Thanks to Tommy Christopher for this terrific compilation of moments where Republicans have been using impeachment as a cudgel to block every single thing Democrats try to get done.
On October 8, 2009 Floyd Brown -- former chairman of Citizens United -- did a radio interview with Alan Colmes. At the time Brown was promoting his impeachment website, barely nine months after President Obama's first inaugural. I had a little conversation with the two of them. Here's Brown's reply to my pointed question about why he would dare bring up the word "impeach" when this president was elected by an overwhelming majority.
With condescending patience, he explained that impeachment is a political, not legal action. He justifies his position by interpreting the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” as “bad behavior”. He further defends his allegation of “bad behavior” by claiming that President Obama has badmouthed the US in foreign countries, and acts in a way that “we don’t approve of”.
You can listen to the audio of his interview over at ThinkProgress.
It is a political, not a legal action, you see. Each and every time you hear the Republicans in Tommy's video compilation use that word, remember that they use it as a political weapon, not a legal one. They know they haven't got a legal leg to stand on, Boehner lawsuit notwithstanding.
In 2009, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to most Republicans, who I believed at the time would never countenance impeachment talk as a regular occurrence.
I was wrong. Here is a timeline, beginning in 2009 of impeachment mentions. In the interest of brevity, I do not include every single call for impeachment over Benghazi, the IRS and the difficult launch of Healthcare.gov. Instead, I chose the most prominent speakers at any given time.
March 10, 2009 - Michael Savage calls for impeachment over Obama's revocation of George W. Bush's stem cell research ban.
October 8, 2009 - Floyd Brown makes an appearance on Alan Colmes' show to announce and promote his website calling for impeachment.
November, 2009 - Andrew Breitbart says he wants an impeachment and he wants it now!
March, 2010 - Washington Times' Jeffrey Kuhner calls for Obama's impeachment if the Senate uses reconciliation to pass the Affordable Care Act.
May-June 2010 - Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Doocy, Darrell Issa, and Dick Morris predicts impeachment hearings on Fox News over the Joe Sestak job offer if he chose not to run for Senator in the 2010 midterms.
June 24, 2010 - Judge Andrew Napolitano calls for Obama's impeachment on the Alex Jones Show, predicting that Obama is "planning to commit treason."
July 13, 2010 - Frank Gaffney calls for Obama's impeachment over a conversation with then-Senator John Kyl that never happened.
September, 2010 - Floyd Brown renews his impeachment calls at the Taking Back America conference.
February 1, 2011 - Tammy Bruce says Obama should be impeached over Egypt's unrest, claiming that Obama was probably the guy who stirred up the masses against Mubarak.
March 22, 2011 - Right-wing blogger Ace of Spades calls for Obama's impeachment over Libya.
March 24, 2011 - Washington Times' Kuhner calls for impeachment over Libya.
March 29, 2011 - WND's Joseph Farah calls for impeachment, also over Libya.
July 30, 2011 - In the midst of the debt ceiling debacle, Mark Levin calls for Obama's impeachment if he chose to use the 14th amendment remedy to raise the debt ceiling on his own.
August 9, 2011 - Rep. Michael Burgess says yes, "we need to impeach President Obama" at a town hall meeting.
August 17, 2011 - 2012 Presidential hopeful Herman Cain thinks impeachment would be just grand.
August 19, 2011 - Fox News promotes impeachment over immigration policies.
August 22, 2011 - Mark Steyn, filling in for Rush Limbaugh, also calls for impeachment over Obama's immigration policy.
October, 2011 - Pam Geller calls for impeachment over gunwalking.
January 29, 2012 - Grover Norquist calls for impeachment if Obama doesn't extend the Bush tax cuts.
September 12, 2012 - Mike Huckabee calls for impeachment over Benghazi!
October 1, 2012 - More Benghazi! Marsha Blackburn.
October 28, 2012 - John McCain joins the Benghazi! impeachment chorus
November 6, 2012 - Todd Starnes calls for impeachment just after the election is called for Obama.
November 7, 2012 - Following Obama's re-election, right-wing media loses their collective minds, calls for war, impeachment, and revolution, not necessarily in that order.
November 16, 2012 - Conservative Action Fund robocalls donors, raises funds by calling for Obama's impeachment.
January 15, 2013 - Rep. Steve Stockman calls for impeachment over executive orders on gun safety.
February 26, 2013 - Andrew Napolitano calls for impeachment over implementation of sequester cuts.
March 7, 2013 - Andrew Napolitano again, this time because of released immigrants due to sequester cuts.
April 27, 2013 - Jeffrey Kuhner is back, calling for impeachment over the Boston Marathon bombings.
May 12, 2013 - George Will joins the impeachment chorus over IRS "scandal."
May 20, 2013 - Rush Limbaugh says Obama should be impeached but race will prevent it.
August 12, 2013 - Rep. Blake Farenthold agrees with birther constituent that impeachment 'probably has enough votes.'
August 21, 2013 - Michigan Rep. Kerry Bentivolio dreams of impeaching Obama, if he could just find evidence to do it.
August 22, 2013 - Tom Coburn joins the chorus, says incompetence is an impeachable offense.
October 16, 2013 - Louie Gohmert jumps in just after the government shutdown when the House was holding the debt ceiling hostage. Says allowing default is an impeachable offense.
December 2, 2013 - Fox News recommends impeachment because Healthcare.gov didn't work properly when launched.
January 14, 2014 - Megyn Kelly advises Mitch McConnell to quit fighting Obama in court and just impeach him.
February 16, 2014 - Alan Keyes says Michele Bachmann should lead impeachment effort against the president.
February 18, 2014 - Fox News runs a special on the "lawless president" which features Fox News Contributor Dennis Kucinich calling for impeachment.
April 22, 2014 - On Hannity's radio show, David Horowitz says Obama should be impeached but says race will keep it from happening.
April 30, 2014 - Ralph Nader calls for Obama's impeachment over Benghazi!
May 11, 2014 - Steve Kornacki's compilation of Benghazi! impeachment calls from a plethora of conservatives.
June 3, 2014 - Andrew Napolitano calls for impeachment over Bowe Bergdahl exchange.
June 9, 2014 - Fox News' Judge Jeanine Pirro rants for impeachment for Bergdahl swap.
June 21, 2014 - South Dakota GOP platform includes resolution to impeach Obama.
June 24, 2014 - Rush Limbaugh calls for impeachment over IRS non-scandal.
June 27, 2014 - Charles Krauthammer mourns the fact that a Republican president would have been impeached if they had done what Obama did.
July 8, 2014 - Sarah Palin joins the impeachment chorus.
July 15, 2014 - Dick Cheney agrees that Obama could be impeached, but says it wouldn't do much.
July 23, 2014 - Stephen Steinlight, head of right-wing think tank Center for Immigration Studies, says impeachment is too good for Obama. He should be "hung, drawn and quartered" instead.
July 24, 2014 - Bill O'Reilly is 'just asking' whether Obama should be impeached, so he asked Fox News to poll the question.
July 27, 2014 - House Majority Whip Steve Scalise leaves impeachment on the table.
August 3, 2014 - Juan Williams calls out Heritage CEO Jim Demint for ginning up "all-white" impeachment supporters. Meanwhile, Rep. Steve King begs Obama not to "make [Republicans] impeach him.
Steve King's plea is a little like an abusive husband telling his spouse not to make him beat her, but that is representative of the extremists in charge of the Republican party right now.
There is a pattern illustrated in all of these calls for impeachment, and it all goes back to Floyd Brown's explanation. Impeachment to Republicans is political, not legal. If you don't like something your ideological opponent does, shout "Impeach!"
Notice how the mentions of impeachment ramp up as midterm or general elections come into focus? That's not by accident.
After the 2010 midterms, Ed Schultz asked John Boehner whether he would take impeachment off the table. He received no response, but I think we all know the answer to that by now.
Will they actually do it? Jonathan Chait predicted this back in 2010:
Hear me now and believe me later: If Republicans win and maintain control of the House of Representatives, they are going to impeach President Obama. They won't do it right away. And they won't succeed in removing Obama. (You need 67 Senate votes.) But if Obama wins a second term, the House will vote to impeach him before he leaves office.
Wait, you say. What will they impeach him over? You can always find something.
That was before the 2010 midterms. So when I see headlines suggesting that Democrats' enthusiasm is low, or they're just not going to vote in November, I imagine Chait's prediction coming to pass and think we would have no one to blame but ourselves.
The scam comes from the right. Whether they actually carry it out is entirely up to us.
[Video h/t Addicting Info and BlueGal]