Nearly two years into President Obama’s second term, a do-nothing Republican Congress is focusing on its next project: the 2014 midterm elections. But that effort might be complicated by increasing pressure from the party’s base to turn Congress’ energy to impeaching President Obama. The impeachment call, which has existed on the right-wing fringe since the start of Obama’s presidency, has picked up steam in recent weeks as it has been endorsed by right-wing media figures, activists and elected officials.
This has put Republican congressional leaders in a tricky spot as they attempt to placate their base without alienating moderate voters. When House Majority Whip Steve Scalise appeared on Fox News Sunday this week, he continually dodged the question. Ted Cruz similarly batted away a question about impeachment, calling it politically unfeasible. Right-wing leaders including Pat Buchanan and Tom DeLay have urged caution in the impeachment campaign, although DeLay said he would personally “love to impeach him.” Likewise, Karl Rove has warned that when it comes to impeachment, “the politics of it are all wrong.”
Even Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, who last year distributed to every office on Capitol Hill a book on why the president should be impeached and removed from office and hired an attorney to look into impeachment, is now backtracking and warning that impeachment proceedings could benefit Democrats in the midterm elections.
Now, House Speaker John Boehner is claiming that talk of impeachment is a Democratic “scam” to win voters…an odd claim since it’s members of his own party who have been beating the drum about impeachment.
But it might be too late for Republicans to backtrack on a steady buildup of rhetoric questioning the president’s legitimacy, love of country, and authority to govern, which has led to increasing calls for impeachment from right-wing lawmakers, activists and media personalities… although nobody can quite agree on what the impeachment should be for.
- In a radio interview last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that she believed the president has “committed impeachable offenses” but that first “the American people have to agree with and be behind and call for the president’s impeachment.”
- This month, Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said that there are “probably” the votes in the House to impeach the president for “absolutely ignoring the Constitution, and ignoring the laws, and ignoring the checks and balances.”
- Also last year, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan said that impeaching the president would be “a dream come true.”