Mark your calendars: ‘National Impeach Obama Week’ is nigh


Anti-Obama protesters outside of an Obama fundraiser on May 8, at the La Jolla, Calif., home of Qualcomm Founder Irwin Jacobs. (Courtesy of Roger Ogden)

They don't make a Hallmark card for this -- as far as we know -- but for nine days starting Saturday, a small but persistent group of activists will flock to overpasses and street corners across the country for "National Impeach Obama Week."

The Coalition to Impeach Obama Now! organizers, coordinated by San Diego activist Roger Ogden, have no national endorsements from tea party groups or Republican politicians. Instead, impeachobamaweek.net has a small list of regional and local tea party, libertarian, and otherwise anti-Obama activist groups backing them.

Those groups are the hardest of the hard-core -- the activists who remain focused on pushing for impeachment proceedings against President Obama, even as like-minded groups move on to other issues.

For example, Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment, arguably one of the movement's most visible coalitions of activists in recent years, recently changed its name to "Overpasses for America" and shifted its focus to anti-immigration protests after a bout of "infighting" within the movement, Ogden said in an interview.

Without the publicity that comes from those crossover fringe-to-mainstream endorsements, turnout for next week's protests promises to be, in Ogden's words, "very light." A dozen or so protests across the country, each with a handful of participants, is the organizers' best-case scenario.

For now, that's just how he likes it:  "The national tea party won't touch this at all," Ogden explained, without a hint of bitterness. Neither will Republicans, he added. While a few Republican politicians still openly support impeachment proceedings, the House leadership and many conservative leaders have rejected the idea, especially after the Democratic Party picked up on the fringe impeachment movement as a useful fundraising tool.

And anyway, Ogden isn't interested in having a bunch of congressmen descend on the protests to "to use them for their political agenda" -- with one possible exception: “If Sarah Palin said she was gonna endorse us," he said, "I guess that would be hard for us to down.”

So with a low expected turnout and no national endorsements, why bother hosting an entire week of protests? That takes a little bit of explaining.

This hasn't been the best few months for protests aimed at removing the nation's current crop of leaders against their will. The organizers of Operation American Spring famously estimated a crowd of 10-30 million Americans for their anti-government rally in May. That event was supposed to force, by sheer force of numbers, the resignation of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Holder.

You may have noticed, but: it didn't happen. Turnout totaled in the hundreds at best, even after months of careful planning. Then there was the mid-shutdown plan to clog the DC Beltway with 10,000 truckers. The small group of truckers who did show up was stymied by actual Beltway traffic, of the typical, non-protest related variety. Similarly, Larry Klayman's November promise to "occupy Washington D.C" with "millions" of Americans fell several millions short of the turnout goal. 

Odgen believes he's learned from the mistakes of others, which is precisely why he's keeping expectations way down for National Impeach Obama Week.

"People think that just by hyperbole they can make it happen," he said of other, failed, protest-based movements to remove Obama from office. “If you exaggerate, people would be depressed afterwards.”

But don't make the mistake of thinking Ogden believes that the movement won't, result in the impeachment of the president. Citing a recent CNN poll that found two-thirds of Americans don't want the president removed from office, Ogden notes that a third of the country does, apparently, believe Congress should impeach Obama. "That's 100 million people," he said.

After August, the National Impeach Obama Week organizers will launch another round of protests in October. But Ogden and his co-organizers are still keeping cautious about their movement's rate of growth. "We have to crawl before we can walk," he said.

All the extra work, he hopes, will allow this latest attempt to remove Obama from office the chance to avoid the lows of its predecessors. "After this," he said, "I hope people won’t be depressed.”

Abby Ohlheiser is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.
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