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August 08, 2014 5:30 PM No, Dems Didn’t Invent the Impeachment Issue

By Ed Kilgore

Anyone inclined to buy the idea that Democrats cynically invented the “impeachment issue” in order to fire up their base and raise money should give a gander to this reminder from Tom Kludt of TPM:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said late last month that Republicans “have no future plans” to impeach President Obama, scoffing at what he described as a “scam started by Democrats at the White House” to gin up the base and raise money
.
But the idea — however quixotic — clearly annoys Boehner more than the voters he hopes will turn out en masse in November.
Polls conducted last month by CNN/ORC, Fox News and Rasmussen Reports all found close to 60 percent of Republicans in favor of impeaching and removing Obama from office.
Each poll found that wide majorities of the public at large — and virtually every other demographic group — oppose impeachment.

Lest you say “yeah, but there’s no way they could actually pull it off,” I’d offer two rejoinders: (1) this assumption (which many of us recall sharing back in 1998) might change if Republicans make really major Senate gains this November, and (2) the relevance of “the issue” isn’t just its practical likelihood; it reflects the pressure Republicans face from their own base to prioritize Obama-bashing over any actual constructive activity (not a new story, but an important one).

Moreover, while Boehner and a few other Republican leaders have clearly denounced discussion of impeachment, the far more common reaction—particularly on the campaign trail—is some variation on the Huckabee Straddle—a position of “not yet.” That’s enough to justify drawing attention to the sentiment, and if the configuration of power changes in November, of the threat it represents.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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