By Bob Cesca: During the Clinton administration, and immediately following the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, the impeachment process began.
Not officially, and it wasn't until midway through Clinton's second term when the Republicans finally voted to impeach. In that four year span of time, the zealots who refused to allow Clinton to get away with a full four-to-eight years of his administration went from hints of fringy conspiracy theories to a full blown impeachment process including an infamous special prosecutor investigation to the vote to impeach in the House and, ultimately, to the nail-biting (but failed) vote to remove the president from office in the Senate.
All of that was in the shadows of a massive economic boom and rapidly shrinking deficit. When the ink was still warm on the House roll call to impeach, the deficit turned into a surplus and the the economy reached a high water mark unlikely to be matched again anytime soon. Still, they pursued Clinton with the unwavering tenacity of the T-1000 from Terminator 2.
Fast forward in time. In the last 24 hours, there have been hints and rumblings from the congressional Republicans that they're setting the table for a potential second term stab at impeachment again.
On Fox News the other day, Senate Minority Leader and Albino Sleestak Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the Senate, accused the president of a high crime -- literally a scandalous crime similar to Watergate, without the bungled break-in.
"What they're trying to do is intimidate donors to outside groups that are critical of the administration, McConnell said. "The campaign has rifled through donors' divorce records. They've got the IRS, the SEC and other agencies going after contributors trying to frighten people and intimidate them out of exercising their rights to participate in the American political discourse."
That's a serious accusation from someone who's been doing some nosing around (sleestak don't have noses, but you know what I mean). The details are very specific and the consequences of such an allegation would, with Watergate as a precursor, naturally reach into the Oval Office. It goes without saying that McConnell floated a trial balloon to the radical FNC audience of anti-Obama nutbags. It's not surprising, really, coming from the leader who famously said his primary goal was making President Obama a one-term president and, we can assume, if a second term happens, he might have a back-up plan for removal.
That's not the worst part. McConnell first revealed these accusations five days ago... to Breitbart.com, which published in an exclusive chat with McConnell:
“This is a dangerous, radical administration,” said McConnell.
“I’m going to lay out a long litany of abuses pursued by the Obama Administration and its allies against its political opponents,” McConnell said. “It’s reminiscent of the Nixon administration. It’s much more pervasive than Clinton. They have their enemies list. They’re checking it twice. They’re going to go after those that have been naughty and not nice.”
The stupid Santa Claus reference notwithstanding, that's a really big deal. McConnell went on to detail his accusations during a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.
Meanwhile, John Boehner, the most powerful Republican in all of Congress, accused the president of a massive cover-up in the "Fast and Furious" ATF operation. Here's an official statement from Boehner's office:
Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding ‘Fast and Furious’ were confined to the Department of Justice. The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed. The Administration has always insisted that wasn’t the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?
Yet another very serious warning that the president is in the figurative line of fire.
Elsewhere, Mitt Romney appears to be making the nothingburger Solyndra "scandal" a central issue in the campaign.
All of this, I believe, will lead to another impeachment proceeding.
And why not? Even though it turned into an embarrassment for them the last time they tried it (most Americans were disgusted with the process and punished the GOP in the 1998 midterms), precedent is oddly irrelevant for the "elephant" party. After all, they've been leaning on the Red Scare button for the last four years in spite of Joe McCarthy's legendary flame-out and subsequent legacy as one of the most evil and hated politicians in American history. The Republicans love a good encore, even if the audience hurls tomatoes at their heads. They will do anything to punish a perceived enemy.
It won't matter that the president has tried to compromise with them and include members of their party in his administration. They don't care. All they need is to hold their House majority and win a few more Senate seats and, if the president is re-elected, these will be the scandals they will use to fuel their effort to embarrassment, punish and remove Barack Obama from office.
Bill Clinton was, with all of his faults, a very centrist southern white man. Now imagine what they're going to try to do to an African American president in sketchy economic times.