Bill Haber/AP/File
Sarah Palin speaking in New Orleans, La., May 29, 2014.

Palin pushes Obama impeachment. What's up with that?

Palin cites border security as her main reason to impeach Obama, and she is not the first to call for such a move. But the votes aren't there, and the maneuver could hurt the GOP.

Sarah Palin is getting a lot of attention on social media Tuesday for advocating the impeachment of President Obama in an exclusive opinion piece for

Her main point appears to be that Mr. Obama has failed to secure the border, and even conspired to purposely allow immigrants to illegally enter the US. There is also some stuff in there about the federal debt and too-generous welfare programs.

“It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment,” the former VP candidate writes.

Look, this is a highly charged subject. Millions of Americans are distressed about what they feel is a country that is going in the wrong direction, away from government based on a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Many of them cry “impeach” as a last means of trying to get the attention of a US political elite they feel is indifferent to their concerns. And this has been going on for years.

An “Impeach Obama” billboard appeared in Wisconsin in 2010. In July 2010 former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) of Colorado wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times calling for Obama’s impeachment. More recently, the South Dakota Republican Party at its convention passed a resolution calling for Obama’s impeachment because he has “violated his oath of office in numerous ways.”

But here is our opinion: Impeachment is not going to happen, and political celebrities who push it are more likely to damage the Republican Party than Obama himself. (Many impeachment proponents complain about what they perceive to be weak GOP leadership as well.)

First, the votes aren’t there. We’ll draw upon a lengthy analysis of this in the Washington Post’s Fix blog by the redoubtable Aaron Blake. Given the current balance of power, and assuming all Democrats are opposed, for impeachment to pass no more than two Republicans could vote against it in committee, and no more than 16 in the full House.

Remember, establishment Republicans and House leaders appear to believe that impeachment is a highly risky political move. That’s their takeaway from the unpleasantness with President Clinton.

Two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to remove the president from office. Do you think that will happen, even if the GOP gains six seats or so and retakes the chamber in 2014? Very little chance.

Second, impeachment talk is politically good for Democrats. Why? It riles up an otherwise-dispirited base. One of the best ways for the Republicans to lose their chance to retake the Senate this fall would be an impeachment effort that drives up turnout among minority and low-income voters, who don’t vote in midterms in large numbers.

“It is in the Obama forces’ best interest to pretend that the Republicans might really try to impeach the president,” wrote right-leaning blogger Ed Rogers in June.

Third, it’s unlikely that potential Republican presidential candidates would look favorably on an impeachment effort. That’s because they might be able to envision the tables being turned.

If impeachment becomes a more normal way of dealing with frustrations over a president’s essentially political acts, then every president risks facing an attempt at removal from office. If it becomes a more normal Washington power play, than the government of the US will be even more gridlocked and dysfunctional than it now is.

“Presidents can’t just ignore impeachment, and presidential attention is limited – which means that energy devoted to fighting even a totally spurious impeachment effort deprives other responsibilities, including national security, of presidential attention,” writes political scientist Jonathan Bernstein on his Bloomberg View blog.

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