Bereft of many good options ahead of the November midterms, Democrats have been eager to use the fringe impeachment chatter as a cudgel against Republicans. The gambit has not gone unnoticed on the right.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said late last month that Republicans “have no future plans” to impeach President Obama, scoffing at what he described as a “scam started by Democrats at the White House” to gin up the base and raise money.
But the idea — however quixotic — clearly annoys Boehner more than the voters he hopes will turn out en masse in November.
Polls conducted last month by CNN/ORC, Fox News and Rasmussen Reports all found close to 60 percent of Republicans in favor of impeaching and removing Obama from office.
Each poll found that wide majorities of the public at large — and virtually every other demographic group — oppose impeachment.
The lack of an appetite for impeachment outside of GOP circles explains why Boehner and various conservative media luminaries have been so dismissive of the idea.
When Fox News isn’t giving a platform to those who favor the course of action, its coverage of the issue has focused largely on its political incentives for Democrats.
Commentator Charles Krauthammer argued in both his syndicated column and on Fox this week that the White House is attempting to “bait” the GOP into pursuing impeachment with Obama’s planned executive action on immigration.
“Such a calculation — amnesty-by-fiat to deliberately court impeachment — is breathtakingly cynical. But clever. After all, there is no danger of impeachment succeeding,” Krauthammer wrote. “There will never be 67 votes in the Senate to convict. But talking it up is a political bonanza for Democrats, stirring up an otherwise listless and dispirited base. Last Monday alone the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more than $1 million from anti-impeachment direct mail.”
The gang on Fox’s “The Five” devoted the opening to Thursday’s program to addressing Krauthammer’s point.
“All it takes is one Republican to talk of impeachment,” co-host Andrea Tantaros said. “That’s all they really need. I mean, no one’s really talking about impeachment now and the Democrats are talking about it. It does seem like a trap. It does seem like they’re setting up Republicans.”
It should be noted that less than an hour before Tantaros made that declaration, Fox News analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on the network to make a case for impeachment.
Still, Tantaros wasn’t totally wrong — and neither were Boehner and Krauthammer.
Anyone who’s on a Democratic mailing list can identify the party’s playbook this summer and, according to an analysis by The Hill, Congressional Democrats have talked about Obama’s impeachment 20 times more than their GOP counterparts since last year.
But the dismissal from Republican elected officials and conservative journalists might give the impression that impeachment has virtually no support in the GOP, that the mere talk of it only galvanizes the Democratic base.