You Want President Obama Impeached, Sarah Palin? For What?

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at the Republican Party of Florida’s fundraising event at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort Nov. 3, 2011, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at the Republican Party of Florida’s fundraising event at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort Nov. 3, 2011, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

If you’re familiar with the oeuvre of the late conservative Internet provocateur Andrew Breitbart, you’ll know that he’s remembered among his admirers for the cri de coeur that he offered right before his death: “Apologize for WHAT?


It’s become as much a part of Tea Party lore as Rick Santelli’s CNBC rant or South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” So you’ll pardon me if I find it just a bit ironic that is where Palin chose to pen her immediately infamous op-ed calling for President Barack Obama’s impeachment, because in it she rails on and on about the president’s “many impeachable offenses”—but if you read it closely, you quickly notice that she never specifies a single one.

Which has me asking one simple question: Impeachment, Gov. Palin … for what?

As the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart points out, there are any number of reasons to rip Palin’s op-ed. For starters, she’s lost all credibility politically. At this point, she’s a gadfly who’ll be remembered for helping Obama turn a garden-variety win into a landslide in 2008—who quit in the middle of her first term as Alaska’s governor to star in a reality-TV series; who got bumped from Fox News’ starting lineup to become a seldom-used benchwarmer; and who, after spending six years in the national spotlight, has never been associated with a single serious policy proposal.

I wouldn’t want her on my side if I were trying to make a case for impeachment—and according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 52 percent of Americans appear to agree.

Even if Palin aspires to make only the flakiest case for impeachment, the reality is that in her op-ed, she never even tries. And by circling all around impeachment—but never addressing it—she winds up exposing what the impeachment talk swirling around Obama these days is all about. It's about the far right’s inability to accept coming up empty after two tries at defeating Obama at the ballot box.

Despite the Dow’s nearly 10,000-point gain and 52 straight months of job growth on Obama’s watch, Palin argues, unconvincingly, that the president’s policies are “obstructing any economic recovery.” But even if you accept her premise at face value, one thing it’s not is a case for impeachment.

Immigrants are being deported at a faster clip during Obama’s tenure than they were during President George W. Bush’s tenure. But even if you accept Palin’s premise that Obama is “opening our borders to a flood of illegal immigrants,” that still doesn’t shed light on what she thinks his impeachable offense is.


The one thing that stands out in Palin’s piece is how she goes out of her way to complain that because of Obama, Americans “now feel like strangers in their own land.”

Which sounds familiar, right? It’s a barely camouflaged version of the old “I want my country back” riff that you’d hear all the time during the Tea Party’s beta-test days—but that now even the movement’s true believers wouldn’t want to be caught saying out loud.


And it’s that part of the “argument” that’s the tip-off that Palin’s call—and, probably, most of the other calls—for impeachment are mainly about political theater, not principle. As The Root’s Corey Dade wrote few months back, for years now, an assortment of Republicans have been attacking Obama as “lawless” and a “tyrant”—messaging that’s pretty clearly a preamble to, and “intended to establish a political rationale for,” impeachment.

But they’ve still yet to articulate a credible case.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m convinced that if congressional Republicans win control of both houses after November’s midterm elections, they will go for articles of impeachment in the House and for conviction in the Senate. Despite the apparent objections of House Speaker John Boehner, who’s already on record saying that he disagrees with Palin, I don’t think his caucus will be able to resist.


But if Palin or Congress or anyone else is going to demand Obama’s impeachment, then the very least they can do is cough up a plausible explanation for it.

It’s on them, not everyone else, to answer the obvious question: For what?

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter