WASHINGTON – The movement to impeach U.S. President Barack Obama has had no realistic chance of success, no discernible groundswell of public support, but it now has a celebrity champion.
Step right up, Sarah Palin.
The former vice-presidential candidate has become the first nationally prominent Republican to explicitly call for the impeachment of the commander-in-chief.
Her main rationale: Obama’s failure to secure the border from a flood of illegal Latin American migrants, which Palin appears to suggest might even be part of some insidious plan. The ex-Alaska governor, bestselling author, and TV host has laid out her case in a letter on a conservative website.
“Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas,'” said the Palin missive, posted Tuesday on the Breitbart site.
“Without borders, there is no nation. Obama knows this. Opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants is deliberate. This is his fundamental transformation of America.”
She concluded with a warning sure to ruffle a few feathers within the Republican party: Either you work to impeach him, or become a target yourself. “It’s time to impeach,” Palin wrote. “We should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for (this).”
No American president has ever been turfed from office as the result of impeachment proceedings. However, more than a century apart, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached by the House of Representatives before being spared by the Senate.
In the case of Obama, it’s currently inconceivable that the Senate could muster up the necessary two-thirds impeachment votes, whether or not the chamber slips from the Democrats’ control in elections later this year.
If there’s any public clamour for the nuclear option, it’s been well camouflaged. While polls on the subject have been scarce, different surveys last year suggested impeachment had little support among moderate voters.
The polls put support for the idea at about one-third of overall American voters, with somewhere between half of Republican voters to a two-thirds majority of them endorsing the idea, depending on the state.
Until now, the noisiest push for impeachment has arguably come from Republican party members in South Dakota, who voted in favour of dumping Obama.
That doesn’t necessarily render Palin’s cri de coeur insignificant.
Some Washington observers suggest it could actually put pressure on Republican lawmakers to fall in line. And some pundits, from both the left and right, predict this talk could boomerang against Republicans.
One conservative writer lamented that it might even be a lifeline for Democrats, who until now have appeared in danger of being weakened in the November congressional midterms.
“Last week, I tweeted, ‘Some liberals and Democrats really seem to hope Republicans will go crazy and try to impeach Obama,'” the Washington Examiner’s Byron York wrote on Twitter.
“Now, Sarah Palin is doing her part.”
As for the topic that motivated Palin’s impeachment call, tempers have flared along the U.S.’s southern border.
The Obama administration has asked Congress for US$3.7 billion to deal with a surge of children and families from violence-plagued Central America, which has prompted tense standoffs involving protestors and migrants.
The administration has said it plans to deport most of the migrants, including children.