Rightbloggers' Impeachment Smorgasbord Has Something for Everyone
Last week the South Dakota Republican Party called for the impeachment of Barack Obama. Our readers may view this as just another piece of exotic nonsense from a What's-The-Matter-With state.
But in the world of rightbloggers, this is serious stuff. While impeachment advocacy was once mainly the province of fringe characters (and Republican officeholders), some big names have climbed aboard the bandwagon, and others are cautiously but busily clearing a way for it. Now they just have to decide what to impeach him for. Which is hard because, as the poet says, they got more flavors than Fruitopia.
According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the resolution made at the SD-GOP state convention cited "the release of five Taliban combatants in a trade for captive U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, Obama's statement that people could keep insurance companies, and recent EPA regulations on power plants" among their reasons for recommending impeachment.
One of the beauties of Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution is that it includes "High crimes and Misdemeanors" (hereafter Hc&M) among the offenses for which federal officers may be impeached, and it's plural so there's no need for enthusiasts to limit themselves to one shot.
This wasn't the only impeachment news of the week, either: Per the UK Daily Mail, Congressman Lou Barletta (R.-PA) said on a radio show, "'for those that say impeach [Obama] for breaking the laws or bypassing the laws -- could that pass in the House? It probably could.'" When asked if the American People would approve of such an action, the Honorable Member said "I don't think so" -- which may be why America's Conservative News headlined the story, "Congressman Weasels On Obama Impeachment."
If you wonder how they can consider impeaching the President absent the outrage of the public, our answer would be, why would they need it? Rightbloggers (and a few politicians such as Darrell Issa and Trent Franks) have been talking about Obama's impeachment for years -- ImpeachObamaCampaign.com has been at it since October 2009 -- though in early innings even they seemed to recognize this was wishful thinking.
One of our vintage faves is Jay Tea's April 2011 post at Wizbang, in which he suggested five examples ("there are others") of Hc&M that had "the potential to trigger a Constitutional crisis, a direct conflict between the Executive and the Legislative branches. The ultimate expression of that conflict is the impeachment of the president." (Tea's examples, including the "The Un-War in Libya" and "The 'Czars' Signing Statement," have mostly fallen off the impeachment hit parade.)
Tea then asked "Does Barack Obama want to be impeached?" -- and it turned out his question was not rhetorical: Obama might court impeachment, he said, in order to attain the popularity boost Bill Clinton got from the Blowjob Follies of 1998-99. Also, maybe "he's bored and annoyed with the responsibilities and burdens and obligations that go with the office," suggested Tea. "Impeachment would allow him a way to leave office -- and in a historic fashion, as he would be the first president to be removed from office."
Obama instead opted to run for and win reelection in 2012, which only exacerbated the itch of impeachment in some rightblogger breasts. "But we know what eventually happened to the triumphant, pre-Watergate Nixon after November 1972," silver-lining'd Victor Davis Hanson from his National Review bunker; "what will be the second-term wages of Obama's winning ugly?" "Winning ugly," so far as we could make out from Hanson's column, meant that "Obama's campaign systematically reduced his rival, Wall Street financier Mitt Romney, to a conniving, felonious financial pirate who did dastardly things..." which no one has claimed as an impeachable offense, at least not for official purposes.
But they kept digging. In early 2013, when Obama signed some weak executive orders regarding guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Congressmen Steve Stockman (R.-TX), Trey Radel (R.-FL), and Louie Gohmert (R.-TX) all threatened impeachment. In fact, it seems every time Republicans promote a new Obama scandalette, some of the brethren will bring up the I-word.
Sometimes they come in bunches, as with Mr. Conservative's round-up, "10 Arguments For Impeaching Obama" ("1. Out-Of-Control Spending.") But often specific tsimmises get them thinking: this time we've got him for sure! The IRS controversy, for example, really had them waving their pennants, which is partly why the recent news of Lois Lerner's missing emails had them so furious: They're so sure these emails inculpate Obama they feel cheated out of their hypothetical smoking gun. "The very evidence that could lead to the impeachment of the president has disappeared into cyberspace," seethed Wayne Root at Glenn Beck's The Blaze.
Under the unequivocal headline "How are Obama and the IRS getting away with a blatant coverup?" the New York Post's Kyle Smith raged that "Obama cannot have known there was no corruption given the mountain of evidence that has yet to be produced and now appears to have been destroyed." That unproduced evidence was so real to Smith he could describe its size and shape -- as well as some of the mountain's contents: "For all [Obama] knows there's a Lois Lerner e-mail that says, 'I want you to go after these Tea Party bastards with everything you got. Use every trick you can to keep them on the sidelines for this election cycle. Nuke those fascists.'" Who says conservatives aren't creative?
This may seem like thin gruel to you, but the brethren have some celebrity backers. Foremost among these is former Who Even Remembers Sarah Palin, who during the 2013 debt ceiling crisis warned Obama not to unilaterally raise it under threat of impeachment, and last week declared "Team Obama" impeachable for "countless documented illegalities." (She did not need to name her Hc&M, either because Congress had "not enough guts... to file impeachment charges" or because she forgot what they were.)
Some of their high-level support is more intellectual-like.
Author Diana West, a strong sniffer-outer of Islamic treason (typical post: "Hillary's Jihad Money"), values scold, and, oh yeah, birther, last week cried, "For love of country, impeach Obama now." What's her Hc&M?
Mexican Central American kids have crossed into the U.S. and Obama won't throw them out -- or, in West's reading, Obama "opened the U.S. border to literally tens of thousands of 'children' - some described as 'sexually active' teens, some even suspected of ties to gangs."
Even if they aren't all sexually-active gangsters, West bade America beware the
Mexican Central American kids -- they "closely resemble an advancing column, a kind of foreign legion of child-mercenaries" and Obama is "shepherding them straight into an enfolding and enlarging federal safety net from which they may never have to emerge." It's war, said West, and it's "encouraged, if not led, by our own president while no one with all of the appropriate constitutional powers vested in him is doing anything to stop him." Hell, that ain't even Hc&M -- that's Treason! The Founders put that one right up front!
(West got important backing last week: Tea Party loser Joe Miller announced "a famous actor is calling for the impeachment of Obama" on immigration grounds -- Wayne Rogers, Trapper John from M*A*S*H, who on Fox News declared letting
Mexican Central American kids stay in the U.S. trips the magic Hc&M switch for Obama and Holder. Now all they need is Alan Alda and they're rolling!)
National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy, heretofore better known as a leading Bush Administration torture enthusiast, has become rightbloggers' shadow impeachment counsel, explaining "It's Not Crazy to Talk About Impeachment" (which must be a relief to many of them who have concerned friends and family) because "impeachment is not a legal matter; it is a political remedy," so you can basically get Obama for spitting on the sidewalk, or for (as McCarthy asserted in a recent column) rescuing the American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl at what McCarthy considered too high a price. The brethren love McCarthy's easy-and-fun approach, and often repurpose it into clickbait, e.g. "Former Top Prosecutor: Here's How to Impeach Obama [VIDEO]," "7 Articles of Impeachment to Take Obama Down," etc., while McCarthy works the mainstream with his impeachment message.
Perhaps hoping to muscle an Obama confederate into ratting out Mr. Big, some of the brethren are also going after Attorney General Eric Holder. At the Washington Times, Kelly Riddell rounded up some of the major players in this effort, including Congressman Paul A. Gosar (R.-AZ) and "Bruce Fein, the legal scholar who is known for drafting articles of impeachment against President Clinton," which experience should come in handy -- as should Fein's 2011 campaign to impeach Obama on grounds of Libya.
Fein went further, saying "in some sense, all impeachment is political" -- shoutout to Andy McC! -- and suggesting other Administration officials could qualify for impeachment, including National Intelligence Director James Clapper (NSA) and Obama (drones). Riddell further reported that "Mr. Fein argues that Congress should write into law what defines 'high crimes and misdemeanors' so individuals clearly know when they are committing an impeachable offense," which should be hilarious; maybe they'll specify copyright infringement, so they can get Obama for singing "Let's Stay Together."
But the strain of all these Hc&R with no impeachment has told on some rightbloggers who, tired of waiting for Congressional Republicans to step up, have become surly, or should we say surlier.
Alan Korwin of Ammoland reported the best explanation for the GOP's inaction "came from one voice in the back of a room where I gave a speech. In a room full of blank stares from folks who hadn't a clue, he called out, 'They're all in on it.' The room fell eerily silent." We'll bet! But the real reason, said Korwin, was that impeachment would put Joe Biden in charge. Because "the media bends over backwards to hide his constant insanity," President Biden would be a cinch for election in 2016 -- Hillary Clinton would have to settle for Veep -- "and that's the end of any Republican chance." If only the Democrats were so confident!
At The Hayride, Sarge thought impeachment was doomed even if the Republicans win the Senate this year -- because "Republicans can be best described as the right wing of the Progressive Movement in America," and "the more feckless of the group will step across the line and vote to acquit 'to save the nation.'" Plus which, "there'd be a nuclear explosion of American society as accusations of racism erupted across the land... major agents-provocateur like Sharpton, Jackson and any of the MSNBC clowns seeking to garner audience shares and turn sound bites into ratings while the drama of a Presidential Impeachment captures the press' attention across the globe." In this reading, Obama's blackness is his impeachment insurance, which you have to admit would be a pleasing historical irony.
Perhaps these cowboys will find themselves uplifted by a recent George F. Will column. Fresh from suggesting that co-eds get street cred for being raped, the pre-eminent conservative columnist tackled the President's "lawless" behavior: "making executive power compatible with democracy's abhorrence of arbitrary power," he said, is "now more urgent in America than at any time since the Founders, having rebelled against George III's unfettered exercise of 'royal prerogative,' stipulated that presidents 'shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'" If you think Will is saying that Obama is like George III, you're not quite accurate, but you did receive the impression he sought to convey. That's how the pros do it, folks!
Will argued that "Obama has suspended, waived and rewritten laws, including the Affordable Care Act" in contradiction of Constitutional principles. While "Presidents must exercise some discretion in interpreting laws," Obama is a Democrat -- we mean, Obama "has perpetrated more than 40 suspensions of laws," and in the version of the Constitution written in lemon juice invisible ink that Will is among the few living Americans to have held up to a lamp, this exceeds the allowable gimmes.
Congress could sue -- but alas, said Will, this requires "robust judicial assistance" -- that is, a sure thing on the bench. But "courts, understandably fearful of being inundated by lawsuits from small factions of disgruntled legislators, have been wary of granting legislative standing." That Obama's a slippery one -- hiding behind the tolerance of the law, just like that black guy in that cop show!
Was there then no Constitutional remedy? Well, said Will, "advocates of extreme judicial quietism to punish the supine people leave the people's representatives no recourse short of the extreme and disproportionate 'self help' of impeachment."
Not that Will encouraged impeachment, mind you -- he said it should be a "rare recourse" -- but to the Fox News analyst's audience, a nod's as good as a wink. Like we said, Will's a pro, and he knows how to keep his powder dry. But when the lawsuit idea inevitably fails -- and the Republicans get a majority in the Senate -- it will probably come time for Will and a bunch of other big-time wingnuts to join the small-timers and accept the painful necessity of impeachment. We'd like to offer this as a prediction, but really, it should be obvious to anyone who's paying attention.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.