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Impeaching like it’s 1999

18 Jun

Jonathan Capehart rallies Democrats with the fear that a GOP-controlled House and Senate will impeach and remove President Obama from office.

Writing about Rep. Eric Cantor’s  (R-Va.) stunning primary defeat last week, I warned Democrats that the House majority leader’s loss was as much a wake-up call for them as it was for the GOP. Well, now I want to warn them about a very real possibility: President Obama will be impeached if the Democrats lose control of the U.S. Senate.

It’s a noble get-out-the vote effort, but is it a rational consideration? I suppose when considering the current state of the GOP, it’s rational to bet on their collective irrationality. In the forty years since President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment, we no longer discuss the procedure on legal grounds of any sort but basically whether there are enough votes for a party to overturn the results of an election. At least with President Clinton, there was a lengthy independent counsel investigation and a corresponding official report that beat 50 Shades of Grey to the erotica punch.

So, the Republicans need an actual crime or at least a stained dress. Would they proceed without one? Who knows with these guys. The House has become a telenovela — we don’t even expect reasonable behaviors and predictable motivations. I do disagree with Capehart’s math regarding the Senate. Even if it flips to the GOP, they won’t have two-thirds of the vote to remove the president from office.

Actually, impeachment is a two-step process that starts in the House. All it takes is a simple majority of that chamber to approve a single article of impeachment against the president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Once that happens, a president is forever branded as having been impeached. President Andrew Johnson (1868) and President Bill Clinton (1998) share that distinction.

I doubt the average high school student or even Game of Thrones-watching adult remembers Clinton was impeached or even who Andrew Johnson is (no, not the guy on the $20). The impeachment “brand” was so devastating to the Clinton brand that allowed his wife to successfully run for the Senate in 2000. And Bill Clinton is more an active public figure than his successor. He’s hardly hiding away in the shadows.

No, I think the true question is whether the GOP wants to do Obama the favor of impeaching him. Or maybe they just think that’s what you do to two-term Democratic presidents.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Political Theatre

 

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One response to “Impeaching like it’s 1999

  1. observeratlarge

    June 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    As disappointed as I am in Obama, there is certainly no grounds for impeachment. And a nation that can’t even stomach shutting the government down for a couple of weeks is never going to allow the Congress to impeach the president without valid grounds. The voters will crucify them.

     

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