What’s with all the talk of Impeachment lately?
Impeachment is in the air. I have heard it mentioned multiple times in the past week. Everyone is talking about it. So what’s up? Have the Republican’s finally grown a pair? Was this Boehner speaking of impeachment? Who on the Republican side is leading the charge?
Actually, it isn’t the Republicans – it’s the Democrats.
Not that they are really interested in impeaching President Obama. It’s more like they are really, really interested in making you think that the Republicans are interested in impeaching Obama. Not only interested, but chomping at the bit; on the very verge of publishing the articles of impeachment in the House at any moment in fact.
And they want you to act immediately, by sending cash to their campaign to save the President, immediately if not sooner, to stop this Republican effort before it can even get off the ground. What is triggering this effort?
Well, there is the lawsuit Republican House Speaker John Boehner is filing, over excessive abuse of power by “going around Congress” and violating the separation of powers by exercising executive authority that he does not possess; among other things, modifying and ignoring laws passed by congress. House Republicans voted on Wednesday to proceed with the lawsuit on a 225 to 201 vote, with five Republicans and all Democrats voting against. According to Democrats, this is at once both a “stunt” and a “prelude to impeachment.” According to Republicans, it is an attempt, short of impeachment, to reign in a “lawless” president.
At the same time, polling data is showing the President’s approval rating at a dismal 43%, well below the 53% average for U.S. presidents; even below the 48% average for elected presidents’ 22 quarter. There is some consolation for President Obama however; at 43% he is still above President GW Bush’s 39% at this point in his presidency; or President Nixon’s 26%.
Of course, not everyone thinks he is doing a bad job. Among religious groups, Muslims give him a 72% approval rating, the highest of any group. The lowest rating he gets is from Mormons, of whom only 18% think he is doing a good job. But that’s probably just sour grapes left over from their candidate, Mitt Romney, getting spanked by Obama in the last election. That and the fact that, as everyone knows, Utah is the reddest state in the country and Mormons are overwhelmingly Republican.
Blacks still back him at 78%, although this is down from 88% in June and 93% in April. Still, were Mr. Obama able to run for a third term, there is no doubt that those in the African American community who are upset with him today would still hold their nose and vote for him once again, much as many of us held our noses and voted for John McCain back in 2008.
On the specific topic of impeachment, a new CNN Poll reveals that one third of the country would like to impeach him, including Democrats. The total breakdown comes out 57% of Republicans, 35% of Independents, and 13% of Democrats support impeaching the president. This is quite a comedown for a president who won a Nobel Peace Prize less than a year into his first term, having done absolutely nothing to deserve it but simply be the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Then there is the fact that we are less than four months away from the midterm elections and the Democrats would very much like to hang onto the Senate so that they can keep up their strategy of blockading Republican efforts while blaming the deadlock in Congress on the Republican led House.
In order to do so, they need money to fight their campaigns, and a cause to energize their base and get them to the polls in November. What better cause for both than yet another Republican attempt to oust a “duly elected” Democratic president? And not just any old Democrat, but the first elected African-American president?
It worked for President Clinton, the last duly elected Democratic president and target of impeachment by the Republicans. In fact, the House, led by the Republicans, did impeach him on four counts; grand jury perjury, civil suit perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. He was not, however, removed from office, as the Senate failed to get the necessary 2/3 vote for removal.
Not only was he not removed from office, but his approval numbers spiked. The media painted a picture of the entire thing being politically motivated and in any event, “all about sex,” not anything actually affecting his ability to lead and govern the country. After all, “everyone lies about sex.” But for the grace of God, that could be you up there on the stand!
Actual conduct, which would not be condoned were you a high-ranking officer in the military or the CEO of a private corporation is perfectly OK, apparently if you are the President of the United States; or at least if you are Bill Clinton that is. Half of the women in the country were wishing they were Monica Lewinski, while half of the men were wishing they had the ability to attract women that the president had. What we as a nation learned from the episode is that perjury is OK if it is about sex, and that oral sex isn’t really sex, a lesson that has been internalized in our nation’s schools, where oral sex in grades as low as middle school is now as normal as a first kiss on a date.
What the Republicans learned is that leading impeachment proceedings against a popular Democratic president is a political non-starter, and in particular, that leading impeachment proceeding against the first elected African-American president is a quick way to commit political suicide. Republicans have a good shot at winning the midterm elections; impeaching the president would not only be a distraction, but would probably lead to torpedoing their chances in November as Democrats close ranks and Independents join them.
One of the reasons why police dislike having to intervene in domestic disputes is because, no matter how violently the husband and wife may be fighting, there is a good chance that they will both drop their dispute and join ranks against the officer when he tries to break it up. The same is true in politics; the various factions within the party will close ranks and rally round their man. And if a picture can be painted that he is being “picked on” or “unfairly attacked,” the rest of America will drop their disagreements and rally round as well.
American’s love an underdog, and hate seeing someone “unfairly attacked.”
So when you hear Democrats speak of impeachment, it isn’t that they want to impeach Mr. Obama (although that probably wouldn’t bother Joe Biden overly much); it’s that they want Republicans to fall into the trap of thinking that it is possible that they would assist with such an undertaking and commit to doing so, at which point they will of course back away. In fact, it isn’t even necessary for Republicans to even consider impeachment if they can succeed in getting the low information voters to believe that Republicans are considering it.
The fact that certain Republicans, like Sarah Palin, have called for it just gives them fuel for the fire. Never mind that Ms. Palin does not currently hold elective office, nor is she an official mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Never mind that Democrats have never, since she was named John McCain’s running mate in 2008, publicly taken anything she says seriously and have ridiculed her every time she has opened her mouth; this time she represents the “mood of the Republican Party.” “Sarah Palin says the president must be impeached so send us boatloads of money!”
And there are many Republicans who agree with her, no matter how suicidal it is; they are going to stand on principle and go down with the ship. And in truth, she makes some good points, chief among which is that if we continue to allow the President to flout the rule of law, then a precedent is set and we can expect future presidents to be lawless as well. Impeachment is necessary in order to send a message that such behavior is unacceptable, even though impeachment does not equate to removal from office, and removal from office is not a likely outcome.
Thus there are splits in the Republican ranks over this issue, with many fighting against the Republican “establishment” candidates in the primaries, whom they deem as “RINOs.” Fine, only when the dust settles and the primaries are over, and many if not most are won by “establishment” candidates, will they still vote Republican in November, or stay home in a huff, nursing their principles? That’s what happened in 2012 and look what that got us. A recent CNN poll may show that many Americans now wish they had voted for Romney – but the election is over; it’s too late. There are no “do overs.”
It’s a win-win for Democrats either way. They lose nothing by suggesting that the Republicans want to impeach the president. And if the Republicans were dumb enough to do it, they could probably succeed with the impeachment in the House where they hold a majority, but would certainly fail the removal vote in the Senate where the Democrats hold sway. They would stand on their principles and go down in flames in November, possibly leaving the Democrats not only with control of the Senate, but possibly control of the House as well.
If the Republicans feel that they absolutely must impeach the President, they would be best advised to wait until after the November elections to do so, when they might possibly take control of the Senate and be in a better position. Of course, they would still have that 2/3 majority needed in the Senate for removal. And the backlash would come back to haunt them in 2016.
At least, if they control the House and the Senate, they can perhaps limit the amount of damage Mr. Obama can cause in the next couple of years. Or perhaps, if his behavior becomes so egregious that popular support for his removal could be sustained, then maybe they could do so at a later date without it leading to putting another Progressive Democrat in the White House for the next eight years.
At this point, I would say that as much as I dislike the actions of this president, and as destructive as I believe them to be to the Republic, impeachment is not an option. It is physically infeasible and politically suicidal. Nevertheless, it makes a great talking point for Democrats to rally their voters and raise money; as a self-made “crisis” it’s a win-win for them.
Unless of course, it gets out of hand and the president’s policies become so unpalatable to Americans that even Democratic voters start actually supporting the idea, in which case all bets are off.