Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pitchforks and Fundraising Pitches: How the Threat of Impeachment has Backfired on the GOP

by Nomad

After so much loose talk about impeaching President Obama, the GOP appears to be scoring own goals for Democratic campaign fundraising efforts.

In yet another example of a Republican self-inflicted wound, the Washington Post yesterday reported that, due to the threat of impeachment from top conservatives, the Democrats are cashing in big time.

Only Themselves to Blame
The Post article explained that the the Democrats' congressional campaign arm managed to rake in $2.1 million over the weekend, thanks, analysts say, largely because of the casual (and largely groundless) talk from House Republicans of impeaching President Obama.
Democrats have consistently used impeachment -- a prospect that has been floated by several prominent conservatives but has not been embraced by most of the Republican establishment -- to fill their campaign coffers and their polling has shown that fear of an impeachment attempt as well as the House GOP's current attempts to sue President Obama have the potential to drive midterm turnout on the left.
As the House Rules committee marched forward with a legal action against the president and his use of executive action, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has collected more than 114,000 donations since last Thursday.

If, fundraisers warn, the Democratic party loses control of both chambers of Congress, the next step will be impeachment.
Fear-mongering or a likely scenario? 
That depends on which side of the aisle you sit. Using the dread of a long and tiresome (and expensive) impeachment process- which could drag out for the remainder of Obama's presidency- appears to be a effective fundraising pitch for the Democrats.  
And the most humiliating part is that the successful pitch was laid in their laps by the Republican Tea Party rogues. 

Politics 101
DCCC chairman Steve Israel explained that by refusing to rule out the impeachment process, Republican leaders have aroused the ire of Democratic and independent voters across the country. 
"It's no surprise that there's outrage at this dramatic partisan overreach by an historically unpopular Republican Congress."
One of those more strident voices calling for impeachment has been the former half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
In a statement published by that near-spoof conservative website Breitbart, Palin said
“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment. The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored. If after all this he’s not impeachable, then no one is.”
The effect of Palin's remarks was shocking, but especially to the Republicans. According to the Post article, her initial call for Obama's impeachment in July netted the DCCC $500,000- in just 24 hours. 

Palin, as an accidental Democratic fundraiser, might have finally found a career she excels at.

Some establishment Republicans were rightfully leary of too much talk about impeachment. Senior Republican Adviser Dan Pfeiffer specifically directed his warning at Palin.
"Impeachment is a very serious thing that has been bandied about by the recent Republican vice presidential nominee and others in a very un-serious way. We take it very seriously and I don't think it would be a good thing."
It may be dawning on some in the GOP that Sarah Palin may be the best thing for Democrats. (Perhaps somebody finally looked up the definition of the word "rogue.")

True to form, after  shooting themselves in the foot, the Republicans are now trying to blame the Democrats for cashing in their lack of leadership. But then why shouldn't they make use of it? 
It's called politics. 

The Poisonous Palin Impeachment Parade
The Palin problem could have been handled a long time ago. Instead they allowed her incessant ranting to push the GOP into corner after corner. In a recent appearance in Denver at the Western Conservative Summit, Palin's behavior seemed especially bizarre, leading one liberal site to suggest she might well have been intoxicated or high. 

In fairness, Palin isn't entirely to blame. As  another source noted, there has been a veritable parade of Republican Congressmen who have banged the impeachment drum. These include:
Palin is hardly the first GOP politician to raise the issue of impeachment over the past couple years. Others include Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), former congressmen Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and Allen West (R-Fla.), and the South Dakota Republican Party.
While not all of them have been as direct as Palin,  every one on that list at one time or another has suggested that impeachment was an option. (And that's not a complete list.) 
Nearly everything Obama has done has kicked out a new round of impeachment murmurs from the right wing: his handling of Libya, to the embassy attack, Affordable Health Care, DREAM Act and even the appointment of “czars." 

Yet, the number of threats of impeachments from the Republicans has not made them in any way more valid. In fact, repeatedly calling for the president's impeachment has made the charges of illegality seem less valid and much more of an abused political tool.

The abuse of the impeachment provisions has been a subject we have examined before. (Here, here and here.)

Lost Leadership and Forgotten Lessons?
The Speaker of the House, John Boehner himself must also shoulder some responsibility for this fiasco with his petulant and pointless talk of suing the president.. for something. Had he had any leadership qualities whatsoever, he could have shut down all this impeachment nonsense years ago. Instead, he has added to it. 
Many Republican voters must be wondering whether there anybody at the wheel of this Krazy Kar. 

Senator John McCain, (whose astute political judgment brought Ms. Palin into the spotlight in the first place), attempted to play the role of the level-headed and seasoned politician. (Between fits of calling for war with the Soviets  Russians and the rest of the world.)

McCain said that he respectfully disagreed with Palin's demand for impeachment.
“I saw the impeachment scenario with former President Clinton and it was not a good thing to do. The American people didn’t like it. The American people wanted us to do their work and that was overall opinion at the time. It did not sit well with the American people.”
(As if the Republicans still gave a hoot about what Americans want.)
In a rare case, this is a time when McCain just happens to be correct.
History is  generally something the Republicans would rather manipulate and whitewash than learn from. And here is a prime of example of a history lesson lost.

President Clinton was one of the few presidents that left office with a higher approval rating than when he took office. After his impeachment proceedings in 1998 and 1999, Clinton's rating reached its highest point at 73% approval.

No wonder Obama is smiling.