If you're a regular reader, you know that I think John Boehner is a lot smarter than most people think he is. I don't think he's shown any governance skills, but that's because he's given up on governing, just like the rest of his party. Instead, he's good at what he's trying to be good at, which is holding on to his job as the well-remunerated keeper of an angry nest of poisonous snakes without being blamed for anyone else's snakebite death, and without being bitten himself.
I'm watching the gamesmanship surrounding impeachment, and I have to say that Boehner is doing a pretty good job of persuading the rest of the Beltway that Republicans are the voice of reason. I especially enjoy the way someone from Team Boehner -- it has to be one of his people, acting anonymously -- spoon-fed the Washington Examiner's Byron York some anecdotes portraying Boehner as the anti-impeachment voice of reason in 1998, as if that's proof that the current class of crazies nominally under his command would never demand impeachment:
In September of '98, independent counsel Kenneth Starr sent a report to the GOP-controlled Congress that was essentially a road map for impeachment.Boehner is now arguing that impeachment talk is just something President Obama is crying wolf about, in order to fundraise and win votes:
Congress followed the map. But before impeachment came the midterms. Many top Republicans felt that all GOP candidates had to do was run ads bashing Clinton and tying him to Democratic candidates. Victory would follow.
But other Republicans -- including some close to Rep. John Boehner, who at the time was still a relatively junior member of the House -- felt Republicans should campaign on their accomplishments since winning the majority in 1994.
"Boehner was of the opinion that we need to prove what we had done in the last four years as a majority," says one strategist involved in the discussions. "Unemployment going down, growth going up, the budget balanced." Republicans on Boehner's side put together a document known as "the playbook" to sketch out an issue-based campaign.
But the people who ran the party's central campaign apparatus had other ideas....
"Listen, this whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president's own staff, and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's election," the Ohio Republican told reporters, in response to a question.Politico seconds that:
"We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans," a visibly frustrated Boehner said. "Listen, it's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House."
It's not enough that Boehner’s House is preparing to sue the president over his use of executive authority; Democrats are busily trying to craft a narrative that the president will shortly be on trial in the Capitol.And, Hot Air's Noah Rothman finds a lefty journalist arguing that Boehner has a point:
The tactic has brought big dollars into Democrats' coffers, and it has kept Republican aides and lawmakers busy as they keep swatting down the idea whenever it sprouts up.
"Have you noticed this impeach Obama talk lately?" MSNBC's Chris Hayes asked on Monday night. "Is it possible this is all a masterful stroke of Democrats running a false flag operation?"Of course, plenty of Republicans have been talking about impeachment. It's understandable that Democrats are trying to rally the base by pointing out this actually existing impeachment talk.
But Boehner and his impeachment-averse allies have done something very clever by flooding the zone with Obama-wants-impeachment talk: they've persuaded the insider press that Boehner is the reasonable one and Obama the reckless and divisive one, and they've given Republican officeholders who might be hearing impeachment talk from Fox-crazed constituents a counternarrative: We shouldn't pursue impeachment because that's what Obama wants us to do! So now not pursuing impeachment seems like the thing to do if you hate Obama.
And meanwhile, the White House is floating a trial balloon suggesting that the president may make a bold unilateral move on immigration just before the midterms. The AP story reporting this mentions the possibility of impeachment in its second paragraph:
Such a large-scale move on immigration could scramble election-year politics and lead some conservative Republicans to push for impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama, a prospect White House officials have openly discussed.In the battle for the hearts and minds of the MSM -- which will shape this story for most people -- I'm afraid Boehner is looking like the guy who's maintaining calm, while Obama looks like the guy who's fostering division. That, of course, ignores what's actually been going on in America since ... oh, January 20, 2009. But what do you expect from the press?
Boehner is winning this one. He may still lose if Obama makes an immigration move and the crazies howl for impeachment. But he's also giving them a reason not to.
UPDATE: It's working if this guy is anti-impeachment now.
New Blog Post: Impeachment Calls Are Ploy By Democrats http://t.co/kqXbH9GO2p— Joe the Plumber (@RealJTP) July 30, 2014