GOP Ready To Impeach Obama, Clinton, Carter, Ghosts of LBJ, FDR
Three weeks ago, the thug who once squatted in the White House incited a violent mob that invaded the Capitol. Members of Congress fled for their lives, and five people died, including a Capitol Police officer. Almost 140 officers were wounded, many with severe, permanent injuries: Two officers have smashed spinal discs and another will lose his eye. Two officers who responded to the attack have now died by suicide in its aftermath.
The Senate has no excuse not to convict the one-term, two-time impeachment loser. That's not stopping Republicans, who specialize in the inexcusable. They're OK with some low-key, under-the-radar arrests and prosecutions of the MAGA mob, but they won't dare hold accountable the man whose unhinged lies sparked the attack.
Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz, a walking black hole from which shame can never escape, argued that if the insurrectionist-in-chief is impeached and convicted for something he did within this lunar cycle, there's no telling where it'll end. Next, we'll probably keelhaul Jimmy Carter, whose presidency ended 40 years ago. No, seriously.
This was the best Cruz could do when he showed up this week on Sean Hannity's wacky puppet show. He whined that Democrats “hate" the 45th president.
"They hate Donald Trump," Cruz said. "For anybody who hadn't been paying attention, they made it very very clear."
It's true. We loathe the previous White House occupant, but way back in 2016, we weren't alone. Here's Cruz himself dragging the guy.
Cruz was apparently able to bond with a man he described as a “pathological liar" and a “narcissist," who smeared his father and insulted his wife. That's his business, but I don't think our seething contempt is unreasonable, especially after January 6.
Cruz compared the re-peachment to the movie Groundhog Day “where apparently every January we're going to be doing another impeachment." Bill Murray's character breaks the Groundhog Day cycle after untold years during which he slowly becomes a better person. Cruz's pitch would have us impeaching the former president until the heat death of the universe.
This is when Cruz brought up past Democratic presidents, who apparently were spared rightwing persecution.
"So I guess next year, I don't know, maybe it'll be the impeachment of Jimmy Carter or the impeachment of Bill Clinton or the impeachment of Barack Obama because that's what we do in Januaries."
Conservative victim mentality metastasized during the past administration, so they'll never understand that the previous president was impeached twice because he kept committing crimes. There were so many! He probably could've been impeached once a month. He definitely should've been impeached (again) last year when it was revealed that he'd knowingly lied about the severity of COVID-19, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans.
Republicans still complain about Carter “giving away" the Panama Canal, but that wasn't an impeachable offense. Neither was Willie Nelson smuggling weed into the White House. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a blowjob, and even if we learned of more Oval Office blowjobs, Clinton left office 20 years — not seven days — ago. He also served two full terms, as did Barack Obama. There is no risk of either running for president again.
Cruz isn't alone on Fantasy Impeachment Island. His fellow GOP senator from Texas, John Cornyn, also has a copy of the same bad script.
CORNYN: No evidence impeachment of a former President, now a private citizen, was ever contemplated by founders, and they didn't explicitly provide for it. Also, can't imagine them embracing an open ended procedure to pursue political opponents. Would current case allow Republicans to try former President Obama if they had the votes? Bad idea, extra constitutional, and divisive when unifying the country should be our goal.
Cornyn claims there's no evidence the noble Founders, while riding their slaves to work, “ever contemplated" impeachment of a former president. This is a lie. There's not only evidence supporting impeaching a former elected official, there's also precedent.
Republicans claim pursuing impeachment in this specific incident would lead to an “open-ended" pursuit of political opponents. This is farcical. The House impeached a sitting president, while he was still in office, and with all due speed. (House Republicans even complained about a rushed process.) It was the Republican-controlled Senate that delayed the trial until after the previous occupant's term had expired.
Conversely, Republicans had their bite at the apple for whatever impeachable offenses they think past Democratic presidents committed. Republicans controlled the House for six years when Obama was in office. There was a lot of talk about impeaching the illegitimate Kenyan socialist.
Former GOP Senator Tom Coburn, who considered Obama a “personal friend," nonetheless believed his BFF's administration was a lawless, incompetent shitshow and was "getting perilously close" to impeachability. This was in 2013, and Cruz, the new kid on the Senate block, didn't dismiss impeaching Obama on the merits but admitted “that's not a fight we have a prospect of winning."
Maybe Republicans are pissed they failed to put an asterisk next to Obama's name, like they did Clinton, but there are no backsies on impeachment. Cornyn imagines future Republicans impeaching Obama “if they had the votes," but they'd also need an actual crime.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."