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How Impeachment Backfires, Redeeming the Martyred Obama

By       Message Robert S. Becker     Permalink
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To revive his disintegrating second term, Obama need not go Bulworth and shock everyone with the audacity of truth. Nor must he Wag the Dog: trump up a remote security menace, then pulverize some backwater to distract from scandal-mania. As the president stumbles, bumbles, and feeds the Clinton-Dubya-Obama culpability index, getting impeached would not be his worst nightmare, especially if it delivers redemption.

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Lurching again beyond satire, establishment media mavens join the right's shot at politically lynching the Illegitimate One, musing about channeling his "inner Nixon." Are cable pundits finally shocked, shocked to discover Obama violates legal rights and only manages his campaigns well, or that he's now saddled with an "evaporated" agenda thanks to dithering and insularity?

Yes, actual impeachment roils Washington, dishevels foreign alliances and shreds the stock market, but aren't realistic corrections overdo? At the helm still rides the drone-loving, Nobel Peace Prize warrior. Plus, what better than denunciation to energize disheartened Democrats before the 2014 mid-term dumps another Tea Party whammy?

Impeachable from Day One

On point, phony impeachment broadcasts an extremist, five-year mania to de-legitimatize an "interloper" with but two shiny, majority election wins. That sage, Mike Huckabee, doubts Obama will finish his term, and Sen. Inhofe floats impeachment over Benghazi, "People may be starting to use the I-word before too long." Michele Bachmann has no choice but channel her own angry, mystified constituents, "what in the world are you all waiting for in Congress? Why aren't you impeaching [this miscreant] making unconstitutional actions since he came into office.'" Why not, indeed?

When rank partisans fire off phony articles of impeachment, casualties won't be truth alone but the faux impeachers themselves, stung with their own malice. Impeachment accomplishes what forever escapes Obama's golden tongue: present bullying GOP misconduct as political terrorism, more injurious than a truckload of suicide bombers. For the 100 amenable centrist voters somewhere, if not the historic record, fabricated impeachment dramatizes the crusade to offset the American curse: the elevation of a wayward, ex-Chicago community organizer with the wrong parents, skin color, dubious cultural and political allies.  

Recall how 1998 articles of impeachment revitalized Bill Clinton, rewarding that shifty sex addict with a 73% approval rating. Besieged far and wide, Obama's legacy begs for an adrenalin shot. And what beats another trumped up impeachment against another Democratic president? House indictment raises the cynical GOP politics of obstruction to high menace, with systemic taunts about high crimes. Just what the right needs to incite: another rousing Obama spectacle that obscures White House management blunders. Rest assured, no ideologue will confront Obama's arguable "high crimes," namely illegal drone warfare, endless, no-trial imprisonments, and rights abuses, but the following benefits, nonetheless, will accrue:

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1) Crass Impeachments Lift Even Mediocre Incumbents. According to CNN, the '98 GOP-Gingrich House impeachment circus bloodied itself, not the presidency. In fact, Clinton's approval swiftly "jumped 10 points to 73%," an all-time high that buried Reagan's highest ever rating. Recently, ex-Speaker Gingrich conceded to NPR's Mara Liasson, "We overreached in '98," but not to worry: when opportune, guess who'll first grab a pitchfork and scream for Obama's scalp?    

Would not the drama of impeachment manage to decoy the mislaid Obama agenda, touting jobs and spurring growth? Because that core "evaporated," there's no there there, as Robert Reich explains, thus this president becomes "vulnerable to every pyromaniac on the Potomac." Indeed, a TV Senate trial would clarify, like the prospect of hanging, how motivated thugs can and will further decimate the electoral shreds that remain. Removal from office, when a political assassination, trumps two majority votes.

2) Impeachment Spawns a Third Obama Campaign. Great politicians are masters of imagery, deftly brushing their prestige and triumphs with greatness. Like Clinton, what Obama does best is campaign forcefully, especially under duress. So, would not formal indictment play to Obama's strengths, especially since Republicans have him well gridlocked and defensive about what isn't getting done (gun control, immigration, job stimulus) or gets done badly (Benghazi, the IRS, media intrusions)?    

Above all, this master campaigner knows how to capitalize on rightwing weakness, winning twice less by thrashing Republican nominees than 1) contrasting himself with the Bush debacle, and 2) framing opponents are nothing more than Bush redux. Had Republicans not imploded (Senate losers, Palin and Ryan, really?), Obama Democrats would forego even the delusion they're in charge.

3) Impeachment Confirms the Right Hates Hilary More Than It Fears Biden. If Benghazi (what else?) is centerpiece to the slugfest, then impeachment turns less on Obama's past than Hilary's future. And Senate conviction, a long shot without a '14 GOP takeover, puts Biden in the catbird seat, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a quasi-re-election run in '16. Overall, Biden brings less baggage, and more entertainment, than would the divisive, still problematic national campaigner, Ms. Clinton.

This misdirection scheme could stick it to Hilary's potential, as she may decline any V.P. slot and be too old by 2020. Does the right hate (or fear) Hilary so much they'd risk further self-immolation by riding the Benghazi house of cards? And if the right openly humiliates itself, would not subsequent fallout boost national Democrats, perhaps for a generation?

4) Impeachment Transforms Nasty Gridlock into Political Terrorism: Nothing confirms rightwing contempt for the American system, if not general welfare and prosperity, more than a botched fishing expedition. Michael Moore on Friday to Bill Maher, "they [Republicans] hate America." The right already faces demographic Armageddon as old white, reactionary dinosaurs die off, plus the wounds from pushing austerity and scoffing at jobs or social programs, even infrastructure health. Remember talk about Obama extending the Clinton promise, say on health care. Another failed impeachment helps seal that case: how much easier to prove Republicans "hate America" than Obama committed high crimes.

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Redemption by Martyrdom

Thus an impeachment fiasco would not just potentially re-start the errant Obama train, but ignite dormant Democratic doormats. Those without the fortitude to push a progressive vision will still plod ahead by default. How many Democrats already live to see another day thanks to breathtakingly benighted opponents? At the end of the day, does history scrutinize the quality of every play -- or celebrate final scores, championships won, and the shiny trophies winners take home?

No wonder even the RNC's dim bulb Reince Priebus warned his party against impeachment "until you have evidence." Only a forceful GOP coming across as "intelligent," he said, will prove "this administration is not transparent, is obsessed with power and hates dissent." Right, nothing like a phony impeachment circus to reinforce a party's invisible intelligence, detachment from hate, or independence from "obsessions with power." You can't make this stuff up.


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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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