The impeachment debate is another example of fringe conservative ideology hurting the establishment's election chances. House Speaker John Boehner knows that, which is why he said Tuesday that impeachment is a "scam" created by Democrats to motivate their base to vote and donate ahead of the midterm elections, according to the Associated Press. That's half true. Democrats are fundraising off impeachment, but this conversation was started by Sarah Palin and her fans.
Democrats are capitalizing off the idea that House Republicans will try to impeach the president, and even fundraising off comments made by White House officials — last week senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said they take the impeachment threat "very seriously," and soon after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent this email:
Now Democrats aren't even pegging their fundraising appeals on Republican threats to impeach Obama. pic.twitter.com/V1wstT2neY— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) July 27, 2014
Between last Thursday, when the House Rules Committee voted to move forward with the lawsuit against President Obama, and Sunday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $2.1 million, making that the best four day period of the election cycle, according to The Washington Post. That was fueled by impeachment talk — the group sent nine emails mentioning it.
Byron York at the right-leaning Washington Examiner noted that while there was talk of impeaching President Bush when Democrats won the House in 2006, then Speaker Nancy Pelosi said impeachment was off the table. "But Boehner has not made a far-reaching, definitive statement comparable to declaring impeachment 'off the table,'" he added. (House Whip Steve Scalise also declined to say impeachment if off the table.)
That's because impeachment is popular among conservatives. It's so popular that Boehner had to explicitly state that his lawsuit "is not about impeachment ... This is about his faithfully executing the laws of our country," as he said last month. A few days later Sarah Palin (who Republicans once chose as their nominee for Vice President of the United States of America) was the first major Republican to directly call for President Obama's impeachment earlier this month. All the DCCC emails in the world can't change that fact.
And a recent CNN poll found that 57 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of conservatives support impeachment. The problem is, while the GOP's base supports impeachment, the general public — aka moderate and independent voters —doesn't. As Aaron Blake at The Washington Post argued, that leaves Republicans with three options: oppose impeachment and have your seat challenged by a Tea Partier; support impeachment, though it won't pass, and prove that the GOP is run by its radical wing; or just dodge the question. But now there's a fourth option: blame Democrats for a conservative thought experiment that got out of hand.