We don’t wish to be unkind to people who mostly share our sentiments, but those demanding to impeach Barack Obama need to brush up on how that works, and then brush up on the politics. The last time congressional Republicans tried impeachment, with an arguably stronger legal case, it turned the country against them and cost seats they couldn’t afford to lose.
Which is not to say the standard for removing a president should be the opposition party’s chances of escaping political cost. That would give us the banana republic governance Barack Obama seeks to practice: unbridled political muscle and stop-me-if-you-can.
But it emphatically is to say a party seeking to demonstrate that it’s led by grown-ups and serious about constitutional governance—a demonstration we think most Americans yearn for—will ask the country to support stressful and divisive actions only if they can be reasonably expected to succeed. Pronounced tendencies toward theatrics without prospect of ultimate success (e.g., government shutdowns or an impeachment trial presided over by Harry Reid,) are one respectable reason why many voters remain wary of the GOP. The sheer awfulness of the Obama alternative is the key reason fewer stay wary today.
To crystallize the political implications, consider who’s talking loudest about impeachment: Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, judging by the spam fundraising emails we see. They regard impeachment as a gift, rallying a demoralized leftist base. If loose-cannon Republicans hadn’t brought it up, they might have fabricated the threat themselves.
Impeachment is a non-starter if Democrats keep the Senate majority and unnecessary if Republicans capture it. Control of the Senate means the difference between Obama appointing one or more open socialists to the Supreme Court for life, and Obama appointing nobody.
Forget impeachment. Win some elections.