In the pantheon of dumbest ideas in modern American history, there was New Coke, Microsoft Bob, the 1987 Yugo GV, the vibrating ab belt and the Snuggie for dogs. But not one of those would rival President Barack Obama’s current dare to congressional Republicans to impeach him.
If Republicans take up the dare, it would cost them the Senate in 2014, the presidency in 2016 and relevance for perhaps a decade or more. And that includes if Obama takes out his pen and phone and signs an executive order legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants. Even if a Republican could get elected president in, say, 2020, Democrats then would be in position to impeach with political impunity 20 minutes after the inauguration ended.
This is bad governance, bad politics and bad strategy. It would be political suicide even to contemplate it seriously.
And it’s not being contemplated by serious people. But mere discussion of impeachment by fringe players, such as Sarah Palin and Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, has enabled Democrats to raise millions of dollars with desperate email appeals to “have Barack’s back.”
It’s not the fringe of the Democratic Party that talks about impeachment. It’s the marquee names — Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden — who push the I word. And it’s not hard to figure out why. Democrats face a turnout debacle in 2014. Their younger voters are less enthusiastic. The independents who twice made Obama president are not on board. Current polling gives Republicans a 14-point engagement advantage. And this time around, it’s been Democratic candidates — Bruce Braley, running for Senate in Iowa, for example — whose missteps have dominated campaign coverage.