This post has been updated.
"It's all a scam started by the Democrats at the White House," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) insisted Tuesday when asked about impeaching President Obama. "Why? Because they are trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's election." The latter part of that is true: Over the weekend, Democrats say they raised $2.1 million largely using the specter of an attempted impeachment.
But Boehner's other point, that impeachment talk was a "scam" started by the White House, is not true. The current round of discussion about impeachment kicked into high gear when mentioned by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin in a Breitbart editorial earlier this month (which has since been parlayed into a video at her newly launched Web site). But while talk about impeaching Obama has largely occurred on the outskirts of the political conversation, it hasn't only occurred there -- and it didn't just start recently.
2009: The Early Birds
March: Radio host Michael Savage suggests that the time has come -- less than 50 days after Obama took office -- for the president to be impeached.
- Why? Obama used executive orders to, among other things, allow the use of embryonic stem cells in science and medicine.
October: Former Republican strategist Floyd Brown, who helped create the anti-Michael Dukakis "Willie Horton" ad, suggests that Obama be impeached.
- Why? "Impeachment is no more or less than the recall of an elected official who isn’t up to the job," he wrote at WorldNet Daily. (Worth noting: A fifth of Americans agree with this standard, even if the Constitution doesn't.)
2010: The Fringe
May, November: Conservative author Joseph Farah writes multiple times about impeaching Obama.
- Why? In one instance, it's because of an offer from the White House made to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to leave the state's U.S. Senate primary. In another, it's because of "the biggest and most egregious abuse of power in American history."
2011: The Fringe Expands
March: Conservative author Larry Klayman on WorldNet Daily.
- Why? "Subverting the constitution."
June: Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) posts six reasons Obama should be impeached on his Web site.
- Why? Breaking his oath to the Constitution, Obamacare, and a few other things.
August: Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) tells constituents that impeachment "needs to happen."
- Why? "Damage" to the country.
October 4. Rep. Michele Bachmann tells a supporter that she agreed with his assertion that Obama be impeached to "get him out of the way."
- Why? Nothing specific.
2012: The Great Romney Hope
It appears pundits took the year off, what with the prospect of the November election looming. Also, Obama was re-elected. So...
2013: Mainstream Conservatives Feel It Out
February: On Fox News, network legal analyst Andrew Napolitano argues that what Obama has done is "almost an impeachable offense."
- Why? Obama made the budgetary cuts demanded under the sequestration passed by Congress in a way Napolitano thought was intended to scare Americans and make Republicans look bad.
May: On his radio program, Glenn Beck suggests that it is "time to appoint a special counsel to explore impeachment of this president."
- Why? Benghazi and the IRS scandal.
August: Rep. Kerry Bentvolio (R-Mich.) tells his constituents that impeaching Obama "would be a dream come true."
- Why? It's not clear.
October 13: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) indicates that a debt default would be "an impeachable offense" by the president.
2014: The Push Is On
At some point: Alan Keyes -- defeated in the 2004 Illinois Senate race by Barack Obama -- unveiled PledgeToImpeach.com, a Web site collecting signatures (and, naturally, donations) in support of impeaching the president.
- Why? For dismantling "our constitutional republic, our national security, our electoral system, our economic strength, our rights and liberties."
January: Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst says that Obama should "face those repercussions, and whether that's removal from office, whether that's impeachment..."
- Why? For recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
May: Fox News' Judge Jeanine Pirro, speaking directly into the camera, says that Obama's dereliction of duty demands his impeachment.
- Why? Benghazi.
May: Author Andrew McCarthy releases a book that "makes the legal case to dump the president," in the words of the conservative Washington Examiner.
- Why? IRS and Obamacare.
June: Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) makes the case for impeachment.
- Why? The release of Bowe Bergdahl.
June: Napolitano is back, with a new rationale.
- Why? Bergdahl.
June: House candidate (and now Rep.-elect) Barry Loudermilk (Ga.) says at a forum that Obama deserves impeachment.
- Why? Not clear.
July 8: Finally, Sarah Palin weighs in.
- Why? The border crisis.
July 9. Boehner wasted no time in saying flatly, "I disagree." But that didn't quell rumors...
July 25. ... thanks in part to Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer saying that Republicans had "opened the door for impeachment" with Boehner's intended lawsuit.
July 27. The current fever was fueled in part by Rep. Steve Scalise's (R-La.) non-answer to the impeachment question on "Fox News Sunday" this past weekend. Scalise's decision not to answer Chris Wallace's question ("Will you consider impeaching the president?") led to headlines like "House GOP leader leaves presidential impeachment on the table."
Which brings us to:
July 29. Boehner is clearly eager to put the impeachment rumors to bed, and it's easy to see why, given the amount Democrats are raising for November. But it's also easy to see why people might be skeptical. Last August, CNN reported on Boehner's efforts to derail a roiling insurrection from his far-right flank: the push to shut down the government over Obamacare. The situation is different in many ways, but that, too, was once a pipe dream among the conservative commentators.
There was at least one Democrat (well, actually a Larouch-ite) pushing for an impeachment of the president: Texas U.S. Senate candidate Kesha Rogers, who made something of a name for herself arguing for the action. She came in second in the primary.