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Jul. 30, 2014

The Impeachment Endgame

Who's talking impeachment? Democrats and their media lemmings, that's who.

Stop me, I dare you.

Who’s talking about impeachment? Democrats and their media lemmings, that’s who. They want everyone to believe it’s really a Republican scheme, but don’t be fooled. Democrats need to motivate their base and raise some money with scary talk about impeaching the first black president.

Furthermore, all the impeachment talk may be softening the beaches ahead of Barack Obama issuing a mass immigration legalization executive order upon his return from another lavish vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. Such an action would be a constitutionally impeachable offense. Democrats seem to be baiting Republicans into a corner where they say they have no plans for impeachment, giving Obama “more flexibility.”

According to the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, in recent days, “first lady Michelle Obama, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, White House spokesman Josh Earnest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and others have raised the specter of an Obama impeachment.” Clearly, it’s a talking point.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) observed, “This might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president.”

To be sure, there are a few Republicans talking about impeachment – namely Sarah Palin, but she isn’t exactly in a position to do much about it. In the House, where such proceedings would begin, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) says impeachment would be on the table if Obama were to unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. “From my standpoint, if the president [enacts more executive actions], we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives,” King said.

Unfortunately, King is practically writing the Democrats’ fundraising emails for them. And it’s working. In the last week, Democrats have raised well over $3 million with fundraising pitches fueling speculation about impeachment.

This political game is one reason why Republican leadership opted instead for the weaker option of suing the president, focusing only on his illegal delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) calls any talk of impeachment a Democrat “scam,” and he insists, “We have no plans to impeach the president.”

Article II, Section 4 sets a high bar for impeachment: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It’s happened only twice – Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 – and they were each acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon would have been impeached had he not first resigned.

Regrettably, impeachment is now little more than a political charade to motivate the bases of both parties while alienating the political middle. Democrats turned Clinton’s impeachment into a three-ring circus, won his acquittal, and against all odds even picked up House seats in the 1998 midterm election. The damage went beyond that, however. Clinton not only evaded justice for his wrongdoing (which was far more serious than a fling with Monica Lewinsky), he undermined the usefulness and severity of impeachment as a check on the abuse of power.

As The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto argues, “Now that a presidential impeachment is a fairly recent memory, the prospect of impeachment is taken more seriously. But because of the defense Clinton mounted, the substance of impeachment has become trivialized.”

Does Obama deserve to be impeached? Almost certainly – especially if he grants amnesty without Congress. But that doesn’t mean impeachment is an effective strategy. Even if the House voted to impeach Obama, there’s no way two-thirds of Harry Reid’s Senate would vote to convict, rendering the process ineffective. And it would likely inflict mortal damage to Republican hopes to retake the Senate in November.

Don’t forget that if impeachment were to succeed, Joe Biden would take over. Perish the thought!

Obama has abused his power left and further left, constantly using that infamous pen in part to provoke impeachment. Numerous polls reveal the American people think he has exceeded his authority, and voters would even elect Mitt Romney in a do-over. Hindsight is 20/20. But while a majority of Republicans back impeachment, it’s not an idea gaining much traction with the public.

Democrats’ seeming strategy is a smart one. Republicans can’t appear to be seeking impeachment, which gives Obama even greater latitude to force his will. Their endgame marginalizes the GOP while advancing their agenda. For Republicans, that makes winning the Senate even more critical.

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