Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Will Republicans Sing "Let's Impeach the President" This Summer?

This is a prediction, and you know how predictions go: if I'm right, I get to crow about it. If I'm wrong, we will all politely forget that I made such an ass of myself.

It is well established that Bush's flagging poll numbers are bound to hurt Republicans running for House and Senate this summer. At the very least, there are indications that Republican candidates believe this to be the case, with some even avoiding appearances with Bush in their home states and districts. And there are more noises from Congress that sound like disagreement with the Administration, although as the tax cuts show, that disagreement falls short of actually affecting legislation that could turn things around.

But if polls continue to show increasing likelihood in a turnover of the House and possibly even the Senate, I predict the Republicans are going to need a stronger show of strength, albeit one which still doesn't displease their base. And President Bush's low approval ratings give them one.

Holding impeachment hearings in the House and then letting the president off the hook ("just like Clinton", they'll say) will give Republicans their "Lieberman moments" of standing tough against the White House. Then they can woo the independent and conservative Democratic voters without having to actually pass any legislation that benefits those voters.

On the other hand, not impeaching just leaves them vulnerable to having Bush hung like an albatross around their necks by an increasingly invigorated and funded Democratic opposition come fall. And if Democrats can take either the House or Senate, then it's much more likely not only that there will be impeachment hearings, but other investigations that could mean not only lost elections but jail time as well.

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