Two presidents in the history of the American Republic have been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both would later be acquitted by the Senate. A third, Richard Nixon, would face impeachment charges but resign instead. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment proceedings.
So what makes anyone think Barack Obama will be the first?
The most recent talk of impeachment, and one presumes subsequent conviction, seems to have started when Sarah Palin called for action in a Breitbart column. She writes, in part:
President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights.
It’s not that her diagnosis is wrong. It’s not. The Obama Administration ignores federal law when convenient. The Supreme Court has repeatedly and unanimously rejected the administration’s actions as unconstitutional. There’s little doubt the Constitution is used as anything other than toilet paper in this White House.
Rather, it’s Palin’s suggested course of action that’s so off-base:
It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.
The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.
Then no one is. Because Barack Obama is not going to be impeached; not in the legal sense of mere indictment nor in the broader sense of actual removal from office. It’s not going to happen. Barring some Watergate-like revelation where both parties concede he has to go, it’s out of the question.
First of all, even if Republican leadership passed articles of impeachment, Democrats control the United States Senate. Even if Republicans win the chamber in November, conviction requires two-thirds majority. Find me 67 Senators to remove Barack Obama from office in a chamber controlled by his own party, or even just barely controlled by the opposition.
So impeaching him is a futile endeavor. You’re not going to remove the man from office.
What you may very well end up doing, however, is scaring low-information voters and progressive activists into turning out in November. Democrats will warn that Republicans will use a Senate majority to remove America’s first black president, and his supporters will turn out to protect him. At the very least you end up alienating moderate voters who might otherwise support the Republican challenger.
Can we not? Can we not give Democrats a driving purpose to turn out in a midterm election year? Can we not turn off moderate and independent voters who might otherwise support our guy? Can we not risk remaining in the Senate minority in pursuit of a futile endeavor? Can we be smart politically for once? Here’s the end result of an impeachment push: Barack Obama is still president and Harry Reid remains Senate Majority Leader. What a victory.
Not convinced yet? Here’s food for thought: President Biden. There’s a concept that should scare even Mrs. Biden.