Impeachment Talk is Silly, Irresponsible

Posted on August 22, 2013 by


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) stated publicly that President Obama is nearing the standard for impeachment, according to NBC News. Coburn made his comments at a town hall meeting, where he argued that Obama’s actions are “getting perilously close” to being impeachable offenses.

Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states:

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The impeachment process occurs in the U.S. House of Representatives, where the Republicans enjoy a slim majority, while the trial process occurs in the Senate. To remove a federal official, 2/3 of the Senate must vote for conviction. Democrats now enjoy a 54-45-1 advantage in the Senate.

It is this partisan context that makes Coburn’s comments silly. There is zero likelihood that Senate Democrats will vote to convict President Obama of anything in our current political reality. Chilling First Amendment? Benghazi? The IRS scandals? The NSA? Fast and Furious? Republicans may be steaming about those issues, but these scandals have not yet garnered enough attention or traction to threaten the President among Senate Democrats. Republican talk of impeachment, then, hardens divisions in the Senate and marginalizes the GOP with voters. No matter the actual seriousness of the scandals, neither Senate Democrats nor the voting public perceive them to be impeachable offenses. Politically, that is all that matters.

Sen. Coburn is not stupid, so he understands this. What this reveals, however, is that Senator Coburn is willing to assuage town hall attendees, and to assure them that he is listening and that their views are valid, so that his own career opportunities are enhanced. While he might be able to cement growing Republican majorities in Oklahoma, the GOP in Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, and Virginia suffers due to his rhetoric. In short, Coburn’s language does nothing but increase the probability that his own party will continue in its minority status.