Republicans have been trying to affix an asterisk in the history books next to the presidency of Barack Obama pretty much since the man moved into the White House on Jan. 20, 2009. You name the controversy, the [fill-in-the-blank]-gate that riles the far right, and you are bound to hear calls for the impeachment of the 44th president of the United States. The whole thing is as tiresome as it is destructive.
Benghazi has been a favorite of the impeachment set. Other controversies (or fauxtroversies, in most cases) that have elicited the “I” word, include the IRS, Obama’s possible invocation of the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling and an attempt to get Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary in 2010. There was also talk of impeachment over Syria. A year ago this month Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) threatened to draw up articles of impeachment if any troops sent to Syria by Obama were killed. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) upped the ante by September when he proclaimed that Obama would be impeached if he simply “put boots on the ground” there. And, of course, there are still birther dead-enders who feel the president should be impeached because they continue to believe his birth certificate is fake.
Given this history, then, it should have come as no surprise to anyone that impeachment talk was hauled out in the wake of the controversial prisoner swap that led to the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl nearly five years after his capture by the Taliban. Former Florida representative Allen West, who was among Republicans who called for impeachment over Benghazi, did the honors. He was particularly irked that Obama used a signing statement to justify ignoring the congressional-notification rule.
I mean, I wasn’t thrilled about the whole signing-statement thing. But seriously, impeachment? West’s suggestion is especially ridiculous since President George W. Bush used this form of legislative nevermind with great frequency.
Should there be hearings about how the Bergdahl swap happened? Yes. Should members of the administration appear at said hearings to answer tough questions about same? Yes. Do I have any hope they would not devolve into shameless grandstanding? Absolutely none. But that would be infinitely better than the spectacle of impeachment. While the president’s opponents would succeed in putting an asterisk next to Obama’s presidency, they’d also succeed in damaging the country.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj