Only people who weren’t paying attention didn’t know this the Republicans were going to impeach Clinton no matter what. Charlie Pierce:
This has been a consistent something-more-than-a-rumor ever since Bill Clinton took office — that the Republicans wanted him removed from the first day he took office, and that they were not waiting for a crime so much as they were waiting for the moment when they had the votes to do it. (That this is a monumental act of contempt for the people who elected him their president should not concern us here, because it apparently never concerned the Republicans.) At this point, of course, impeachment was still considered by the country at large to be a constitutional artifact, as it had been even at the beginning of the country. Thomas Jefferson was both wary of the political uses to which it could be put, and also prone to ridiculing the whole notion. In 1798, in a letter to James Madison, Jefferson called it “the most formidable weapon for the purpose of dominant faction that ever was contrived.” Twenty-two years later, in another letter, this one to Thomas Ritchie, he famously dismissed it as a “scarecrow.”
However, in committing themselves essentially to the impeachment of Bill Clinton with or without criminal cause, and simply because they had the votes for it, the Republicans seriously upped the ante, and they put flesh on Jefferson’s scarecrow into the bargain. It was seriously argued in Republican circles that it is within Congress’s power to impeach the president if they simply do not like the policies he attempts to enact. (In her impeachment book, Ann Coulter surmises that President George H.W. Bush theoretically could have been impeached for raising taxes, and thereby breaking a promise he’d made in accepting the Republican nomination in 1988.) I followed this whole thing pretty closely in 1997 and 1998 and I don’t recall any of our prominent pundits, or many of the people covering the events, mentioning at the time that the Republicans were preparing to impeach Clinton for something just about from the moment his hand left the Bible, which is pretty much what Inglis copped to when he spoke to the former president more recently.
Which makes me a little less sanguine than most people when I hear that Grover Norquist is going on about the subject again:
Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach. The last year, he’s gone into this huddle where he does everything by executive order. He’s made no effort to work with Congress.
Yes, and I have made “no effort” to convince Holy Mother Church to close St. Patrick’s and open up a fried-dough stand in its place.
Over the past 10 years, and particularly over the past three, we have seen as a consistent strategy by conservative Republicans thinking, and then acting, on the unthinkable. Nobody ever used the filibuster the way they have. All the “gentlemen’s agreements” that grease the wheels of the legislative process have become dead letters, no matter what dunces like Evan Bayh say. If you don’t think they won’t try this farce again, elect them majorities in both houses and see what happens.