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A Case for Impeachment? Not Even Close

"May you be cursed to live in interesting times," says the fake Chinese proverb. But this is getting ridiculous -- and embarrassing, if you're a conservative.

Liberals made idiots of themselves during the Bush years believing that every revelation that "proved" "Bush lied, people died" would rid the country of the smirking Texan by way of impeachment. The American people, in their righteous anger, would rise up and smite the illegitimate cowboy (and his sidekick, Darth Cheney), bringing down his regime -- with the help of Democrats who only wanted what was best for the country. Of course, they never mentioned that with Bush and Cheney out of the way, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would become president. Little details like that always got lost in the shuffle.

Recall the snark on conservative websites this idiocy elicited at the time. The right had a gay old time rattling liberals' cages, making helpful suggestions as to which Marx brother might lead the effort to convict Bush and Cheney in the Senate, and other sound pieces of advice. A good time was had by all in portraying the left to be unhinged, out of touch, and out of their minds.

But now, the bottom rail is on top and it is the right embarrassing itself by pushing for the impeachment of President Obama. It's hard to keep track of how many scandals have seen Republicans and conservatives calling for Obama's head. The granddaddy of them all is, of course, the birther issue and all its attendant trappings of conspiracy and intrigue. Then there was the "Fast and Furious" gun-walking scandal, in which people were actually murdered by guns sold to Mexican drug gangs by hapless ATF agents. This was overseen by incompetents in the Justice Department. Incompetence, stupidity, arrogance -- but an impeachable offense?

There's much, much more. In an effort to be helpful, here is a website that has listed 100 potential articles of impeachment against the president. Some might think that 100 articles of impeachment is a stretch. Others may believe it's a pretty good start. But perusing this list is like getting in a wayback machine and reading what the left was saying about President Bush at the time. It's the same sort of madness and hysteria that afflicted liberals who could never quite separate their partisan desires from doing what was good for the country.

Now comes the attacks by terrorists on our diplomats in Benghazi on September 11 of last year and the panicked, incompetent, and ultimately dishonest response by the State Department, the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the White House. Coming as it did in the midst of a close campaign for the presidency, the political overtones in that response resonate to this day. And several prominent Republicans and conservatives see in that response a reason to overturn the election of November 6, 2012 -- to toss the votes of 63 million Americans into the gutter.

It isn't just fringe players on the right who are serious about impeaching the president. Mike Huckabee said on his radio show recently:

"When a president lies to the American people and is part of a cover-up, he cannot continue to govern," Huckabee said on his radio show Monday.

"As the facts come out, I think we’re going to see something startling. And before it’s over, I don’t think this president will finish his term unless somehow they can delay it in Congress past the next 3½ years."

Washington Times columnist and Boston radio host Jeffrey Kuhner believes the president should be impeached for allowing the Boston Marathon bombing:

The Boston massacre was a defining moment. It exposed Mr. Obama’s narcissistic and reckless approach to combating terror. There can be no illusions any longer — we are in a clash of civilizations between radical Islam and the West. Mr. Obama has denied this painful reality long enough. By burying his head in the ideological sands, he has made Americans pay a terrible price. It’s time he is held responsible for his gross negligence. It’s time that he be impeached. Justice demands no less.

WorldNetDaily has been running a petition since February demanding the impeachment of the president. Twitter's #impeachment tag appears very popular with about a tweet a minute. That doesn't include references to impeachment in tweets using #Benghazi or #bigtimescandal, which top the trending topics.

Former CEO of PJ Media Roger Simon got on the impeachment bandwagon long ago:

While we are making Watergate analogies, it’s worth noting this is far worse than that noxious moment in American history or the other recent impeachment episode — Clinton. In the former, some dumb zealots broke into the campaign headquarters of the opposition party in an election that wasn’t remotely close. Nevertheless, the paranoid Nixon destroyed himself by trying to cover up the idiocy. Clinton wagged his finger at us and lied about sex under oath, while his wife — an important figure in Benghazi where she has already been caught dissimulating — similarly lied by publicly blaming her husband’s philandering on the “great right-wing conspiracy.” (What power!)

Creepy behavior all around and certainly nothing remotely presidential, but, compared to Benghazi, no one died or was even injured. As far as I know, no one even stubbed a toe.

Benghazi, on the contrary, was an important battle in the Global War on Terror, which has now reached our shores more than once. It will undoubtedly do so again. Those who take this casually in the slightest are conscious or unconscious traitors or fools — or so self-interested as to be beneath contempt.

John McCain also believes that Benghazi is worse than Watergate, so Mr. Simon doesn't stray far from the mainstream by making that charge.

What puzzles many is that in all this passionate rhetoric, there seems to be some words missing. Huckabee never mentions them. Simon didn't include them. And in all those 100 proposed articles of impeachment against the president, the words never appear.

How can you impeach a president without mentioning "high crimes and misdemeanors"?

That's the constitutional standard, and for people who purport to love our founding document, there is precious little said about a serious case to be made that the lies, the incompetence, the political calculation, the whitewashing, and even the stonewalling and denial of documents add up to a reason to overturn the election and make Joe Biden president.

Michael Hirsh writes in National Journal:

All this will no doubt come back to haunt Hillary Clinton should she decide to run for president; in some cases, she appeared to have been too removed from the events in Benghazi. Hicks at one point testified that that he personally spoke to Clinton at 2 a.m. on the night of the attacks, which makes the administration’s vague description in subsequent days even more suspicious.

But that hardly adds up to a cover-up. In the end, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the committee, may find himself digging yet another dry well, as he has done so many times. Even before he took over the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with zero evidence in hand, Issa called Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” In his relentless search for evidence (and headlines) since, he has found nothing to back up that statement, including his highly publicized and largely fruitless hearings last June into the the Justice Department’s botched “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program.

Benghazi was a tragedy. It will, almost certainly, remain a political issue. What it is not – by a long shot -- is a scandal yet.

That last point by Hirsh may be more wishful thinking than cogent analysis. What the administration's actions and omissions regarding Benghazi isn't, by a long shot, is criminal or impeachable -- yet. A scandal it surely is, especially after the testimony this week from three highly credible witnesses seriously contradicted the story about the attack and its aftermath coming from the White House. Even the House GOP report on Benghazi issued last month contains the germ of scandal regarding the way that the unclassified talking points were altered.

But an impeachable offense never makes an appearance in the report, nor did any of the compelling testimony this week come close to attaching direct blame for any of the transgressions mentioned -- none of them impeachable -- to the president. You can't impeach a president for being a naive fool or an incompetent boob. You can't impeach a president because he chose aides, assistants, or cabinet secretaries who can't, or won't, do their jobs. You can't impeach a president for looking into a camera and lying to the American people. You can't impeach a president because he tries to hide an error that would cost him votes in an election. Nor can you impeach a president for playing politics with national security, failing to rescue Americans under attack, or going to sleep in the middle of a crisis.

It is embarrassing for so many on the right to talk about the "unraveling" of the Benghazi narrative being the "end of Obama's presidency." The fact is, even if the press went into a feeding frenzy over this story, fulfilling the dreams of Obama's most strident opponents and spreading the details of the scandal far and wide, it is doubtful that the public would be outraged enough to demand the impeachment of the president. Obama's approval rating is still in the low 40s and, given his base of support, it is unlikely to drop into the mid 20s -- a number that eventually convinced Richard Nixon, with the help of GOP leaders who believed if  the president stuck it out through a Senate trial it would destroy the party, to resign.

The last two presidents have had to deal with the issue of impeachment from rabid partisans who care little about constitutional standards and less about the good of the country. Both left and right have made fools of themselves the last decade by treating the extraordinarily serious issue of impeachment as just another political tool, employing it as the ultimate attack -- the WMD of political combat.

It is not edifying for the right to emulate the absolute worst tactics of their opponents. Yes, hold Obama and his administration accountable by getting to the truth of what happened in Benghazi. But unless real evidence surfaces that ties the president directly to an impeachable offense, it would behoove all of us to abandon the idea of creating a serious national crisis that would ultimately tear the country apart at a time when we have to deal with so many critical problems.