraising. And, while I do not believe for a minute that Democrats started it, I have no doubt that they are doing everything they can to help it along. It is very much in their interest to do so.

However, there is a difference between starting a false story about what your opponent is doing and declining to get in the way of an opponent making a mistake. The fact that Democrats benefit from the impeachment talk is not evidence that they started it.

Ultimately, I don’t think that Boehner’s story about Democrats starting impeachment talk is going to stick. Too many Republicans have been talking about impeachment for too long, and pretty much everybody can Google.

If I do not want people to mistake me for a duck, I should try very hard not to quack, wear wings, or waddle. The same logic goes for “person or party who wants to impeach the President.”