Nearly two years into President Obama’s second term, a do-nothing Republican Congress is focusing on its next project: the 2014 midterm elections. But that effort might be complicated by increasing pressure from the party’s base to turn Congress’ energy to impeaching President Obama. The impeachment call, which has existed on the right-wing fringe since the start of Obama’s presidency, has picked up steam in recent weeks as it has been endorsed by right-wing media figures, activists and elected officials.
This has put Republican congressional leaders in a tricky spot as they attempt to placate their base without alienating moderate voters. When House Majority Whip Steve Scalise appeared on Fox News Sunday this week, he continually dodged the question. Ted Cruz similarly batted away a question about impeachment, calling it politically unfeasible. Right-wing leaders including Pat Buchanan and Tom DeLay have urged caution in the impeachment campaign, although DeLay said he would personally “love to impeach him.” Likewise, Karl Rove has warned that when it comes to impeachment, “the politics of it are all wrong.”
Even Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, who last year distributed to every office on Capitol Hill a book on why the president should be impeached and removed from office and hired an attorney to look into impeachment, is now backtracking and warning that impeachment proceedings could benefit Democrats in the midterm elections.
Now, House Speaker John Boehner is claiming that talk of impeachment is a Democratic “scam” to win voters…an odd claim since it’s members of his own party who have been beating the drum about impeachment.
But it might be too late for Republicans to backtrack on a steady buildup of rhetoric questioning the president’s legitimacy, love of country, and authority to govern, which has led to increasing calls for impeachment from right-wing lawmakers, activists and media personalities… although nobody can quite agree on what the impeachment should be for.
- In a radio interview last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that she believed the president has “committed impeachable offenses” but that first “the American people have to agree with and be behind and call for the president’s impeachment.”
- This month, Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said that there are “probably” the votes in the House to impeach the president for “absolutely ignoring the Constitution, and ignoring the laws, and ignoring the checks and balances.”
- In March, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California hinted at impeachment proceedings in response to illegal immigration.
- Last year, Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas toyed with the idea of impeaching the president over “the whole birth certificate issue.”
- Also last year, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan said that impeaching the president would be “a dream come true.”
- Rep. Steve King has promised impeachment proceedings if President Obama issues an executive order granting work permits to undocumented immigrants.
- Sarah Palin has repeatedly called for impeachment in recent weeks.
- Glenn Beck has repeatedly called for the president’s impeachment for the IRS scandal, an imaginary plot to give weapons to Al Qaeda in Syria and for a supposed cover-up of the role of a Saudi national in the Boston Marathon bombings. “You need to file the articles of impeachment. He needs to have the stain on his record that they cannot remove,” he said.
- The prominent right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel launched a campaign in February to call on the House to start the process of impeaching the president before he succeeds in “remaking the United States of America into a godless, socialist nation.” The group launched a similar campaign in 2011. Although Liberty Counsel officials have cited President Obama’s executive order on LGBT nondiscrimination, the Benghazi attack, marriage equality as possible reasons for impeachment, ultimately the group’s chairman Mat Staver said an impeachable offense can be “whatever Congress says it is at any given time.”
- Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano has floated the idea of impeachment for at least a year.
- In 2012, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon called for the president’s impeachment because he “intentionally misled the American people” about the attacks in Benghazi. This year, he declared that the GOP would have impeached President Obama even if he had been a Republican because the “Christian element” in the party would never tolerate “lawlessness and lying.”
- The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer demanded President Obama’s impeachment for his handling of the court case challenging the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.
- Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt has called for Obama’s impeachment for his backing of “pagan” gun safety laws and before he takes “total control.”
- WorldNetDaily managing editor David Kupelian wants Republicans to impeach Obama and remove him from office if they take control of the Senate: “We need to remove this guy or to stop what he’s doing as soon as possible. The next opportunity is in November and we’ll see what the Republicans and the Christians and the conservatives can do then.” The site’s editor in chief, Joseph Farah, has also repeatedly called for impeachment proceedings.
- Former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo called for Obama’s impeachment earlier this year, claiming that the president has become “addicted to dictatorial behavior.”
- Tea Party Nation urged its members to sign a petition calling on Congress to “impeach and arrest the tyrant king Obama!”
- Alan Keyes who lost the 2004 Illinois Senate race to Obama, advocated for impeachment over the Fort Hood shooting, Obama’s “dictatorial intentions,” and something to do with “gay lovers.” He has alsocalled on Michele Bachmann and Jesus Christ to help in the impeachment endeavor “before it’s too late.”
- In 2012, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera called for Obama’s impeachment for trying to “pander to his homosexual activist base.”