Republicans need to face reality with hypocrisy on impeachment

Republicans need to face reality with hypocrisy on impeachment
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We are in that festive period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but do you remember how you spent National Impeach Obama Week? That was the period in 2014 when the “Coalition to Impeach Obama Now” sought the removal of President Obama by staging national protests. The plan was to unfurl impeachment banners at road intersections and bridges across America. Among the impeachable offenses broadcast included “bizarre and erratic behavior” which “implies psychological pathology” and “governing by dictatorial fiat with lawless executive order.”

But where are they now? Why no protest of “lawless executive orders” when President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE has signed more than Obama? What about when Trump declares he has an Article Two with “the right to do whatever” he wants as president? Where are concerns of “bizarre and erratic behavior” when the president refers to himself as a “very stable genius” and “the chosen one” who has “great and unmatched wisdom”? Where is the outrage at “governing by dictatorial fiat” when Trump seeks to bribe a foreign leader to help himself win an election and stay in power?

The political hypocrisy over the years is not limited to a fringe group draping their spray painted “Impeach Obama” bedsheets from highway overpasses. Many Republican leaders at the state and national levels are demonstrating a kind of ziplock ability to unfasten themselves from past impeachment standards in order to seal their loyalty with Trump.

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Take Republican Representative Michael Burgess of Texas. When he spoke at a Tea Party gathering in his district in 2011, he advocated impeaching Obama. But when he voted last month against the impeachment inquiry into Trump, Burgess called the process “a sham and a shame” and an “exercise in futility.” Speaking of futility, he has also devoted himself to defunding the Energy Department efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs. Glaciers may be melting, Venice is flooding, and wildfires are burning, but he will make the world safe for conventional light bulbs.

Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma alleged a coverup in the Obama investigation of the attack in Benghazi in 2013. “People may be starting to use the ‘i’ word before too long,” he said during an interview, referring to impeachment. Today, the “i” word is “inconsistent.” Inhofe called the current investigation full of “smear tactics” used by Democratic lawmakers who are “desperate and singularly focused on discrediting and delegitimizing President Trump, no matter what, in spite of his successes with the economy, military, and judges.” Evidently, there is a constitutional exemption from impeachment based on stock market performance.

When Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa was asked earlier this month whether it is acceptable for a sitting president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival, she refused to answer. Instead of addressing claims against Trump, her defense has been to argue that impeachment distracts from more pressing issues. Five years ago, Ernst was not worried that impeachment might divert policy discussion. In 2014, she said that Obama was “absolutely overstepping his bounds” and “should face those repercussions” whether it be “removal from office” or impeachment.

Let us also not forget the South Dakota Republican Party, which voted in 2014 to demand the impeachment of Obama when he exchanged five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo for former Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured in Afghanistan. A few weeks ago, the executive board of the South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution in full support of Trump and castigated Democrats for trying to “do through this impeachment fiasco what they cannot achieve at the ballot box.”

Finally, there is the eloquent hypocrisy of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who frothingly defends Trump today. However, when President Clinton was being impeached back in 1999, Graham said, “You do not even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing of the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

Are you listening, Lindsey? If so, which Lindsey are you listening to?

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment Republicans need to face reality with hypocrisy on impeachment Elise Stefanik tests impeachment waters for moderates in Congress MORE represented New York in Congress for 16 years and served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. You can find him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.