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The politics of lying about impeachment


Surfing through informational blogs yesterday, I ran across a blaring headline: “President Obama Impeached!” “Impeachment Resolution Filed Against Obama for Illegal War in Libya.”

Intrigued, since I hadn’t heard anything about this, I read the article, written by an Eric Blair, and several more suggested. As usual from the “we have to take our country back” sect, the headline was not followed up by a solid story. It started off saying, “Impeachment proceedings begin in the House and the Senate over Obama’s brazen use of aggressive military force without congressional authority.”

Secondly, it said, “Obama will face impeachment over his failure to seek congressional authorization before launching offensive military action in Libya last year. Official impeachment proceedings have now been filed in both the House and the Senate.”

Blair then complained that the media was ignoring this explosive story, and claimed that President Obama would become only the third sitting president to face impeachment, behind Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

There is certainly a case to be made for the Libyan adventure being a major foreign policy mistake by the Obama administration, but this article, and similar ones following its lead, is bombastic foolishness, with all due respect to the writer.

First, House Concurrent Resolution 107, filed on March 7, 2012, by North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, did not charge President Obama with an article of impeachment. The resolution said that if the president committed troops to Syria or Iran or other theaters without congressional authority, such a decision should constitute an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.

The resolution was neither aimed at prior presidential decisions nor written to re-look at them. It’s goal is trying to force the president to act within the strictures of the U.S. War Powers Act.

Second, even if Congressman Jones had filed an article of impeachment against the president, he would have needed a critical mass of other congressional sponsors to support him. As of the writing of this article, not more than three other members had expressed enough interest to sign on.

Once an article of impeachment is presented in the House (and all such legislation must begin in the House, the Senate has nothing to do with it at this point), it must go from a subcommittee to the House Judiciary Committee. The latter has to agendize, investigate and vote out the article of impeachment before there can be a full vote of the House of Representatives.

Dennis Kucinich, former congressman from Ohio (he just lost a reapportioned district race, but may resurface in Washington State), and 80 other House members sought articles of impeachment against former President George W. Bush for a violation of the War Powers Act and other  allegations, and even with a mostly Democrat-controlled House, never could get any traction and a full vote of the House. That one had substantial backing. Anything Jones decides to put forth has virtually none.

Third, even the remotest possibility of this Tea Party-tinged H.R. voting by majority to impeach President Obama, it has absolutely no chance of being tried in the Senate, which would be the next step. The Repubs simply do not have the numbers in the Senate. Yes, a simple majority vote of the House would impeach the president, but to convict and remove him, the Senate would have to have a two-thirds vote. There is no possibility of that whatever.

So, besides the blatant misinformation spread by Blair’s article (and yes, it was mentioned on Fox News, too), what’s the point? Is it to embarrass the president as Congress did to former President Clinton? Is it to distract the president from bringing the American economy gently back to solvency? Or is it to provide camouflage for the steady stream of political mishaps the Repubs have lately gotten into, including the flap over Ms. Fluke, the Texas abortion law requiring a “vaginal inspection” before any abortions are performed, and Repubs holding hearings regarding women’s contraceptive healthcare without allowing any women to participate.

This just may be the first volley of the direct, factless smear campaign that will be conducted against President Obama’s re-election efforts. With enough money, some people seemingly believe, you can convince enough people that fat meat isn’t greasy and Mona Lisa was really a man. And if they don’t believe you, they will at least be temporarily confused and possibly chilled into inaction.

Like the little task of accumulating enough voting identification obstacles in several states that will nullify some Black, poor and minority participation, it’s not whether the president gets impeached or not that is the issue; it is how much noise and clamor it all makes to encourage people not to be bothered to vote.