Palin's impeachment blast: A great opportunity to call out Republicans' bluff

Sarah Palin wants President Obama impeached. Why won't others who believe he's flouting the law call for the same?

Published July 9, 2014 5:30PM (EDT)

Sarah Palin                                     (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
Sarah Palin (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Yesterday's most shocking news was that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called for President Obama's impeachment in the estimable pages of Breitbart News. "Shocking" not because she felt the need to (successfully) win herself another flash of attention, but because, wait, she hadn't called for his impeachment already? It's almost been six years. What kind of a RINO squish is she?

What's sad is that Sarah Palin spouting off in Breitbart News does, in 2014, matter to an extent within GOP politics. Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly generously describes the moment as "the first big-time national GOP figure to directly call for the president’s impeachment." (Poor Allen West.) "But now that she’s broken the seal," Kilgore adds, "it will be interesting to see if competitive pressure builds on other pols — say, the ones who want to become Obama’s successor assuming he finishes his term — to follow her lead, or conversely, to repudiate it." Yes, it's a slow summer, with August recess town halls looming, creating an opportunity for reporters and citizens alike to ask every GOP politician whether they believe it's proper to commence impeachment proceedings on the president.

Why look, the fun has already begun:

[embedtweet id="486877309236834304"]

Of course John Boehner will say he disagrees; if he says he agrees, then that would raise all sorts of obvious questions about why he hasn't brought impeachment to the floor already and when he intends to do so. His denial does beg other obvious questions, however. How can a man who's just written that "too often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold," reject impeachment? If there really is an "imperial president" who's so out of line with the law, doesn't Boehner have a constitutional responsibility to bring up articles of impeachment?

It is absurd that the political media is even entertaining this midterm messaging about the "imperial presidency" and Obama's willful skirting of the law as a serious matter of debate. And it's brilliant, on the GOP's part, that the plan has worked so well thus far. All it really is is an attempt to cover up the fact that House Republicans have decided not to act on fixing the immigration system for reasons of political expedience. Has this already been forgotten?

Consider the last straw that Sarah Palin draws in her impeachment piece: the ongoing border refugee crisis. "Without borders, there is no nation," Palin writes. "Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America." Obama's "deliberate" opening of the borders, according to Palin, is an impeachable dereliction of presidential duty -- perhaps even treason. (Never mind that Obama, to the chagrin of immigration activists concerned about the humanity of our deportation system, is now working as hard as he can to send these thousands of children back to the Central American countries from which they came.)

Palin's belief that the border refugee situation is not just a failure of policy, but a "deliberate" move by President Obama to undermine the nation, is not far outside the mainstream of Republican thought these days. And at least Sarah Palin is consistent in positing this belief and saying it merits impeachment. If you believe that Obama is deliberately violating the law, how can you not call for impeachment?

Because impeachment, of course, would not be politically expedient for the Republican Party, and there's no case. It would be the overreach of overreaches, especially since there's no way it would be successful. Even if the GOP controls the Senate next year, conviction requires a two-thirds supermajority vote. Since it's still not clear what law President Obama would be tried for breaking -- at least with Bill Clinton, they had perjury! --we have a hard time seeing how the prosecution might cobble together 67 votes.

Commentators should be grateful to Sarah Palin for "breaking the seal" on impeachment talk, and should absolutely use the opportunity to call out Republicans on their rhetoric. If Obama is flagrantly in violation of the law, a claim around which your entire election-year messaging apparatus is wrapped, then do you support impeachment? If not, why?

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Border Crisis Gop House Gop Immigration Immigration Reform Impeachment John Boehner Republicans Sarah Palin