Like it, dislike it (as I do), but you can’t deny it, and to his credit, neither does Michael Tomasky:
I think the notion of impeachment is industrial-strength insane. There is utterly no proof that the President Obama even knew anything directly about the shifting Benghazi responses, let alone did something about them (yes, folks; under the Constitution, the President must do something). And as for the Internal Revenue Service story, from what we now know, those transgressions were committed by IRS staffers in Cincinnati who have never been closer to Obama than their television sets. … [T]he idea that Obama has any direct culpability in either of these matters is, given what we know today, utter madness. Okay?
But this is my point: utter madness is what today’s Republicans do. You can present to me every logical argument you desire. Benghazi at the end of the day was a terrible tragedy in which mistakes, bad mistakes, were certainly made, and in which confusion and the CYA reflex led to some bad information going out to the public initially, but none of this remotely rises to the level of high crime. The IRS cock-up was just that, a mistake by a regional office. I get all this, and I agree with you.
But what we think doesn’t matter. I can assure you that already in the Pavlovian swamps of the nutso right, the glands are swelling. Theirs is a different planet from the one you and I inhabit. …
At this point some of you may be protesting: but at least Clinton did commit a crime, however lame a crime it was. Obama has done no such thing. Again, in reality-land, no, he hasn’t. In their land, however, he has committed a string of them; he just hasn’t been caught yet. And that’s what Darrell Issa and his committee are there to unearth. Besides, he need commit no conventional crime. A high crime or misdemeanor is whatever the House majority decides it is. Remember, in January 1998, impeachment talk started before Clinton [allegedly] had perjured himself. …
Okay, but surely, you say, if facts don’t matter, then public opinion does? Think again, my friend. In 1998, support for impeachment of Bill Clinton was rarely above 30 percent. Here’s a little sampling of surveys from August and September of that year, during the heat of battle—the release of Clinton’s grand-jury testimony and of the Starr Report. Levels of support for impeachment were 26 percent, 25, 18, 27, 17, and so on. There was one poll where it hit 40 percent, but most were far lower. And remember, in political terms, 40 is the butt end of a massive landslide. The public hated the idea.
Did that stop anyone? No. And it won’t stop them now. They do their base’s bidding, not America’s. How many times do you need to see them do this before you accept that it is the reality? And now there’s an added element. They want to gin up turnout among their base for next year’s elections. And if they gin it up enough, and the Democratic base stays home, they could end up holding the House and taking the Senate. And if they have both houses, meaning that the vote in the House would not be certain to hit a Senate dead-end, well, look out.
I hope the White House knows this. I hope they understand, I hope the President himself understands, that the fever has not broken and will not break. … If my worst fears are never realized—well, good, obviously. But it will only be because they couldn’t identify even a flimsy pretext on which to proceed. Never put the most extreme behavior past them. It is who they are, and it is what they do.
It’s not just the White House that needs to understand this. It’s every American who thinks a majority of batshit-crazy Republicans in both houses of Congress would be a bad idea. Here’s why. A lot of Democrats and independents, butthurt over what was or was not in the Affordable Care Act or else just plain lazy, stayed home and didn’t vote in 2010. As a direct consequence of that little fit of temper and/or laziness, the lunatics are running the U.S. House asylum as well as turning my state of North Carolina into Mississippi with (for now) more teeth.
Look, never mind that Benghazi was a bad and tragic mistake and not a political/criminal conspiracy (except the part where it might have been a Republican conspiracy). And never mind that whatever a bunch of IRS functionaries in Cincinnati might have done, the IRS did much worse to liberal groups under Bush and the Republicans never said a word. These people are not rational. They’re not even sane. If they take the Senate next year, I’m even more confident than Tomasky that they will find some pretext, any pretext, on which to base multiple articles of impeachment. They will fling as much feces against the wall as they can, knowing that in a GOP-held Senate, at least some of it likely will stick. And the strong likelihood that either an incumbent President Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton running as the Democratic nominee in 2016 would drink their blood for it will not matter in the slightest.