If the Republicans ever manage to retake Congress, they will absolutely try to impeach President Obama. And it'll be based upon a supremely ridiculous charge such as, say, the president refusing to nourish our crops with a sports drink instead of water.
Okay, so maybe the Idiocracy example is over-the-top, but if we follow the current trajectory of far-right attacks to their logical yet insane conclusion, it makes sense in a very eerie way. Have you seen the television commercials solemnly defending our right to poison our kids with "juice drinks and soda?" There you go.
I've been following the Republican descent into the realms of the bizarre for some time now, and it wasn't until the "czars" thing broke that I became convinced that if they retook Congress the Republicans might try to impeach the president. The grounds for both the impeachment and the language used to sell it will likely be fabricated by either Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.
I mean, 100 Republican members of Congress have signed onto Rep. Jack Kingston's cartoonish czar bill. 100 House Republicans out of 177 have attached their names to a bill that was essentially invented as a television bit by Glenn Beck without any regard for the fact that "czar" is a nickname invented by the press, and that every president -- all of them! -- has employed policy and political advisers within their administrations. But it functions as an effective Beck attack because he knows his audience isn't bright enough to distinguish "czars" from "communists." By the way, not to be out-crazied by his House colleagues, Senator Ensign introduced an amendment to the Finance Committee health care reform bill called "Transparency in Czars." This might as well be "Transparency in Hobbits" because it's just that ludicrous.
Nevertheless, there's a growing conventional wisdom in the press alleging that both sides of the political spectrum are equally guilty of wackaloon attacks and conspiracy theories.
Granted there might be one or two very fringe exceptions but this is otherwise a false equivalency written by the establishment media as part of their self-conscious effort to seem balanced. The distinction is that any "fringe" attacks from the left during the Bush years weren't mainstreamed and legitimized the way the wingnut attacks are today, even though the fringe attacks from the left turned out to be mostly accurate.
On the right, we're hearing about communist takeovers, birth certificates, Oval Office dress codes, teleprompters, death panels, czars and a return to segregated buses. During the previous administration, on the other hand, the left insisted that Iraq didn't have WMD. This turned out to be true. The left insisted that there wasn't a connection between Saddam and 9/11. Also true. The left alleged that George W. Bush was incompetent. The rest of the nation caught up with the left when Katrina slammed into New Orleans, shattering the levees while Bush was eating cake with John McCain.
Some, but not all, of the left thought Bush had prior knowledge of the September 11th attacks. It's a matter of record that he knew an attack might be imminent based upon the famous PDB titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." So that one was partially true.
The left also accused the administration of using illegal wiretaps, torture and other human rights violations. All true. Did Bush have business connections with the Bin Laden family? Yes. Did 100 Democratic members of Congress co-sponsor a bill calling him out for it? Of course not.
And throughout the Bush years -- no matter how accurate the left's "fringe" attacks might've been -- liberals were marginalized and laughed off by the establishment press, ignored by certain leaders in our own party and attacked as unpatriotic by the Republicans. Sean Hannity, Tom DeLay and Bill O'Reilly, who are all busily ripping the current president an array of new holes, actively accused the left of undermining the troops because we were criticizing the commander-in-chief during wartime. Ah yes. They abandoned that one faster than Newt Gingrich abandons sick wives, didn't they?
As for the name-calling, it's to be expected given its long and distinguished history in American politics. (Teddy Roosevelt once called Howard Taft a "puzzle-wit." Fightin' words!) But again, it's a matter of who's doing it and in what context. Yes, some people on the left were guilty of violating Godwin's Law and compared Bush and Cheney to Nazis. But in terms of the ideological spectrum, it's far more likely that a conservative, reactionary, corporate-friendly administration engaged in secret detentions, eavesdropping, torture and endless war might have fascist tendencies. On the other side of the coin, I don't know when Nazis suddenly began to embrace biracial, liberal children of African immigrants, but if I missed this development then bravo Nazis! You're doing better than South Carolina! Of course I'm kidding, South Carolina. Maybe.
Yet on the right, we have legitimate politicians, talkers and writers accusing President Obama of being everything from a fascist to a communist to a foreign usurper -- as if all of those accusations are somehow interchangeable. In other words, on the left there were fringe protesters ballyhooing the "Bush is a Nazi" thing, but on the right, everyone from cable news people to members of Congress are questioning whether the president was even born in the United States.
Fortunately, no Republican members of Congress would stoop so low as to compare President Obama to Hitler -- oh wait. Correction. Congressman Gohmert did exactly that back in July on the Alex Jones radio show no less -- Alex Jones, who makes Glenn Beck and Michael Savage appear centered.
All of this is all set against the backdrop of the infamous Republican Southern Strategy: a well-known tactic from the GOP playbook employing racially-suggestive code language and imagery for the sole purpose of consolidating white support by stoking racial resentment.
This is nothing new, and so it's a little strange and nearsighted of the very serious Sunday morning television people to laugh off racial connotations in right-wing attacks against the president, given the Strategy's prevalence in Republican politics. Pat Buchanan, the official cable news grampy, practically invented it. Later, Lee Atwater laid out the semantics like so: Republicans "can't say 'nigger' -- that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff." In the present day context, Atwater might've been happy with dog-whistles like "ACORN" or "community organizers" or "third world" or "exotic."
So some of these Republicans need to drop the "who me?" act. Credit where credit is due: at least Rush Limbaugh, the de facto head of the Republican Party, is honest about his racial dog-whistles and epithets. Calling for segregated buses in order to protect white kids from violent black kids in "Obama's America" is pretty obvious, no? In light of what happens on his show for three hours a day, it's remarkable that there's such denial coming from the press. (The Obama administration has no choice but to deny it, or else they'll only succeed in feeding it.)
Ultimately, this is how the Republicans will likely proceed with an attempted impeachment of the president should they manage to take back Congress next year. If precedent is any indicator, they'll likely concoct some sort of ridiculous charge torn from a Beck or Limbaugh transcript, while generating public support for it using a Brundlefly hybrid of the Southern Strategy and neo-McCarthyism. And why not? It's exactly what they're doing now.
Vice President Biden said this week that the administration's agenda would be crushed if the Republicans manage to take back Congress. He's right, but I think it'd be worse than that. Much worse. The 1990s will seem quaint by comparison, and it's clear that no matter how ridiculous the charges, the media will devour the spectacular drama while simultaneously excusing their behavior using false equivalencies and overcompensating with right-leaning conventional wisdom.
Of course, I hope I'm very, very wrong on this one.