Rightbloggers to Obama: Why're You Impeaching Yourself?
"Mind you, no elected Republican, Republican candidate or responsible commentator from the right is suggesting impeachment," bullshat Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post. "The president shouldn't be using a fateful and divisive word like 'impeachment' to raise money and rouse his base," gasped Peggy Noonan with her hand on her breastplate at the Wall Street Journal. "...He shouldn't be out there dropping his g's, slouching around a podium, complaining about his ill treatment, describing his opponents with disdain: 'Stop just hatin' all the time.'" Riff-raff!
"To be sure, impeaching President Obama has been a political fantasy on the right as well as the left for some time," said James Taranto at the Journal. Wait -- on the left? Was he talking about Ralph Nader? No, he meant that when Sarah Palin called for Obama's impeachment, MSNBC covered it -- takes two to tango, see?
"But one doesn't expect a high degree of seriousness from Palin or MSNBC," grandly allowed Taranto. "One does -- or at least one ought to be able to -- from the White House." Alas, Obama was letting Taranto down by reacting to conservative impeachment talk and, as is his wont, hurting America in the process: "It seems to us," said Taranto, "that this loose talk about impeachment is bad for the presidency itself, even if it proves harmless to the presidency of Barack Obama." How selfish!
Taranto added that this unfortunate state of affairs went back to Bill Clinton, whose defenders "responded to [his] impeachment by trivializing the charges against him" and "chanted," presumably in irreligious, Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo fashion, "that the case was just about 'sex,'" which "helped create a sense that impeachment is common, in both senses of the word." Republicans, on the other hand, were just doing their job as forced on them by a bad independent-counsel law. And there was room enough in Taranto's column for one last piece of both-sides-but-especially-yours schtick: "Political vulgarians on both right and left have been talking about impeachment for years -- now including the vulgarians who surround the president himself." That's how the pros do it, folks.
"Something rather dangerous is happening in American politics right now," said Ross Douthat with a flashlight under his chin at the New York Times -- and it wasn't "the confusion of House Republicans, or the general gridlock in Congress," he added, but "the course President Obama is pursuing in response" by having his allies "talking nonstop about an alleged Republican plan to impeach the president." This Douthat called "cynical," and even "destructive," because "anyone paying attention knows that no such impeachment plan is currently afoot" -- if we take "currently" to mean that everyone who talked it up before this week has now gotten the word to keep his mouth shut.
We have to admit enjoying this one -- especially for the sort of people it makes incredibly mad. (Via.)
Douthat then got to the second part of the scam: That if Obama did get impeached, it would not be for all the other reasons conservatives have been trying to impeach him over the years, but because he's just asking for it with the Latino kids.
If Obama executive-ordered that children who came here from Central America be allowed to stay, said Douthat, not only would that be bad (presumably for all the usual xenophobic reasons -- as we observed a few weeks back, once the huddled masses fail the paper bag test, that Statue of Liberty shit goes right out the window), it would also be "an extraordinary abuse of office," despite whatever "legal justifications" Obama might dress it up with, because mutter mutter Bill of Particulars to be named later.
And the "sordid sort of genius" of Obama's alleged plan, said Douthat, is "the threat of a unilateral amnesty contributes to internal G.O.P. chaos on immigration strategy, chaos which can then be invoked (as the president did in a Friday news conference) to justify unilateral action." That GOP immigration clusterfuck in the House last week? Obama made it happen with his mind-rays, and the clearly unconstitutional threat (what a tyrant!) of a veto.
"The impeachment predictions, meanwhile, help box Republicans in," claimed Douthat: "If they howl -- justifiably! -- at executive overreach, the White House gets to say 'look at the crazies -- we told you they were out for blood.'" So unfair! And if the Republicans go ahead and impeach Obama, anyone who complains will also be playing a Cynical and Destructive game with the truth. Q.E. Duh.
Some outlets spread the word to their true-believer base in a more unfiltered way. Breitbart.com headlined, "GOP RANK-AND-FILE DISCUSSES WAYS TO TAKE ON OBAMA OVER AMNESTY, INCLUDING IMPEACHMENT." Don't worry, they weren't going off the reservation -- they were just focusing on the immigration part of rightbloggers' new, double-barreled impeachment schtick for the Breitbart.com crowd, for whom the Who-Us-Impeach set-up is unnecessary.
"Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) told colleagues that the House should pass legislation with new steps to secure the border, and tell Obama if he didn't implement it, they would impeach him," reported the site's Jonathan Strong. In case readers weren't getting the message, Strong added, "'People were hissing at that because they don't want to go there,' said a GOP member who was in the room." Nod's as good as a wink.
"If reports about the nature of the [immigration] executive action [Obama] is contemplating are right," said Yuval Levin at National Review, "it would be by far the most blatant and explosive provocation in the administration's assault on the separation of powers, and could well be the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American president in peacetime." Well, gosh, you have to impeach him for that, right?
Levin also mentioned some of Obama's other crimes, e.g. "moving to compel nuns to buy contraception and abortive drugs for their employees," so readers would know he was hip to the jive, and ended, "it seems like just the sort of thing that a national leader would seek to avoid, rather than work to invite. Let's hope the reports aren't true." More in sorrow than in anger, people!
As it happens, National Review has been the mother ship of this impeachment-normalization movement. "... Sarah Palin and a few House Republicans aside - no Republican figure of consequence is coming out for impeachment," said John Fund, making good use of verb tenses. "Does Obama WANT to Get Impeached?" whooped Rich Lowry. "An administration that is fast entering its dotage could consider this one of the few potential positive game-changers that it has direct control over -- the Constitution and the rule of law be damned."
NatRev legacy pledge Jonah Goldberg said the "transparent glee" he perceived in Democratic fundraising emails meant "far more than Republicans, Democrats love talking about impeachment.... The cynicism of Obama's war on cynicism is breathtaking... Given Obama's famously low regard for the Clinton presidency, it's ironic that he keeps stealing from its playbook." Goldberg did not say where he heard about this "famously low regard" -- maybe he's one of those poor souls who find Ed Klein's Clinton fanfic believable -- but he did say that Obama wouldn't get the same briar-patch bump Clinton did from impeachment because "while Clinton was hardly immune to the charge of cynicism, he wasn't trying to shut down the government or get impeached for narrow political advantage," which makes two things Republicans actually did that Goldberg blamed on Obama. Maybe next week he'll also blame Obama for Mitt Romney.
The saddest case was perhaps NatRev's Andrew C. McCarthy, who has written a book called Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama's Impeachment, and is now forced by circumstances to pretend -- sweatily, like Nathan Thurm -- that he was not "calling for the president's impeachment at this point," but at some future point when the coast is clear.
Even under the interdict of New Realities, however, McCarthy still felt compelled to make his impeachment case in a sideways fashion: When Paul Ryan said Obama's actions didn't "rise to the high crime and misdemeanor level," for example, McCarthy could not be restrained from ejaculating, "Wrong. To repeat, 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' a British term of art borrowed by the Framers, does not refer to penal offenses. It refers to what Hamilton called 'the misconduct of public men, or in other words...'" etc.
Besides, McCarthy went on, while "it is perfectly understandable -- indeed, it is wise -- for Republicans to explain that there is no prospect of removing President Obama from power... It is, however, downright dumb to claim... that the president's misconduct is not serious enough to be considered impeachable..." Chill, dude, you're blowing our scene!
The punch line is that it wasn't only rightbloggers who went for this ridiculous, self-refuting story. Mainstream media bigwigs sought to prove their even-handedness by declaring that sure, some Republicans may have said some things but really, aren't both sides to blame -- the GOP for talking about impeaching Obama, Obama for being talked about?
"The leaders for both parties here -- they're driving away people from the polls, they're driving people away from politics," NBC's Chuck Todd piteously wept. "This is cynical, it's ugly, it's disgusting."
"There is a chance that the Republicans will try to impeach the President," admitted Joe Klein at Time magazine, but "The White House is playing with fire" by allowing this to be an issue and raising funds to combat it, because that's "raising the heat in a country that is already brain-fried by partisan frenzy." Klein even suggested Obama tell his troops, "I'm done with fundraising. This is an important election, but there's just too much going on in the world right now" -- as if in the post-Citizens United age that were anything but complete surrender to the well-funded machinations of the opposition.
"White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday called repeatedly for Republicans to stop talking about impeaching President Barack Obama," reported Politico -- but added, in what the editor must have thought was an admirably non-partisan weighing of clauses, "but said he wouldn't do the same for Democrats who've been fundraising off it nonstop in recent days."
And here's where the real "sordid sort of genius," to steal from Douthat, comes in: As crazy as rightbloggers may seem to you and us, when their thinking correlates this perfectly with the conservative-Republican mainstream, there will always be thumbsucking MSM types who will look at it, pull their chins, and think, hmm, both sides seem passionate, and that the obvious solution is to split the difference and call it a draw. Thus, nutcases whose credibility should have been shattered around their three-hundredth call for impeachment are ridiculously afforded a place at the table, leaving advocates for common sense at a massive disadvantage, since most of their energy must be devoted to restraining themselves from screaming, "this is fucking bullshit."