So, no 'thoughful' person is pushing it?

Why Shouldn't Democrats Fan the Impeachment Flames?

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker says talk of impeaching President Barack Obama is a Democratic ruse, and that he doesn't "know of any thoughtful person" who is actively calling for it.

Corker, who made these remarks at a breakfast with reporters in Washington this morning, might traipse over to the other side of the Capitol, where he'd find several dozen of his fellow Republicans who've raised the issue. Or he could call one of the standard-bearers of the national ticket he campaigned for in 2008 who's now out in front on the impeachment bandwagon: Sarah Palin.

Corker is right, Democrats are fanning the flames. It's a great rallying point for the party's voter and fundraising base. The Democrats' House Campaign Committee says that in a single day, in response to the supposed threat of impeachment and reality of a lawsuit against the president, it hauled in 50,000 contributions, 60 percent from women, totaling $1 million.

Veteran Republicans remember that the last time they went the impeachment route -- the House voted to impeach Bill Clinton in December of 1998 for lying about sex -- was an electoral disaster. The Democrats actually gained seats in the 1998 election, breaking an off-year election cycle that had lasted a century.

Thus Republicans such as Speaker John Boehner and Bob Corker dismiss the issue, and possibility, as frivolous.

The problem is these political wardens can't control some of the inmates. Palin earlier this monthcalled on Congress to impeach Obama for a variety of offenses, the top being failing to control the border with Mexico. "If after all this he's not impeachable," she argued, "then no one is."

Last week, Iowa Congressman Steve King, the leader of the party's anti-immigration bloc, said it was his "prediction" that if Obama institutes more executive actions on immigration, impeachment proceedings would commence "immediately."

Although serious scholars dismiss as silly any notion there are "high crimes or misdemeanors" -- the grounds for impeachment --there are no shortage of charges cited by right-wing Republicans.

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz cited the Benghazi controversy as possible grounds; Texas Representative Louie Gohmert has spoken of impeachment around the debt ceiling; Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst suggested that Obama'srecess appointments when Congress is out of town are an impeachable offense; on Sunday, the newly elected House Republican whip, Louisiana's Steve Scalise, pointedly refused to rule outimpeachment.

The Democrats' response: Bring it on and we'll take it all the way to the bank.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Albert R Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Toby Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net