It was really curious to see Brit Hume worked up into a lather about impeachment on last night’s Special Report on Fox. The usually mild-mannered Brit had some uncharacteristically harsh words for those who would like to impeach Pres. Obama:
Remember that old saying, ‘I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid”? House Republicans may sometimes be dumb but they’re nowhere near stupid enough to try to impeach President Obama. To be sure, there are people in the feverish swamps of the Right who fantasize about such things, but not even Senator Ted Cruz, who has exhibited an attraction to foolish political moves in the past, is talking impeachment.
On the other hand, the die-hard Obama apologists on Special Report’s All-Star Panel both last night and tonight were actually more clear-headed than Brit. Juan Williams last night said, “The real remedy in terms of if the president has exceeded authority, as we’ve heard it described, would be to say that this president is deserving of a vote by the House on impeachment.” And Charles Lane tonight said something similar, almost with a laugh in his voice. It’s so obvious, but there is abject fear on the part of establishment Republicans to go there.
So instead we have this hapless lawsuit being pushed by John Boehner, clearly because he doesn’t have the guts to impeach. He knows that the Republican rank and file want something done, and this is a way to appear to be trying to rein in the president without the risk of actually being successful. Mr. Speaker, I have news for you: Congress is a co-equal branch of government – co-equal to the president and the judiciary. Charles Lane mocked the lawsuit asking if Boehner thought the founders should have stuck a clause in the Constitution saying that if the House didn’t want to impeach that it could sue. He’s right. Boehner is simply passing the buck, trying to shuffle off to the courts the responsibility that he refuses to take. And the lawsuit is likely to fail, which will only embolden Obama all the more. Constitutional scholar Mark Levin has guessed that the likely reaction of the courts is going to be that Congress has two excellent tools at its disposal for reining in a lawless president without having to go whining to the judiciary. It has the power of the purse, and it has impeachment. If the House of Representatives won’t stand up for itself, why should the courts stand up for it?
Brit Hume last night clearly demonstrated the irrational fear gripping many establishment Republicans over this issue. He totally dodged the substance of the question, whether or not Obama has abused his authority. You see, I have an advantage in evaluating this – I was very much politically active during the Nixon years and I remember how the whole country assumed Nixon would be impeached and removed for abuses of presidential power that, when compared to what Obama has done, were relatively minor. But Brit Hume would not go there. Instead, he talked about the terrible political price Republican paid in the 1998 elections when they impeached Clinton. But he glossed over the fact that impeachment was taken up after the midterm elections. And Republicans lost only three seats in the House. And Clinton was a popular president where Obama is not. And House Republicans at the time were mired in squabbling over Newt Gingrich’s leadership, which could easily explain their losses.
Furthermore, Brit Hume was trying to paint those favoring impeachment as fringe. In actuality, a recent poll showed that 68% of Republicans and 9% of Democrats think that Congress would be justified in impeaching Obama. Overall, 35% in the poll felt that impeachment was justified and an additional 21% were not sure. Brit is clearly out of touch and under emotional distress over this issue.
Here’s my reaction to all this fear over the political fallout from an effort to impeach Obama:
1. How about just doing the right thing, instead of obsessing over the political implications?
2. These Republicans wringing their hands over the political consequences of impeaching Obama are the same ones who were telling us that it would be political suicide for Republicans to shut down the government. Well, Republicans let Obama shut down the government, and they seem to be doing just fine, aren’t they?
Hume, Boehner, and the rest of you: Just do the right thing. Maybe if Congress looked like it actually had statesmen in it their approval ratings would improve.
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