To start with, I should point out that although I am Editor-in-Chief of this little blog, I am speaking only for myself here, and not for my colleagues, who are free to disagree with me if they wish.
With that said, I’m opposed to the GOP starting impeachment proceedings against Obama. My reasons are entirely pragmatic, and consist of two main points.
First, it’s impossible to get a conviction. Article 1 Section 3 of the US Constitution requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate to convict. With 100 Senators, that means the GOP must muster 67 aye votes (technically 66-2/3, but since Obama left the Senate I don’t think there’s anyone we can say is 2/3 of a Senator). Right now the GOP holds 45 seats in the Senate. Therefore, they’d need to pick up 22 seats to reach 67. Even the most optimistic predictions of the 2014 elections don’t hold out the possibility of that happening. To top it off, both Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard Selby (R-Alabama) voted to acquit Clinton of at least one of the charges against him, so there’s a high likelihood they’d vote to acquit Obama as well. That means the GOP needs 69 solid conservative Senators, and if you think they can do that in 2014, you’re probably smoking something that’s still illegal in most states.
The second point is that impeachment didn’t do much to hurt Bill Clinton. In fact, it actually helped him in the short term. If you look at Gallup’s tracking polls for the period, you’ll see that in the poll immediately before the House started impeachment proceedings on December 19, 1998 (meaning the poll of Dec. 15-16), he was at 63% approve, 33% disapprove. The Senate voted to acquit on February 12, 1999. The poll immediately after that vote (Feb. 19-21) shows him at 66% approve and 30% disapprove. He actually improved 3 points following impeachment! Not only that, the high point of Clinton’s whole presidency was the poll of December 19-20, right at the exact time the House opened proceedings, where he had 73% approval and only 25% disapproval. You may dismiss that as coincidence if you wish, but I believe in cause and effect, not coincidence.
People who follow politics will remember that the leftistmedia went into full circle-the-wagons mode when Clinton was impeached. However, anyone who thinks the leftistmedia is any less in the tank for Obama than they were for Clinton is not only wrong but — in the words of Mythbuster Adam Savage — wrong, wrong, wrongeddy wrong. The leftistmedia blitz to save Obama would make the coverage of Clinton during his impeachment look positively hostile by comparison.
Yesterday on National Review Online, Rich Lowry offers the suggestion that Obama actively wants to be impeached, though for slightly different reasons:
…if there is any serious move toward impeachment, it rallies the entirety of the Democratic base in a way we haven’t seen since 2008 and — assuming the politics of impeachment are bad for Republicans — drives the middle away from the GOP.
The Gallup poll numbers I cited above aren’t broken down by party, but it would seem that if Obama did energize the Democrat base and drive the mushy middle away from the Republicans, it would not only help his poll numbers, but probably help the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. So call that — along with the fact that Obama seems to want it — another good reason not to do it. If Obama thinks it’s good for him, no conservative should give it to him.