It’s always been a fantasy of the political fringe, dating back to the formation of the John Birch Society and maybe even earlier, that the president of the United States be impeached for something or another. But this time around, the talk is becoming more mainstream and sounding less and less crazy.
On its face, impeachment seems far-fetched and borderline wacky; it is definitely off-message from where I think the GOP should be focused. Republicans need to concentrate on Obamacare and the economy, because that is what will drive votes in November 2014.
But the fire the president is stoking through his willful flaunting of the law can’t be denied. Perhaps the former constitutional law professor has overreached and decided that the Constitution is more flexible than he once thought. His misdeeds are increasingly being detailed by commentators, even those who are not marginalized conservatives. No less than Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) – who is particularly bright and well-regarded – has broached the issue and is raising the notion that impeachment is conceivable. This drew a sharp rebuke — rather than a laugh – from David Axelrod, suggesting that perhaps Senator Coburn hit a nerve.
The bothersome reality is that President Obama is inventing new laws, selectively choosing to enforce laws he likes and ignoring or amending the ones he doesn’t. Many writers, from George Will to Jeffrey Anderson to Charles Krauthammer have written about the president’s increasing lawlessness. What is the penalty for this? How is it supposed to be investigated? We are close to uncharted constitutional territory.
The president’s oath of office is vague at best, and even what the Constitution itself says about impeachment in Article II, Section IV isn’t particularly precise. But Obama’s actions, from his National Labor Relations Board appointments to his decision to waive welfare work requirements, not to mention to his treatment of the Obamacare law as a work in progress, leave no doubt that he has not “taken care that the laws be faithfully executed” as required in the Constitution.
The talk about impeachment just isn’t as crazy as it used to be. It’s a distraction politically, but it’s not meritless and it won’t go away.