By Juan Williams - 11/18/13 06:00 AM EST
Last week, 20 House Republicans, including Louie Gohmert (Texas), Ted Yoho (Fla.) and Michele Bachmann (Minn.), took the first step to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder.
They introduced articles of impeachment that target Holder for failing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and other sins, including not enforcing federal marijuana laws.
But there is a bigger story here.
Having twice failed to defeat President Obama, the GOP persists in defying the will of the voters by making it difficult for this president to lead the government. That strategy includes blocking nominees to the cabinet, blocking nominees to the judiciary, shutting down the government and endless charges of scandal that result in hyper-political oversight hearings.
Polls show Congress now at stunning depths, with just 9 percent public approval. That is their reward for endless petty behavior and failure to deal with the number one issue — spurring job creation and economic growth. But the distracted, polarized Congress and the nation’s feckless news media act as if this bizarre moment in history amounts to normal political infighting.
The prospect of the attorney general being impeached apparently does not seem so crazy when the Republican majority in the House has already taken the unprecedented step of voting to hold him in contempt of Congress.
Holder is treating it all as a joke, too.
“I have serious things … that I have to engage in,” he told CBS. Flicking away the thought of impeachment, Holder said: “I’m not going to be devoting much attention to those kinds of things.”
But it is not a joke when the nation’s top law enforcement officer is defamed without any evidence. The only time in history that Congress found a member of the president’s cabinet worthy of impeachment was in 1876 when William Belknap, President Ulysses S. Grant’s secretary of war, was accused of bribery. He resigned on the day of his House impeachment.
There is nothing in the articles of impeachment resolution against Holder that comes close to bribery.
Instead the Republicans cite policy differences. Their goal is to create an atmosphere of suspicion and undercut the credibility of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. They want to make it difficult for him to function, impossible to do his job.
Holder is not the only Obama cabinet secretary being hamstrung by Republican tactics.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, is the target of a long line of congressional Republicans waiting their turn before the cameras to call for her resignation.
Their charge is that she is responsible for the badly flawed start of the Affordable Care Act, specifically the troubled website. The idea that she is responsible for badly written computer code is ridiculous.
As they attack Sebelius, congressional Republicans act as if they have not consistently tried to repeal, defund, delay and defeat the law.
Their goal is to damage her ability to lead and derail the idea of a government-run national healthcare program. Once again the bulls-eye for the GOP is the president’s ability to govern.
The GOP has also recently filibustered the president’s nominee to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Rep. Mel Watt (D- N.C.), and called him unqualified. This is in line with GOP tactics earlier this year in blocking confirmation for several cabinet nominees while demeaning them.
That is what happened for several weeks to the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency; Thomas Perez to become Labor secretary; Chuck Hagel to run the Defense Department; and John Brennan to take over the CIA.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is currently promising to block any nominee to any post unless he hears more testimony on Benghazi — despite hours of testimony and probes into that episode.
In the last two weeks, Republicans have also blocked votes on two highly qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard have been filibustered despite a GOP pledge in July to allow judicial candidates to get to the floor for a straight majority vote.
The GOP filibustered the nomination of another highly qualified candidate, Caitlin Halligan, to the court earlier this year. She withdrew her name, to the delight of Republicans.
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) is transparent in his disdain for the Senate’s normal role of advice and consent of Obama’s judicial nominees.
In October, he raced past any question of Millett’s qualifications to say he opposed her confirmation to prevent Obama from putting a majority of the judges on the D.C. Circuit Court and to avoid a “tilt [to] the court ideologically in a way that favors the big government agenda of the Obama administration.”
That kind of talk was once reserved for election campaigns. But the GOP is in a non-stop campaign against the will of the voters and the sitting president. That is the real news from Capitol Hill.
Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel.