Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Ernst Impeaches System, Herself

What does Joni Ernst really think about impeaching Barack Obama: what she said in January, when she supported it, or what she's saying now in hasty retreat?

I've got no way to get inside her brain to find out. But I can tell you what I think.

I think Joni Ernst is smart. Smart enough to know that, if she had said she was against impeachment in January, in response to a partisan question in front of a partisan crowd...

He is continually using executive order, he is making appointments without authority. So yes, absolutely he is overstepping his bounds. And I do think that, yes, he should face those repercussions. Now, whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment...
But as a U.S. senator, absolutely -- as a U.S. senator though, we have to push that issue, and we can’t be silent on things like that. And unfortunately we have a number of legislators right now that simply let these things happen. They are not speaking up against these actions. They're not speaking out against the president when he oversteps his bounds, when he makes those appointments, when he’s appointing czars, when he is producing executive orders in a threat to a Congress that won’t do as he wishes. 

So he has become a dictator. He is running amok. He is not following our Constitution, and unfortunately we have leaders who are not serving as leaders right now. They’re not stepping up, they’re not defending the Constitution, and they are not defending you and me.

...she would NOT have been the one who broke out of the five and a half candidate pack to clinch the Republican nomination outright in the primary.For whatever reason, and there's all sorts of psychoanalyzing of it, the GOP base demands nothing less than absolute rejection of and defiance toward Obama the administration and Obama the man.

She's also smart enough to know that rhetoric like that is unpalatable to the swing voters who'll decide this very polarized Senate race, the tiny handful of often ill-informed "independents" who say they want everyone to Just Get Along even though the parties and candidates believe polarized, opposite things.

This gaffe is an indictment of Ernst's character. But it's also an indictment of our political culture and structure.

It's a problem in both parties but it's far far more significant for Republicans, where demands for purity are so strong in the primary context that crazy is always a safe bet.

But it's not just our primary structure that's at fault. It's our general election structure and culture, our cycle of high turnout presidential elections and low turnout mid-terms, and the resulting see-saw results and divided government.

What GOP extremists really want isn't "impeachment." Even they can't honestly believe issue disagreement can be classified as High Crimes And Misdemeanors. What they really want, even if they can't articulate it, is for Barack Obama to go away. In the GOP playbook under both Obama and Clinton, "impeachment" has become a do-over, a parliamentary style no confidence vote.

In a parliamentary system you wouldn't have a 1994 or a 2010 result, with the Republicans taking over the House and Democrats staying on in a weakened presidency. You'd have a new prime minister.

More accurately, you wouldn't have a 1994 or a 2010 because you wouldn't have a low turnout off-year election in the first place. President, rather prime minister, would be at stake in EVERY general election, with a resulting boost in turnout.

And you wouldn't have a health care bill watered down to meet the objections of a handful of Blue Dogs, but now I'm tangenting WAY to far beyond the original point.

If Joni Ernst is smart enough to pander in a primary and pivot in a general election, she's also smart enough to know better than to think she can get away with having it both ways in the era of YouTube and trackers.

No comments: