Editorial: Talk of impeaching President Obama is ridiculous, but destructive

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 1:40 pm

The very premise is so ridiculous that even bringing it up gives it more credibility than it deserves. Still, talk of impeaching President Barack Obama is polluting our political conversation, so it has to be stamped out.

There is nothing remotely close to “high crimes and misdemeanors” that Obama has done that would warrant removal from office. His administration has been relatively scandal-free, despite the best efforts of Republicans led by Rep. Darrell Issa of California to find something, anything, that will stick.

The administration has stumbled – for instance, the bungled response to the terrorist attack last Sept. 11 on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, or the clumsy targeting of tea party groups and others by the Internal Revenue Service. But are these causes for impeachment? Hardly. Not even close.

Obama’s policies, obviously, aren’t supported by everyone. Yet there was a resounding affirmation in his re-election last November.

If those promoting impeachment – even accusing Obama of treason – were honest about it, they would just declare that they will never accept him as president, no matter what. Impeachment is yet another desperate tactic to try to discredit and weaken him, like the “birther” movement questioning his legitimacy by claiming – despite all proof to the contrary – that he was born in Kenya.

Some Republicans in Congress are fanning the impeachment flames to boost their own political prospects when they know there’s no case and there’s no chance of it happening. They should be ashamed. It should tell you something that GOP House Speaker John Boehner, who gives a long leash to his rank and file, has already ruled out any such effort.

It would be nice, in fact, to dismiss the impeachment talk entirely as the province of a few on the extremist fringe. But unchallenged, it could grow into a dangerous distraction when so many big problems and pressing issues face the country. Just to name a few, there’s potential military action in Syria, the reach of government surveillance, the still-fragile economic recovery and the implementation of health care reform.

Speaking of which, some have trotted out the argument that Obama exceeded his authority by delaying some key parts of the Affordable Care Act. Many of the same people vilify “Obamacare” and want it all repealed. Which is it? The least they can do is make up their minds.

Raising the specter of impeachment only serves to further divide the nation and poison the political atmosphere in Washington. It is damaging to our democracy for partisan opponents of this president – any president – to resort to a tool that ought to be reserved for the truly corrupt and unfit.

We have a tried-and-true way to resolve political differences. It’s called an election.

Read more articles by the Editorial Board

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