Here’s what’s wrong with the “Impeach Obama!” narrative

Well, we could start out by saying — everything. But let’s focus on some specifics by members of the media and the Republican Party. Let’s discuss what they’ve been saying and reporting about the possibility of impeaching President Obama.

The Beltway conventional wisdom these days is that Democrats are the ones pushing impeachment talk, both to raise money and to rev up their base for the mid-term elections in November. It’s true that progressive inboxes have exploded with emails from the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), the DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Commitee), OFA (Organizing for Action), the DNC (Democratic National Committee), and whatever other kinds of alphabet soup combinations that raise money for Democrats, all asking for funds. But to say that Republicans haven’t been talking about impreachment only means that Beltway talking heads have been taking siestas. Consider these recent statements:

* A few days ago, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has his own show on the Fox News Channel, was on a right-wing, Iowa-based radio talk show and said: “There’s no doubt that he has done plenty of things worthy of impeachment. … There’s a big difference between what we owe God and what we owe Caesar, and right now we’ve got Caesar acting like God.”

(Caesar, huh? Could a right-wing cartoon of Obama in a toga be far behind?)

* Rep. Bill Flores (R, Texas), said in a telephone town hall with constituents: “If you were to ask persons and many folks in the House, has the president violated the law and will he be worthy of impeachment, I think a fair number of people would say yes.”

* Rep. Walter Jones (R, N.C.) was one of five Republicans who voted against the GOP’s Obama lawsuit because it wasn’t right-wing enough. Just impeach already, he said on a radio show in Greenville, N.C. “Use the Constitution, that’s what it is there for.” Jones said impeachment was designed to get a president’s attention when he or she surpassed executive authority.

(Do we have to go through this again? You Tea Party types really should read the U.S. Constitution. Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution lists the possible reasons for impeachment: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Nowhere does it mention “getting a president’s attention.”)

* Rep. Steve King (R, Deport ’em all) raised the prospect of pursuing “that ‘I’ word that we don’t want to say.”

* In a recent Sunday morning TV interview, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R, I-let-lobbyists-sit-in-on-interviews-for-staff-members) refused multiple opportunities to say that impeachment is off the table for the GOP.

* A GOP House candidate in Tennessee, State Sen. Jim Tracy, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press: “I would be open to impeachment as an option to put a stop to the out-of-control executive orders and overreach this president has shown.” Since he’s running in the Tennessee primary against the disgraced Rep. Scott DesJarlais in a very red district, it’s likely he’ll be in the U.S. House in January and just itchin’ to hit the impeachment button.

* And let’s not forget $arah Palin, the half-term Alaskan governor who wants you to spend good money to listen to her spout idiocies on her own TV channel. She claims that God wants Obama impeached. “This president’s forgotten man is we the people, and we the people know that our best days are still ahead because we know that God shed his grace. He’s given us our freedom to do what’s right. God doesn’t drive parked cars.”

(“God doesn’t drive parked cars.” It’s hard to know how to even respond to that kind of crazy.)

Let’s add to the list other Republicans who have brought up impeachment: Sen. James Inhofe (R, Stone Age), Sen. Tom Coburn (R, You-have-to-listen-to-me-because-I’m-a-doctor), Rep. Louis Gohmert (R, Craziest Guy in Congress), Rep. Ted Yoho (R, Really Looney), and many, many more, including Rep. Steve Stockman (R, Texas, of course) who said, “President Obama is begging to be impeached.” And a collection of Teabaggers has organized a “Impeach Obama Week,” with its own website. I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t link to it.

Of course, Republicans are trying to have it both ways. House Speaker John Boehner (R, Sun Lamp) dismissed the entire story as a “scam” that Democrats “started” as an election-year stunt. Too bad that so many Republicans are feeding the narrative.

In a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post, Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., spelled out “Five myths about impeachment.” As he discusses the money raised on both sides over the impeachment threat, he writes: “The money pouring in would be just as well spent on defense against Bigfoot. Much of the debate has been more mythological than constitutional.” Read the whole thing for a clear explanation of what the conditions are that warrant impeachment. Specifically, he says that impeachment is not just anything Congress says it is; it does not have to involve a criminal act;  it is not like recalling a governor; there is no clear historical precedent; and that Obama will not be impeached.

“Obama is as likely to be impeached as he is to be installed as the next pontiff,” Turley writes. “And I say that as someone who has testified in Congress that this president has violated federal laws, unconstitutionally appointed various executive-branch officers and improperly transferred money. Nevertheless, many of these disputes have divided judges on the merits. Presidents are allowed to challenge Congress in such conflicts without being subject to impeachment. Where they cross the line is when they ignore final judicial rulings in acts of contempt of both courts and Congress. Obama has not done that.”

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