James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for September, 2010

Hey birthers: Obama impeachment not an option

Posted by James McPherson on September 19, 2010

OK, so we have to accept the fact that nutty conspiracy theorists, like the Biblical poor, will always be with us. But do the wacky purveyors of those theories  have to keep suggesting to their poor deluded followers that if those followers get fired up enough, somehow Barack Obama will magically be impeached?

“Naturally Floyd Brown is the ringleader,” writes The New Republic about the whimsical impeachment effort. Yes, that Floyd Brown, of Willie Horton fame. The article is actually posted on one of Brown’s websites, as if writer Jonathan Chait weren’t making fun of the movement. At least three of Brown’s readers didn’t get it either, judging from the comments.

Brown’s site seems to offer some variation on the “impeach Obama” theme every week, without offering either a clear rationale for the impeachment (“’cause he may be a secret Muslim and won’t show us a ‘real’ birth certificate that we can accept—waaaah!”), or, perhaps even more importantly, the recognition that impeaching a president and removing him from office is nearly impossible.

How near impossible? Well, it’s never been done. Two presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives, an action that takes a simple majority (which the GOP–but not birther loons–will likely have after the 2010 election).

But booting Obama from his seat would then require a vote by two-thirds of the Senate. And Floyd, you know–even if you keep pretending otherwise to stir up your fans and further line your own pockets–that just ain’t gonna happen.

Republicans may gain a majority in the Senate (though let me go on record today as predicting that Dems will maintain at least the 50 seats they need–with Joe Biden as the tie-breaker–to hold the Senate). But for the sake of my GOP friends, lets assume a Democratic apocalypse. Let’s even go so far as to assume they win every single one of the 37 seats up for election this year (they won’t come close, but play along for a moment).

Guess what: Democrats now hold only 17 of the open seats, while Republicans have 20. So the worst that could happen–and again, nothing close to that will–for Democrats is that they go from a 59-41 majority to a 42-58 minority. In other words, under the worst possible scenario, Democrats will end up almost as bad off as the Republicans in the Senate ARE RIGHT NOW.

Thanks to distorted filibuster rules, those minority Republicans have stopped the Democrats from achieving much of their agenda during the past two years. You think the Dems will suddenly be jumping up and down to help Republicans oust a Democratic president–even if every Republican suddenly turned into a birther?

Even Floyd Brown can’t believe that. For a look at a more realistic view of how the Senate will look, check out Real Clear Politics. And then if you’re an Obama hater maybe you should start thinking about something remotely plausible, like the defeat of Obama in a real, legal election–just like the one he won in 2008.

Posted in History, Legal issues, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »