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The Impeachment of President Obama — Act I

Yesterday, I had a feeling. Today, after watching a couple of the morning talk shows, that feeling has hardened into a suspicion with the strength of prediction: the Republicans are going to impeach Obama, probably no later than next spring.

Fox News has been bandying the word “scandal” about for awhile, but it really escalated over the last few days with the revelations about some IRS employees targeting Tea Party groups for extra screening when applying for tax-exempt status.  Then, today on ABC’s This Week,  George Will compared the ongoing Benghazi kerfuffle, the IRS “scandal,” and the broad sweep of Justice Department subpoenas of Associated Press reporters’ phone calls in order to find the source of a leak to Watergate,  George Stephanopoulos’ panel piled on, and Republican congresscritters talked Very Seriously about abuses of Executive Branch power and how they will investigate to uncover The Truth about who knew what when.

First, I’d like to give my own thoughts on each of the three “scandals,” and I use the word very loosely, and then outline what I think is likely to happen inside the Beltway, and to point out a few Very Important Things the corporate media is ignoring and will continue to ignore.

The Benghazi affair that resulted in the death of the American ambassador to Libya and subsequent mischaracterizations  by Obama Administration officials appears to be much ado about very little.  There was clearly a communications breakdown within the Department of State and between that department, intelligence agencies, and the military. The attack on the Benghazi Consulate happened with only a few days lead up, if that, and, in spite of Congresscritter Issa’s pontifications, there appears to be no deliberate conspiracy on the part of the White House itself to lie to Congress or the press about what happened. In the long run, though Benghazi may well be introduced as an Article of Impeachment by Republicans determined to throw as much shit against the wall as possible to see what sticks, I doubt it will go anywhere. There’s probably no there there.

I find the targeting of Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status by IRS bureaucrats entirely understandable. No rational IRS employee is NOT going to be suspicious of groups that one, don’t believe in paying taxes in the first place, and two, want to eliminate their jobs. Of COURSE they are going to scrutinize such people more than they would others. They needed absolutely no direction from the White House to do so, quite the opposite. All they needed was a LACK of direction from their superiors NOT to do so. Odds are the highest this will go is to senior officials in the IRS who knew about it but did nothing to stop it, and I personally don’t blame them. They’ll take the fall, and Obama and the Democrats will do their best to look all righteous about it. That won’t stop today’s Republicans, not exactly well-known for their own rationality, from trying to impeach Obama over it. I don’t think they will succeed in convicting him, but I think they’ll try.

The blanket subpoenas issued by the Justice Department to obtain communications records of the Associated Press are a different matter. As Engineer Scott on Star Trek said,  “That’s the ticket, laddie.”

The Attorney General himself authorized this end run around the courts to sweep up all of these records without judicial oversight. It was done, the Justice Department says, in the interests of “national security.” I find it highly unlikely that Obama himself did not know of and approve beforehand this action that can easily be characterized as an unconstitutional infringement of the freedom of the press. And the whole thing, the digging for leaks in secrecy in the name of national security, the deliberate avoidance of both congressional and judicial oversight, the arrogant executive privilege style stance of the Obama Administration, do indeed remind me of Watergate in a general way.

And, most importantly, the inside the Beltway corporate media itself is outraged by this kind of treatment from the Executive Branch. This story has legs, and will grow, and probably will implicate President Obama himself.

This is what I think will happen. The House of Representatives will hold a series of highly publicized hearings on all three of the above issues. “Progressive” and “conservative” talking heads will bloviate ad nauseum, and eventually, by next spring at the latest, the House Judiciary Committee will meet to discuss Articles of Impeachment. Why next spring? Because it’s an election year, of course, and the Republicans will see this as an advantage. They may even by right.

I will continue to follow up on this when my digestion is strong enough to allow me to do so,  and, if I’m wrong, I’ll freely admit it.

Now, what WON’T be mentioned. The ongoing decline in the standard of living for most Americans, the Iraq and Afghan Wars and the plight of their veterans or civilian populations; the student loan bubble until it bursts and the banks demand, and probably get, another bailout; the exponentially growing inequality of wealth and the power of the financial sector; the living wage movements in both America and developing countries; the rising economic populism in Europe; peak oil; and last but not least, climate change. There are undoubtedly more that I haven’t mentioned, but those are some biggies.

Our corporate media just won’t have the TIME. After all, what’s more dramatic than speculating over whether the President will or should be impeached, and the non-stop coverage the whole thing will require, whether most of the American people are really interested in it or not?  Besides, our power elite was running out of distractions. Political drama is always a great one.

As I said earlier, thank the Odd Gods of the Galaxy that I don’t have cable TV.

Image by Gerard Van der Leun under Creative Commons license

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