Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2011

HOUSE REPUBLICAN RAISES SPECTER OF IMPEACHMENT.... Late last week, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who knows a little something about the practice, raised the prospect of presidential impeachment. The Republican, perhaps best known for leading the crusade against President Clinton, said he was so incensed over the Obama administration's policy on the Defense of Marriage Act, impeachment should be on the table.

Soon after, Gingrich's office quickly walked this back, saying "impeachment is clearly not an appropriate action" under these circumstances. How gracious of him.

As it turns out, though, some Republicans aren't letting go of the idea so easily.

[I]n the right's furor over the administration's announcement that it will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is calling for Obama to be impeached.

After the Arizona Republican advocated defunding the Department of Justice if it does not defend Section 3 of DOMA -- "I would support that in a moment," remarked Franks -- he went on to say that he would "absolutely" favor impeaching President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder if such a move "could gain collective support."

Specifically, Franks was asked, "I know Newt Gingrich has came out and said if they don't reverse course here, we ought to be talking about possibly impeaching either Attorney General Holder or even President Obama to try to get them to reverse course. Do you think that is something you would support?"

The Republican congressman replied, "If it could gain the collective support, absolutely."

Franks, by the way, was recently named the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's panel on the U.S. Constitution. Just thought I'd mention that.

In case anyone's concerned about the substance here, let's also emphasize that the Obama administration will still enforce the law. All the Justice Department said is that officials now consider DOMA unconstitutional and will no longer defend it in court. Previous administrations, from both parties, have done the same thing. It's hardly outrageous, and to consider it an impeachable offense is stark raving mad.

I'd also note for context that Trent Franks has an odd appreciation for the rule of law. He was entirely comfortable, for example, with the Bush administration ignoring federal laws when it suited the White House's purposes. Franks was also on board with Bush issuing signing statements, announcing his intention to pick and choose which parts of the law he'd honor.

But Obama's reluctance to defend a bad law against lawsuits is evidence of "high crimes"?

In a more sensible political environment, this would make Franks a laughingstock, and probably cost him his chairmanship of House Judiciary Committee's panel on the Constitution. In our political environment, it's just considered Thursday.

Steve Benen 9:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

So let me understand this. The Democratic Party controlled House let Bush and his fellow criminals walk away without even so much as an investigation, much less a call for impeachment, and Republicans are banging their desks, shouting for impeachment of Obama for non-prosecution of DOMA?

Yeah, pretty much what I figured back when Pelosi declined to impeach Bush and Cheney.

Democrats are suckers, which is why I finally changed my registration -- after almost 40 years -- from Democrat to unaffiliated.

Posted by: karen marie on March 3, 2011 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Well, they'd impeach Obama for eating a ham sandwich, but they know he's a Muslim and can't eat pork, so they have to find something even more absurd.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 3, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

As I mentioned when Gingrich made his comment, I suspect that if the GOP retains control of the House in 2012, and if Obama is re-elected (both big "ifs" in my opinion), impeachment will be the first order of business in the House, and they'll make it stick just like they did with Clinton. Not so the Senate, so Obama will remain in office. What we are seeing with Gingrich and now Franks is the groundwork being laid, getting impeachment into the general conversation well ahead of the elections. It is within reason to assume that one or all the GOP presidential hopefuls will actually run on an "Impeach Obama" platform. By election day 2012, we'll have impeach fever in the GOTP.

Posted by: T2 on March 3, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

what took them so long?

Posted by: just bill on March 3, 2011 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Well, they'd impeach Obama for eating a ham sandwich, but they know he's a Muslim and can't eat pork, so they have to find something even more absurd.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 3, 2011 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

That didn't take long.

Any guesses as to the over/under on the number of Republican calls for impeachment between now and Nov 2012? That's 20 months away, and Issa's subcommittee hasn't really got going yet, so I'd say - 45.

Posted by: Basilisc on March 3, 2011 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

In our political environment, it's just considered Thursday.

That's because everyone has grown accustomed to the fact that Republicans are dicks.

Posted by: David Bailey on March 3, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Fortunately, we have an enlightened, modern Republican party. Otherwise, they'd just be calling for Obama to be hanged from a tree.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 3, 2011 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

The Republics are truly the party of Nixon. They are still stinging over when he ran from office ahead of an impeachment threat (a threat made for good solid reasons). They've been trying to erase the shame ever since by evening up the score.

Posted by: HBY on March 3, 2011 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Fear and intimidation has not kept him in his place, so let the lynchings begin.

Brought to you by the new, kinder, gentler Republican Party.

Posted by: James at home on March 3, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Franks is nuts, yes, but I think his and Gingrich's outbursts are also born of frustration. You know the GOP would dearly love to impeach Obama over something (why, I don't know, given how badly it backfired with Clinton, but hate is irrational), but he hasn't given them one thing they can base it on. (You can almost hear them whining, "Have a sex scandal already!!!") So this frustration leads them to go nuts at something that might even hold (in their minds anyway) the slightest possibility of impeachement (like the supposed favors to Joe Sestak to drop out of the PA Senate race last year, which was nothing but typical political horse-trading).

Posted by: gf120581 on March 3, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

"to consider it an impeachable offense is stark raving mad."
Current Republican Modus Operandi No?
Trying to out crazy each other.

Posted by: John R on March 3, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Uh Mr. Franks...I think you might want to reconsider your choice of words here....."I know Newt Gingrich has came out......"

Posted by: dweb on March 3, 2011 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Wrong timing & wrong president...

my compliments to Neil Young (2006)

http://www.neilyoung.com/lwwtoday/lwwvideos/letsimpeach_wm.html

Posted by: SadSadOldVet on March 3, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

HBY 10:29 good point

I remember Henry Hyde saying the impeachment of Clinton was to get even for Nixon's misadventures, and possible punitive action by congress.

Posted by: Ted76 on March 3, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

I enthusiastically endorse the idea of the GOP trying to impeach Obama.

They are guaranteed to lose and look like total jack-sses while doing so, especially in an election year.

Posted by: JEA on March 3, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

As Chimpy Bush would say, "BRING IT ON !"


Posted by: Joe Friday on March 3, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Steve, *you* say it's Thursday. But some people say it is not.

Being a journalist, I cannot express an opinion on that.

Posted by: Ian A on March 3, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Amen. By all means. Bring it on.

Impeachment now.

Obama landslide and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in 2012.

Yet another stroke of brilliance from the folks who gave us Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell.

Posted by: Rasputin22 on March 3, 2011 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

"If it could gain the collective support, absolutely."

Spoken like a true leader with the courage of his convictions.

Posted by: doubtful on March 3, 2011 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

As the House Republicans made perfectly clear when they impeached Bill Clinton a decade ago, they don't consider "High Crimes and misdemeanors" an objective legal standard - it is political, and it means whatever Congress wants it to mean at a given time. Heck, didn't someone like Henry Hyde even SAY that publicly at the time, amid the catcalls and Bronx cheers from the public?

And then these great towering statesmen wept and gnashed their teeth when the voting public treated their political act exactly like the political act that it was. It was just SO UNFAIR!!

But you know something? As someone who saw the "IMPEACH CLINTON" bumper stickers spring up on cars in my Virginia neighborhood before Clinton's inauguration even took place, all those years ago, I find it eerie to watch this bootstrapping happening all over again. The GOP's base is caught up in its own feedback loop about socialism, birth certificates and death panels and unconstitutional czars, and they want blood. And they want Obama impeached because ... well, whatever, because that's the biggest and baddest and worstest thing that they can think of doing to Obama, since he is the enemy and must be destroyed.

And the GOP's leadership hears their base. They already knows the charge and the proceeding - they are just test-marketing the particular MEANS that they might use to get to impeachment with the public. And they are starting to get people used to the possibility. Again.

How's that jobs agenda coming, guys?

Posted by: Bokonon on March 3, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

To Gingrich and Franks, the real crime here isn't failure to defend DOMA.

Obama has committed the treasonable offense of PWB: Presidenting While Black.

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on March 3, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I just find it hilarious to see "Gingrich" and "Defense of Marriage" in the same sentence.

Posted by: Redshift on March 3, 2011 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

And they want Obama impeached because ... well, whatever, because that's the biggest and baddest and worstest thing that they can think of doing to Obama, since he is the enemy and must be destroyed.

The line attributed to "prosecutor" Ken Starr was "we know he's guilty of something, we just have to find out what."

The virulence is about Presidenting While Black, but the overall impulse is about Presidenting While Democratic. The conservative base is absolutely certain they're a majority, so if a Democrat is elected, it must mean that he's illegitimate and some kind of fraud.

Posted by: Redshift on March 3, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

here's some info i cribbed from nrp's nina totenberg: "While the administration's DOMA shift is unusual, it is not rare. It has happened more than a dozen times since 2004 and many more times in the past 60 years.....Eisenhower, Kennedy and Truman refused to defend separate-but-equal facilities in schools and hospitals....The Ford Justice Department , The Reagan administration, The Clinton administration, The George W. Bush administration and the George H.W. Bush administration all refused to defend certain laws, some of which were found to be constitutional.

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 3, 2011 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is hilarious considering Trent Franks is a closeted homosexual.

http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2010/02/dirty-half-dozen-6-worst-homophobes-in.html

Posted by: Larry Craig on March 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever happened to all the talk about it being treason to criticize a president in time of war? The wars haven't gone away. The president is still the commander in chief. So what's the story?

Posted by: jake on March 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I can think of no better way to ensure President Obama's re-election and massive Democratic majorities in both House and Senate in 2012 than should the Republican/Teabaggers attempt to AGAIN impeach a Democratic President for a non-crime.
Worked so well that last time...

Posted by: Doug on March 3, 2011 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. Franks is another embarrassment from Arizona Kookacracy. Let's hope it backfires.

Posted by: eclecticdog on March 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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