It was brief, but it really happened. Fox News, and now ABC News contributor, Bill Kristol was actually right about something. As we've observed over the years, whatever Kristol says, the opposite must be true. Some of his greatest hits include:
--"Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now."
--1993 was the "high water mark" of the LGBT rights movement.
--After encouraging Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to invoke Bill Ayers in his campaign for president, Kristol chastised the campaign for doing exactly that, calling it "stupid" politics.
--"[The Iraq War] will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. [...] It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam's regime."
Kristol is also one of two or three conservative operatives who scouted and pitched Sarah Palin as a rising star in the GOP, urging McCain to select her as his running-mate in 2008.
However, on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, following a video clip of Palin in which she hamfistedly demanded Obama's impeachment, Kristol observed that no "responsible" elected official has called for the impeachment of President Obama.
No responsible elected official has called for impeachment. And the one problem with it of course is get Joe Biden as president.
Given the stopped-watch phenomenon, Kristol was destined to trip and fall onto a correct statement at some point. Yet the fact that his hand-picked candidate is one of the primary screechers calling for impeachment underscores how wrong he was about Palin. He was so wrong about her that -- sorry, Bill -- it cancels out his rightness on the irresponsibility of Republicans who are leaning on the jolly, candy-like impeachment button. Sure, Palin isn't currently an office-holder, but the fact that her views are perfectly in line with elected officials who are, indeed, irresponsible speaks volumes about her, not to mention one of her earliest benefactors: Bill Kristol.
Yes, Kristol was one of the architects of Palin's emergence in 2008, and now he considers her to be aligned with an irresponsible impeachment effort. Kristol, now seven years after visiting Alaska to meet with Palin, has all but admitted that his version of Seward's Folly was a huge mistake. Of course, just because he's indirectly admitted his wrongness shouldn't absolve his original sin in any way. A Palin vice presidency, especially knowing what we know now about her, would've been a complete and utter disaster for the United States, only made worse given how McCain's health was the only bulwark between her and the Resolute Desk.
The Obama-era Republican Party has too often engaged in tactics that inadvertently establish horrible precedents for governing, and impeachment is only the top of a long list of harrowingly kneejerk ideas.
--Filibuster Everything. The list includes a record number of filibusters, and not just against Obama agenda items, but against what otherwise should've been bipartisan bills like healthcare for 9/11 heroes, the American Jobs Act of 2011 and the Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act. There were a total of 246 filibusters during Obama's first term, compared with 137 for both of President Bush's terms.
--Frivolous Lawsuits. While some congressional Republicans aren't taking impeachment seriously, they're certainly getting behind the next best thing: frivolous lawsuits. As we've discussed before, the Constitution affords Congress many weapons against the Executive Branch, but lawsuits were never intended to be part of the game. Not only does this tactic set a terrible precedent for how Congress deals with an opposition president, but it also makes Congress appear feckless and impotent -- incapable of either negotiating with the president or using its constitutionally-provided checks against him.
One of the enduring aspects of U.S. government is its reliance upon extraconstitutional traditions -- specifically, in this case, the unwritten rules of civility. Sure, there was once a time when a senator was savagely beaten on the Senate floor by Rep. Preston Brooks (D-SC), but the caning of Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA) occurred during the lead-up to the American Civil War, nor was it a party-wide deed. The progressively radicalized behavior of the congressional GOP these days is almost entirely lockstep, and as soon as it metastasizes into the process, the system will begin to break down.
Whether it's a Republican congressman shouting, "You lie!" during a joint session address, or the speaker of the House pursuing a petty lawsuit against the Oval Office, Congress is allowing the fringe to wag the dog -- the spasmodic rage of AM talk radio hosts and the 140-character screeds of anonymous crackpots are being mainstreamed by leaders who ought to know better than to feed the trolls. This will surely blow back against the GOP when it's inevitably returned to minority status, but, in a broader sense, it'll choke the system by tearing down the last ruins of civility.
One last thought on impeachment. George W. Bush was by most standards a very bad, and some would argue, lawless president, but he was protected from impeachment due to three major factors: 1) he had a Republican Congress for all but his final two years, 2) the Democrats wisely decided not to repeat the GOP's lose/lose impeachment effort of 1998, and 3) if successful, Dick Cheney would've ascended to the Oval Office. While, sure, Cheney was the de facto president for many of the Bush years, elevating him to the actual post would've been far, far worse than Bush.
Sure, impeaching Bush would've made his most vocal opponents feel really damn good. But the long-term impact would've produced a terrible hangover. Likewise, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and the other impeachment supporters haven't really considered the consequences. But they should. In the final analysis, impeaching Obama would fail, and, like 1998, the Republicans would lose seats in the midterm, based solely on buffoonery published by Sarah Palin, who's nothing more than a national joke -- and who Bill Kristol is finally right about.