It’s no secret that many Republicans have barely viewed the presidency of Barack Obama as illegitimate. Even before he became president, we heard about the crazy idea that he was secretly born in Kenya and that people plotted throughout his life to make him eventually become president. That just proved that a significant minority of people were so angry and scared by him that they had to delude themselves into believing a vast conspiracy theory to explain his perceived “anti-Americanness”.
And of course, the outrage based on lies didn’t stop there. Republicans have searched long and hard for any scandal that would bring down the president, but unfortunately for them nothing serious has materialized. So they’ve resorted to making stuff up, or blowing things completely out of proportion. Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the IRS “scandal”, Benghazi, Bowe Bergdahl, the VA waiting times…some of these “scandals” have even been made possible by Republicans in Congress, whether through lack of funding (Benghazi, VA) or a general lack of cooperation (Bergdahl).
But thanks to Fox News and other conservative media, these “scandals” have taken root with many grassroots conservatives. The Republican base believes that Obama may be an illegitimate president, and has definitely committed illegal acts while in office, and they believe that he should be impeached for it. According to a recent poll, 57% of Republicans wanted Obama to be impeached, while only 35% of the American public as a whole is in favor of impeachment.
And that is the Republicans’ problem, in a nutshell. John Boehner recently said that the talk of impeaching Obama is just “a scam started by the White House”. But when almost 3/5ths of Republicans want to impeach, it’s pretty clear that there’s more to it than that. Several senators and representatives have brought the subject up in the past few years, but recently the talk escalated even higher with Sarah Palin openly calling for impeachment.
Boehner’s denial is yet another example of the line “moderate” Republicans have to walk in this political climate. They know that if they talk too much about impeachment, most Americans will just be turned off of them and their message, and the Democratic base will come strongly to Obama’s defense in the November elections. But if they don’t talk about it at all, they risk the grassroots conservatives becoming impatient, and trying to replace them with “true believers” who will fight to impeach, consequences be damned.
The Democrats have been taking advantage of the Republican disarray. On one day near the end of July during the height of impeachment talk, the organization in charge of electing Democrats to the House of Representatives took in over $1 million in donations, their fourth largest day ever.
Let’s get it straight–even if the Republicans win the Senate in November (which they won’t), impeachment isn’t going to happen. It would take a majority vote from the House of Representatives, and that seems unlikely, since voters in 2016 would remember who dragged the country through an unnecessary impeachment trial, and Republicans know that. In the improbable case that it does pass the House, it would require a 2/3rds vote in the Senate, and nobody thinks that would be possible, even in a Republican-controlled Senate. So maybe the Democratic leaders in Congress should tell Sarah Palin to keep it up–she’s only hurting her own party.