So far, the first person to seriously raise the issue of impeaching Barack Obama over his illegal, unconstitutional war in Libya is Dennis Kucinich. That means the man whose ideas may do the most to unite the Republican Party is a Democrat.
To be clear, impeachment is a constitutional remedy for a president intent upon violating its strictures. Unfortunately, it is also a political act, which means politicians must feel they have sufficient support before undertaking it. Many authorities have stated the Libyan intervention rises to the level of an impeachable offense. However, it might simultaneously be the perfect storm necessary to pluck Obama out of office, splinter the Democratic coalition, or weld Republicans together.
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Months into the new Republican Congress, the GOP Establishment worries it will not be able to corral the Tea Party. Despite pseudoconservative attempts to order Tea Party members around and establishment promises to “co-opt them,” this citizens’ uprising induces fear and loathing in the political class on both sides of the aisle.
To mollify their constituents, Congressional Republicans have tried to prove they are serious about the Constitution and cutting the deficit. They have passed bills requiring members to cite specific constitutional authorization. To date, the Beltway Republicans’ miniscule budget cuts not satisfied the disaffected populist movement.
What might work? Impeachment.
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King Obama’s war-by-decree was launched with zero constitutional authority. Obama did not obtain a declaration of war, nor even a Congressional “authorization of force.” Libya not only did not pose an “imminent threat” to the United States but no new threat whatsoever. In fact, the George W. Bush administration boasted of its successes in frightening Qaddafi into abandoning his WMD program, for which Bush repaid him generously. Somehow, Qaddafi’s civil war became an American “emergency.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney claimed Obama did not consult Congress because he believes “delaying action will cost lives.” After consulting with every deliberative body in the world except Congress, Obama dragged our boys into a civil war in the Muslim world that holds no security interest for us at all.
It should come as no surprise the Libyan fiasco has the lowest approval rating of any military action since Gallup started measuring them. Nearly as many Americans oppose (37 percent) as support it (47 percent). Independents oppose intervention by six percentage points. And, as the Carpenters said, we’ve only just begun.
President Obama has taken pains to claim the armed forces are not making war but are waging a “kinetic military action.” However, U.S. forces are leading more than two-thirds of the…kinesis. The Associated Press reported this morning the U.S. hand-off to NATO has not yet been hammered out, and U.S. forces will “remain key parts of the effort.”
Despite attempts at coalition-building, even the nations that invited the United States into the region are turning their backs on us. The Arab League has rolled up the red carpet. Only Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will participate in this military action, leaving the league’s 20 other members sitting in condemnation.
Why shouldn’t they? Why is the U.S. military entering a third war on behalf of “rebels” who call themselves “mujahedin”? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who directed the jihadists killing Americans in Iraq, personally visited this region of Libya to see “this city that is sending so many” holy warriors his way. According to the Jerusalem Post, al-Qaeda supports the rebels.
Would American interests really be served by seating these forces in place of a mercurial but occasionally amenable dictator? Has anyone in the West Wing even asked the question?
Republicans should investigate a host of impeachable offenses committed by this president. Libya, though, is unique.
The Republicans are not the only party with a base to court. Obama’s decision is deeply unpopular among the netroots activists who determine his party’s primaries – the ones who chose Obama over Clinton in 2008, and Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman in 2006. They oppose this war and increasingly, the Obama administration. They are angry Obama has not withdrawn all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, closed the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, or discontinued Bush-era surveillance activities. Disenchantment became obvious before this week. Aggression against Libya pushed it to a boiling point. They felt outraged at Bush’s actions; they feel betrayed by Obama’s.
Many Congressmen on the Left, who would never vote against Obama under any other circumstances, will face grassroots pressures of their own to vote for impeachment.
If Republicans hold together, they could pass impeachment through the House, probably with a few Democratic votes. Kucinich has said he is not pursuing impeachment, but he would be hard-pressed to vote against it.
Removing Obama from office requires two-thirds of all U.S. senators, most of whom are Democrats. Some RINOs will be inclined to vote against impeachment on the grounds of Libya – which is why several articles should be filed, including a full investigation into the Gerald Walpin, Joe Sestak, the Black Panthers case, and the president’s other lawless actions.
Democrats up for re-election this year will have to court their antiwar base or risk losing a primary challenge – or having their voters stay home on election day. Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester will be pressured from their more conservative states. Jim Webb of Virginia, who is retiring involuntarily because of Obama’s unpopularity, has criticized the military action in Libya and has nothing to lose voting against him.
Democratic pols are already worried the mention of impeachment will hurt Obama in 2012. But like all true politicians, they are not worried about Obama; they are worried about themselves. They know if pursued correctly, impeachment could rip the 2008 Democratic voter coalition apart.
Antiwar voters would be inclined to support impeachment; they have already begun noising that Obama is “no different” than Bush. As Ralph Nader recently said, if Bush should have been impeached for war crimes, then Obama should be impeached for war crimes. On the other hand, 89 percent of blacks support Obama. “Leaders” such as Al Sharpton will play the race card against anyone who supports impeachment, including white liberals.
Impeachment could drive a wedge between key Democratic constituencies and dispirit activists leading into an election year – yet another reason impeachment is smart politics for Republicans.
On the other hand, it would unite Republicans and Tea Party activists. A recent poll revealed 60 percent of Tea Party members favor impeachment, as do nearly half of all Republicans – before Libya.
Some Republicans worry the Libyan rebellion will become a success and turn public opinion against them. But impeachment would not be a referendum on the war but on the unconstitutional manner in which it was launched.
The UN resolution that Obama cited for his action could as easily lead to U.S. troops stationed on the West Bank, Gaza, or the Lebanese border. It could require American troops to do anything from disarming the Janjaweed militias in Sudan to deposing the president of the Federated States of Micronesia. For that matter, if American troops are ever allowed to pull out of Afghanistan or Pakistan, the Security Council could pass a resolution demanding they stay in place – to assure the new Islamic government grants abortion rights to women.
The only limits are the creativity of the United Nations and the will of the president in office.
They should broaden the articles of impeachment to any crime their investigations can prove. And they should emphasize that only removing Obama from office can stop the nation’s runaway deficit spending.
The last thing Republicans should be doing is what Sen. John Thune is doing: defending Barack Obama. “You have to reserve to your commander in chief the authority to act in emergencies,” he said, as if Libya were a national emergency. Sen. Mark Kirk, the Republican who holds Obama’s old seat, is similarly bashing Kucinich as “one of the most irresponsible, fringe members of Congress.” Usually he is; on this issue, he happens to be right.
He also may be the best strategist the GOP has.
Barack Obama may have met his Waterloo in Tripoli.