Sorry, Sarah Palin, House Conservatives Don’t Think Obama Should Be Impeached Either

Even tea-party allies in Congress say impeachment would backfire.

National Journal
July 15, 2014, 8:21 a.m.
“If you’re go­ing to im­peach a pres­id­ent of the United States you need to do it right. And it’s already Ju­ly.”

Pres­id­ent Obama will not be im­peached — at least not this year. Des­pite a ral­ly­ing cry in far-right me­dia led by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Pal­in, tea-party mem­bers of Con­gress on Tues­day echoed House Speak­er John Boehner in say­ing they have no in­terest in pur­su­ing an im­peach­ment.

At their monthly “Con­ver­sa­tions with Con­ser­vat­ives” lunch­eon, six of the House Re­pub­lic­an con­fer­ence’s lead­ing con­ser­vat­ive voices re­jec­ted the pos­sib­il­ity of im­peach­ment out­right. For one thing, they ar­gue, there’s not much time left in the term for a lengthy im­peach­ment pro­cess. But they also sug­ges­ted that the con­sequences of tak­ing that kind of ac­tion against the pres­id­ent could be polit­ic­ally dan­ger­ous for the Re­pub­lic­an Party.

Voices on the right have called for Con­gress to im­peach the pres­id­ent for not en­for­cing the law, point­ing strongly to­ward his delay of the em­ploy­er man­date in the Af­ford­able Care Act and en­force­ment along the bor­der, as well as for with­hold­ing in­form­a­tion from Con­gress, as in the ex­change of five Taliban pris­on­ers for Army Sgt. Bowe Ber­g­dahl earli­er this year. For now, con­ser­vat­ives ap­pear to be sa­ti­ated by House Speak­er John Boehner’s de­cision to file a law­suit against the pres­id­ent over the em­ploy­er-man­date is­sue, in lieu of im­peach­ment.

Rep. Raul Lab­rador, R-Idaho, said he didn’t be­lieve that the pres­id­ent’s ac­tions have yet reached the level of im­peach­able of­fenses and ar­gued that the party shouldn’t “even be talk­ing about im­peach­ment at this time.” Asked spe­cific­ally about Pal­in’s com­ments in a Fox News on­line column titled “The Case for Obama’s Im­peach­ment,” Lab­rador noted that she, as a former gov­ernor, has more lee­way to make such bold de­clar­a­tions and does not have to deal with the con­sequences. “[Pal­in] doesn’t have the bur­den of lead­er­ship right now, and it’s very easy for her to go on Fox News and make state­ments that she doesn’t have to be ac­count­able to any­body but her­self,” he said.

Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., ad­ded that polit­ic­al ana­lysts who have looked at the pos­sib­il­ity of an im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ing have found time and again that it would merely rile up the Demo­crat­ic base, just in time for Novem­ber’s midterm elec­tions. What’s more, it could turn off in­de­pend­ent voters who “right now are lean­ing our way,” he ad­ded. “So if you want to help the Demo­crats keep con­trol of the Sen­ate, this would be the right way to do that,” Duncan said.

Rep. Joe Bar­ton, R-Texas, who voted to im­peach Pres­id­ent Clin­ton (“every chance I could,” he joked), said there just isn’t time left in this term for the House to take up im­peach­ment — par­tic­u­larly if mem­bers want to pass any oth­er le­gis­la­tion this term.

Bar­ton didn’t take a side on wheth­er Obama should be im­peached, call­ing the mat­ter “de­bat­able,” but he also ad­ded that the Sen­ate would nev­er vote to con­vict him. “As a prac­tic­al mat­ter it wouldn’t be pos­sible even if we made the de­cision to do it…. If you’re go­ing to im­peach a pres­id­ent of the United States you need to do it right. And it’s already Ju­ly,” he said.

Of the six mem­bers present, only Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, ar­gued that Obama ought to be im­peached, but he agreed with his col­leagues that such a de­cision would be prac­tic­ally im­possible this late in the term. “I don’t think it’s prac­tic­al that we im­peach him right now, but, ab­so­lutely, he de­serves it,” he said.

Rep. Duncan, who was also present for Clin­ton’s im­peach­ment, summed it up simply: “When some­body’s shoot­ing them­selves in the foot, you don’t take away their gun.”

“And nobody wants a Pres­id­ent Joe Biden,” Lab­rador ad­ded, to laughter.

Cor­rec­tion: An earli­er ver­sion of this story misat­trib­uted a quote to Rep. Tim Huel­skamp. The quote was said by Rep. John Duncan.

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