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Milbank: Republicans delirious with impeachment fever

History will record that on Tuesday, Dec. 3, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary met to consider the impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama. They didn't use that word, of course. Republican leaders frown on such labeling because it makes the House majority look, well, crazy.

It is, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said from the dais, "the word that we don't like to say in this committee, and I'm not about to utter here in this particular hearing."

One of the majority's witnesses, Georgetown law professor Nicholas Rosenkranz, encouraged the Republicans not to be so shy. "I don't think you should be hesitant to speak the word in this room," he said. "A check on executive lawlessness is impeachment."

This gave the Republican lawmakers courage. "I'm often asked this," said Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. "You got to go up there, and you just impeach him."

Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, who has said there are enough votes in the House to impeach Obama, added: "We've also talked about the I-word, impeachment, which again I don't think would get past the Senate in the current climate . . . Is there anything else we can do?"

Why, yes, there is, congressman: You can hold hearings that accomplish nothing but allow you to sound fierce for your most rabid constituents.

The Republicans in the House know there is no chance of throwing this president from office. Yet at least 13 of the 22 Republicans on the panel have threatened or hinted at impeachment of Obama, his appointees or his allies in Congress. They've proposed this as the remedy to just about every dispute or political disagreement, from Syria to Obamacare.

Tuesday's hearing was titled "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws." The unanimous view among Republicans was that Obama had not done his duty, and it's true that this president has stretched the bounds of executive authority almost as much as his predecessor, whose abuses bothered Republicans much less (and Democrats much more).

But what to do about it? They've failed at cutting off funding, they've had difficulty suing Obama in court, and they lost the 2012 election. That basically leaves them with the option of making loud but ineffectual noises about high crimes and misdemeanors.

In recent days, Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, one of the more exotic members of the Republican caucus, has distributed proposed Articles of Impeachment to his colleagues. Last month, 20 House Republicans filed Articles of Impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder. A month earlier, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota accused Obama of "impeachable offenses."


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