Tag Archives: impeachment

Impeaching like it’s 1999

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.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Political Theatre


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Obama on the Bubble…

According to this USA Today article, President Obama’s “weekly ratings” have hit a record low. Google News had 6,010 results for “Obama ratings,” so I suppose it’s as important a measurement tool for Obama’s performance as the Nielsen ratings for TV and the weekend box office results for movies.

The question now is how to improve these numbers? Clearly, the debt-ceiling debacle has been a momentum killer, perhaps even a “jump-the-shark” plot line. If things don’t turn around, there’s a good chance Obama won’t be renewed next year.

Can this “on-the-bubble” administration be saved? Here are some options:

Replace Speaker Boehner: Obama needs a good antagonist, but John Boehner is as supercilious and unlikable as Frank Burns on “M*A*S*H.” When Burns left the series after the fifth season, his replacement was Charles Emerson Winchester III. He still gave Hawkeye a hard time but he was a competent surgeon and frequently demonstrated basic humanity, as opposed to the cartoonish Burns. Unfortunately, the only Republican from Massachusetts — where Winchester hailed — is Scott Brown and he’s a senator. Still, the former “Cosmo” model might have the appeal necessary to increase audience interest.

Bring Back Osama bin Laden: It turns out that killing bin Laden was a short-sighted May sweeps stunt. There was a brief spike in the ratings but now no one remembers or cares. Perhaps Americans realize the ongoing economic crisis is a greater and more immediate threat to their way of life than the machinations of a pornography-viewing madman… or they just could have incredibly short memories and are only ever aware of what’s happening three feet in front of them. Either way, you don’t knock off your star villain and not expect to lose a good chunk of your audience. Does anyone read those “Star Wars” novels that take place after Darth Vader dies? Imagine bin Laden returning from the grave for an epic confrontation in time for November sweeps? That’s entertainment.

Bring Back Bill Clinton: This guy is a ratings bonanza. He once had an approval rating of 73 percentafter being impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. They actually rose 10 percent after his impeachment. Obama’s peaked at 60 percentafter ordering the successful killing of a terrorist mastermind. Only 30 percent of Americans wanted Clinton to resign after his impeachment. That’s just marginally more than the number of Americans who believed Obama was born in another country (no, really). Clearly, Clinton has star wattage.

The face of a time when the U.S. was at peace and had two nickels to rub together. So, that's when we impeached the president ... because I guess that makes sense.

More Tragedy and Romance: As Tolstoy said, “all happy families are alike… and deathly dull.” The highly rated Clintons provided plenty of salacious, soap-opera storylines. There were naughty interns and betrayed spouses. America couldn’t stop watching. Conversely, the Obamas are like the Huxtables but less funny. They should take a cue from David and Sherry Palmer on “24.” That was “Macbeth” with soul. The Obamas should also consider adopting another child — maybe Lindsay Lohan.

Let’s hope this helps. However, if America’s credit rating falls — actually less of a shocker given the national debt than the fact that it was ever deemed “top-notch” — Obama’s own ratings might not matter. Sort of like when Conan O’Brien left NBC for TBS. Expectations are revised.

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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Political Theatre


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