The Impeachment Delusion

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WSJ, Editorial Board

You know it’s a bad idea when Sarah Palin and MSNBC agree.

palinOne unfortunate reality of modern politics is the right-left mutually reinforcing media echo chamber. The most extreme voices on either side broadcast the most outrageous statements of the other side as a way to define their opposition and attract attention to themselves. This is the way to understand the flurry of fever-swamp chatter about impeaching President Obama.

Sarah Palin joined the impeachment calls on Tuesday, which could mean that the former Alaska Governor has been feeling neglected. She is following the talk radio hosts and obscure authors who are trying to increase audience share or sell books by posing as Mr. Obama’s loudest opponents.

Mrs. Palin immediately received the media fillip she wanted, especially from MSNBC and the left-wing websites that want to portray the fading GOP star as a conservative leader. Progressives would like nothing better than for Republicans to try to impeach Mr. Obama, so they could scare up otherwise demoralized Democratic voters to come to the polls this November.

On Wednesday House Speaker John Boehner said “I disagree” with Mrs. Palin, though as usual without elaboration. What he might add is that the Constitution says a President can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Bill Clinton lied under oath and Richard Nixon obstructed justice. While Mr. Obama’s abuses of executive power are serious, they don’t rise to that level.

Impeachment is also inherently a political process that at the current moment would backfire on Republicans. Mr. Obama is unpopular, but that is due mainly to the failure of his policies. Focusing on impeachment lets Democrats off the hook on those progressive failures and plays into their claim that GOP opposition to Mr. Obama is personal. Then there is the answer to nobody’s question—President Biden? Impeachment fails to address any of the problems that Republicans are upset about.

If conservatives really want to address those problems, they should elect a Republican Senate majority. A GOP Senate could stop the President’s worst appointees, including judicial nominees. It could use budget reconciliation to pass policy reforms on ObamaCare, energy and other issues that the President would pay a political price for vetoing. And a GOP Senate could add its oversight power to dig into government abuses like the IRS political targeting.

Republicans aiming to rebuild a governing majority should be making a systematic case about the failures of Democratic governance that include slow growth and stagnant incomes, fewer health-care choices and higher costs, growing world disorder, and more. Trying to impeach Mr. Obama now is firing at the wrong target at the wrong time with the wrong ammunition.

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