You might remember Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) from his starring role in our Impeachment Supercut last week, but the anti-immigrant calf fetishist went all Electric Boogaloo this weekend, once again threatening to impeach President Obama over the possibility of executive action on immigration. King once again coyly tried to avoid “the i-word,” but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked him, flat out, if impeachment would be on the table if the President took executive action.
Wallace: But you’re saying if he were to do that then impeachment would be on the table?
King: I think then we have to start, sit down and take a look at that. Where would we draw the line otherwise? If that’s not enough to bring that about, then I don’t know what would be.
To be clear, King saying Republicans need to “start” to look at impeachment is like urging Wile E. Coyote to maybe take a glance at the Acme catalog, but surely, this clip closes the case on John Boehner’s absurd assertion that Democrats are the ones concocting all of this impeachment talk, doesn’t it? I mean, of course the Democrats are taking advantage of the GOP’s nutso neo-nullification strategy, but surely, no rational adult could blame them for the strategy itself.
Well, not unless you include This Week host George Stephanopoulos in the category of rational adults, his possible troubles with high shelves notwithstanding. Over the weekend, senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, the man who cleverly conjured the entire impeachment narrative at the far-reaching media juggernaut that is the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, had to once again answer for his crimes. Faced with Pfeiffer’s “facts,” Stephanopoulos was wistfully resigned to more Democratic villainy:
Pfeiffer: I think what we — what I said was that it would be foolish to discount the possibility that this Republican Congress, at some point in time, would consider impeachment.
Stephanopoulos: But the speaker said it’s not going to happen. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee…
Stephanopoulos: — told me it’s not going to happen.
Pfeiffer: Right. And five days before the government shutdown, the speaker said there was no way we’d shut the government — government down over health care. And then we did.
And in the House of Representatives, John Boehner may have the gavel, but Ted Cruz has the power. And so I…
Stephanopoulos: You don’t really think impeachment is possible?
Pfeiffer: I — well, I — when the House takes an unprecedented step to sue the president of the United States, for inde — for — even though he is issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in 100 years, I think it would foolish to discount the possibility.
Stephanopoulos: So the talk is going to keep on going.
As frustrating as all of this is, there actually is a genuinely confusing truth that mainstream media types like Stephanopoulos and my pal, Chuck Todd, are completely missing. They are right to say that the White House and Democrats are loving the political advantage that Republicans are handing them with this impeachment talk, that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “freaking out” fundraising emails are slightly disingenuous. If they’re freaking out, it’s because they couldn’t get their doctor on the phone after four hours.
But the White House isn’t lying when they say that impeachment is an actual possibility. In fact, they’re downplaying it, because anyone who didn’t just wake up from a coma last week can see that it is a virtual certainty. While Boehner might have seen his lawsuit as a way to head off impeachment, many of his members saw it as a first step toward impeachment, and have said so. Pfeiffer, taking Josh Earnest’s lead, is dead-on in pointing to the government shutdown as instructive in this case, because it demonstrated that House Republicans do not care about taking the White House or the Senate, they care about keeping their seats.
John Boehner taking impeachment off the table is like me guaranteeing that Ted Nugent won’t shit his pants. Despite my best intentions, I have no control over that. President Obama will take executive action on immigration. Once the midterms are over, if they can wait that long, some combination of these peoplewill file articles of impeachment, and then it’s time for George and Chuck to ask themselves which House Republicans will vote against them. Boehner is barely surviving his decision to just sue the President. Will he be able, or inclined, to actively block a vote on impeachment once it’s introduced?
As for the obvious displeasure that my colleagues are showing for the relish with which Democrats await this spectacle, they need to gain a little perspective. Notwithstanding any other factors, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a political advantage that is not just being handed to you, but rained down on you like $50 bills in the Champagne Room. It is absurd to suggest otherwise. But this isn’t just about raw political point-scoring.
President Obama can’t possibly enjoy the bitter, unyielding, bad-faith opposition he has encountered these past five years and change. The satisfaction of a disastrous impeachment, then, would not derive just from the political gains to be had, but from the relief of finally having it all out on the table. Impeachment will be the culmination of a pact that Republicans made the night Obama was inaugurated, so seeing that pact finally undo them wouldn’t just feel good, it would be right.