Political maneuvers can take strange forms. The White House apparently cooked up a strategy for tricking Republicans into demanding impeachment. The goal was to create sympathy for the President.
If you look at the numbers, the people using the word “impeachment” are invariably Democrats and liberals. Republicans have said that they are not interested in impeachment. (For one thing, Democrats control the Senate at this time.)
Nate Silver, the Dean of Stats, just ran a story pointing out that Democrats are far “more obsessed with impeachment than Republicans. The scoreboard so far in July: Fox News has 95 mentions of impeachment, and MSNBC 448.”
In other words, Team Obama decided that impeachment talk would goad Republicans into rash actions, and these would help the president. His base would rush to give money. His disenchanted supporters would rally again to his side. Obama-lovers would hate Republicans for this rude attack on their hero.
Only problem is, there is no such attack. Obama is pretending there is an attack. Apparently, the public was supposed to be too dumb to notice this little subtlety.
So it might well be that Obama’s strategy was the desperate calculation of a flailing presidency. Or miscalculation. If Obama had any good strategic options, would he be talking up impeachment?
For sure, two things have happened. People are getting used to hearing the word. A year ago “impeachment” was a word that few dared to say. But now rank-and-file Democrats can’t wait to throw the term around. You can forgive the ordinary citizen for thinking, hey, what did he do exactly? Surely that has to be a dangerous thing for a president.
A second unexpected thing happened. Republicans showed restraint and some cleverness. “House Speaker John Boehner…slammed Democrats [July 29] for saying House Republicans want to impeach President Obama, calling it ‘a scam started by Democrats at the White House.’ This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president's own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill.”
Meanwhile, some Republicans are trying to educate the public.
Saying America faces a perilous hour, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama urged his colleagues to "be counted" and "stand up" to Obama's "lawless actions, and sponsor legislation that will block him from granting amnesty to millions more illegal immigrants.”
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said that more Americans will favor impeachment once they realize what "impeachable offenses" really are.
So the staged drama rolls on. A progressive site reported [July 31]: “In yet another example of a Republican self-inflicted wound, the Washington Post yesterday reported that, due to the threat of impeachment from top conservatives, the Democrats are cashing in big time.” And over the weekend Gail Collins of the New York Times tried to put the White House spin on things: “Now, Republican leaders are desperately trying to change the subject.” Because their strategy failed, you see?
Yes, if enough Democrats say this, it must be true. Or did the Republicans outplay the President and this particular strategy is already dead?
“Obama pivots to economic legacy,” according to the Hill [July 31]. “President Obama is tying his legacy to a growing economy, seizing on the administration’s successes in boosting the nation during financial woes.”
And that on the day when the Dow Jones dropped more than 300 points. The president’s position is clearly precarious.
The problem for Obama is that he has always gotten a free pass from an irresponsible press, so that even after six years in the spotlight, the public still doesn’t know the man. For example, what percentage of Americans know that Barack Obama claimed on his literary website for years that he was born in Kenya? What percentage of Americans know that famous document examiners have concluded that Obama’s birth certificate is fake?
When they finally find out, they may be more judgmental than Obama would like. A few months ago Judge Jeanine Pirro editorialized aggressively, “Did Obama lie his way to White House and is his election null and void?” Prediction: the percentage of Americans who believe that will steadily increase.