It appears that former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin went out on a limb when she said that the proper way to address President Barack Obama’s executive overreach would be to appeal to the impeachment process.
The ironic fact of the matter is that she has a point; the traditional remedy that the House is alleging in an anticipated lawsuit over Obama exceeding the limits of presidential authority would be impeachment (though whether Obama’s infractions rise to the level of “Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is debatable). The grounds on which House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will sue the White House will have to be on extraordinarily tailored grounds in order for the courts, which are usually trepidatious about adjudicating disputes between the executive and legislative branches, to take it up.
The problem with Palin’s impeachment recommendation is not process but politics. As Allahpundit documented on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ruled out impeachment in no uncertain terms. The GOP’s nominee for Senate in Iowa, Joni Ernst, backtracked after endorsing impeachment to claiming that she has seen no “evidence that the President should be impeached.”
Even Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the more conservative members of the House when he served and a Republican who maintains a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 97 percent as of 2011, ruled out impeachment. “I think so,” Flake told Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier on Wednesday when asked if impeachment proceedings would be “problematic” for his party.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board perhaps made the case against Palin’s call for impeachment a bit harshly when they implied that she was speaking purely out of self-interest.
“Sarah Palin joined the impeachment calls on Tuesday, which could mean that the former Alaska Governor has been feeling neglected,” the WSJ editorial read. “She is following the talk radio hosts and obscure authors who are trying to increase audience share or sell books by posing as Mr. Obama’s loudest opponents.”
Mrs. Palin immediately received the media fillip she wanted, especially from MSNBC and the left-wing websites that want to portray the fading GOP star as a conservative leader. Progressives would like nothing better than for Republicans to try to impeach Mr. Obama, so they could scare up otherwise demoralized Democratic voters to come to the polls this November.
The Journal is correct, however, in that the Democrats would love to run in 2014 on Republican impeachment proceedings. In their absence, they are already fundraising off of Palin’s comments.
“Yesterday, Sarah Palin called for President Obama’s impeachment,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote in a fundraising email. “Usually, I’d completely ignore this, but she’s not alone. Next week, Speaker Boehner will launch a three-week show trial leading up to a frivolous lawsuit against President Obama.”
Republicans in Congress are acutely aware of the negative impact the impeachment of Bill Clinton had on their electoral prospects. Impeachment reversed the historic headwinds the party in control of the White House faces in a president’s sixth year and turned them into a gale blowing directly in the GOP’s face. Republicans lost five seats in the House and made no gains in the Senate in 1998, and the GOP does not want to repeat that history.