For many on the far political right, it’s high time to charge President Barack Obama with high crimes and misdemeanors.
The “I-word” — impeachment — is creeping back into the political lexicon, nearly 16 years after the House of Representatives impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath.
From conservative media outlets to the campaign trail to book stores, chatter about impeaching Obama and members of his administration has heated up in recent weeks. It’s fueled by conservative anger over the president’s increasing use of executive actions on issues such as immigration and air pollution regulations, the exchange of Taliban detainees for the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal, and the familiar issue of the Affordable Care Act.
“I submit that Barack Hussein Obama’s unilateral negotiations with terrorists and the ensuing release of their key leadership without consult — mandated by law — with the U.S. Congress represents high crimes and misdemeanors, an impeachable offense,” former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., wrote on his website in June.
South Dakota’s Republican Party passed a resolution at its June convention calling for Obama’s impeachment for violating “his oath of office in numerous ways.”
The impeachment drumbeat from the right has gotten loud enough that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, flatly stated last month that his planned lawsuit against Obama for alleged overreach of his executive authority isn’t a prelude to impeaching the president, something establishment Republicans feel would be a wasted endeavor that could hurt the party at the polls.
“I don’t see the passion for it, quite honestly. It obscures the issues we want to talk about,” said former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. “I don’t think Speaker Boehner or (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell want to dance on that pin. People remember 1998.”
Republicans were expecting a midterm election boon that year, but instead, the party lost five seats in the House and failed to pick up seats in the Senate. It marked the first time since 1934 that a sitting president’s party gained seats in a midterm election. The failure led then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., to relinquish his gavel.