Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sarah Palin is right...and wrong

I'll say this: Sarah Palin knows how to whip people into a frenzy. It's virtually effortless for her at this point.

Consider: just yesterday, Governor Palin mentioned, in passing, that she could provide balance to the so-far-left-it-could-tip-over-at-any-time ABC discussion program The View. Within minutes, the internet exploded. (What, didn't you see it?) Twitter was awash in people aghast at the possibility that ABC might let her near the program. (Twitchy has a little sampling of the reactions here.) Do I think she really expects any sort of consideration for The View? Good grief, she hardly gets consideration from a lot of the folks at Fox now, so why expect better treatment anywhere else?

No, I don't think she expects to be joining The View anytime soon. (Or ever, honestly, though I will say I was surprised that a reliably liberal program like The View let Dana Loesch on, so I may not have the most insight into ABC's thought processes.) No, I think Sarah Palin said what she said because she knows how to play the media. And she does it very well. She knows that a statement like this will cause howls of outrage from the usual suspects, and she makes that type of statement anyway.

And why? Simple: by continuing to live rent-free in so many haters' heads (haters, I might add, from both major political parties), and also by continuing to inspire many people (including many, but certainly not all, Tea Partiers), she can virtually guarantee herself mega-exposure when she zings President Obama.

And did she ever zing him today.

In case you missed today's internet explosion (or perhaps one of today's explosions), Governor Palin posted a little piece on Breitbart.com with the not-at-all-attention-grabbing headline "EXCLUSIVE—SARAH PALIN: 'IT'S TIME TO IMPEACH' PRESIDENT OBAMA" this morning.*

The main paragraph follows:

President Obama’s rewarding of lawlessness, including his own, is the foundational problem here. It’s not going to get better, and in fact irreparable harm can be done in this lame-duck term as he continues to make up his own laws as he goes along, and, mark my words, will next meddle in the U.S. Court System with appointments that will forever change the basic interpretation of our Constitution’s role in protecting our rights. 

Of course, Governor Palin is right: President Obama and his administration are mired in scandal after scandal. Laws have absolutely been broken, subpoenas ignored, enemies harassed, etc. President Nixon resigned for less than this, and he was within days of being impeached himself when he bailed. Impeachment for President Obama would be an appropriate response to the behavior of this administration, to be sure.

There's only one problem: it's not time to impeach President Obama. And for the foreseeable future, it will never be.

There are, as one might expect, several reasons why this is the case, but let's start with the obvious one:

The Witch Hunt theory. Let's face it: any impeachment attempt will immediately be equated to the gotcha mindset during the late 1990s that did a brilliant job of derailing the Contract With America. It became more important to "get" Bill Clinton than to get anything worthwhile done. And what came of it? President Clinton got a slap on the wrist, the Republicans got eaten alive in the media, and, as everyone knew would happen going in, the Senate couldn't even get a simple majority to vote for removal from office, let alone the two-thirds required. It didn't matter that President Clinton deserved impeachment; the way the whole affair was presented was that the Republicans just hated the president. How much worse to you think impeachment will appear to people when we have the first black president, particularly given that our side is already routinely accused of racism?

And, of course, we have the other big reason that impeachment is not going to happen:

The GOP is a party of squishes. For years, the higher-ups in Congress have shown unswerving loyalty to...getting reelected. When a sitting Republican senator can be accused, believably, of stoking fear in order to get a bunch of African-American Democrats to cross over and vote against a primary opponent, you have to wonder how much a lot of these Republicans care about the principals for which they claim to stand.

And, let's face it: a bunch of scaredy-cats who care more for their political futures than anything else are not going to take any sort of chance of alienating voters, particularly just months before the mid-terms.

Finally, let's not forget this old favorite:

A non-trivial number of people idolize President Obama. This rather feeds into the previous two reasons, but as I have asserted (and partially walked back), President Obama benefits from a fairly substantial cult of personality,** in a way that neither Nixon or Clinton did while facing their potential or actual impeachments. Want to earn someone's enmity for life? Trying to destroy that person's idol is a pretty good start in a lot of cases.

And all of that adds up to the fact that it would ridiculous to even think that impeachment has a chance in this political environment. And that, unfortunately, means that even calling for it amounts to little more than tilting at windmills.

Now, with all that said, I will say again that Sarah Palin is a master at playing the media. It may be that this is a very calculated attempt to fire up voters to try to flip the Senate and pad our advantage in the House, since we know (and, honestly, she knows) that nothing is going to come of this call for impeachment, at least as far as Congress is concerned. I hope this is her way of rallying the troops, deep down; if it isn't, then Sarah Palin is absolutely wrong on this one.

* Warning:  as I have found out the hard way, Breitbart articles have the occasional tendency to disappear after a couple of years...or sooner.

** I have also said previously that Sarah Palin benefits similarly, though certainly not to the same extent. I'm too tired to look up where I said it, but take my word for it.