Dana Milbank notes with some amusement that a line seems to have been crossed:
History will record that on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary met to consider the impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama.The Atlantic's Philip Bump also covered the hearing, formally titled "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws." Bump notes that the Fox News preview of the hearings had a message calibration that was very similar to that of the hearings themselves: a guest enthusiastically invoked the I-word while a host expressed (faux-)caution:
They didn't use that word, of course. Republican leaders frown on such labeling because it makes the House majority look, well, crazy.
It is, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said from the dais, "the word that we don't like to say in this committee, and I'm not about to utter here in this particular hearing."
One of the majority's witnesses, Georgetown law professor Nicholas Rosenkranz, encouraged the Republicans not to be so shy. "I don't think you should be hesitant to speak the word in this room," he said. "A check on executive lawlessness is impeachment."
This gave the lawmakers courage....
And who better to make the case for impeachment on this than the always-even-tempered Judge Andrew Napolitano on fair and balanced Fox News? On Monday night, host Megyn Kelly introduced Napolitano by noting that he thinks Obama's decisions to revise immigration policy and let insurers hold off on cancellations for a year "rise to the level of an impeachable offense."Bump tries to suss out the logic behind all this, given the fact that the Senate would never vote to convict Obama after an impeachment:
When you have a president who is not faithfully enforcing the laws, who is frustrating the will of the Congress, who is doing the opposite of what Congress wanted -- Republicans in the House are going to look into this and may enact a resolution that points out he's doing that. Will it lead to impeachment? I don't know. But it will further diminish and destroy the trust he had with the American people.Then Kelly jumps back in: "Dicey political move for the GOP." Yes, right. But otherwise!
What savvier House Republicans clearly want to do is suggest that president's behavior is so egregious that it could warrant his removal from office, largely as a political tactic to try and make Obama think twice about going around them. (See also: Overton window.) For members like King, though, and pundits like Napolitano, they probably believe the hype, that this is the thing that will see Obama dragged from the Oval Office in disgrace, clearing the path for, well, President Biden, apparently.Or maybe impeachment is now the #1 thing that builds solidarity between deep-red members of Congress and the voters in their gerrymandered districts. Maybe it's the new Obamacare repeal.
Milbank quotes one congressman:
"I'm often asked this," said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) "You got to go up there, and you just impeach him."So maybe it doesn't matter that Republicans will never get the majority needed to convict in the Senate, even if the GOP takes over after the next midterms. (The Constitution says that a Senate conviction has to be by a two-thirds majority.) Impeachment is a shibboleth, a secret handshake, a bond between wingnut voters and the officeholders who represent them. As with Obamacare repeal, they agree that it could happen if the country weren't so depraved and decadent, so full of people who don't revere the Constitution in the very special way they do. They tell themselves that if they just try harder, fight like the Wolverines or Mel Gibson in Braveheart or whoever, they might reach the Promised Land.
On some level, they know it will never happen, of course. But the pols can see that this type of talk opens a lot of voters' wallets, and drives a lot of them to the polls in low-turnout elections. So it's worth it.
(Milbank link via DougJ.)