Talking Points Memo caught up with former Congressman and Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, to ask him what Republicans should do in the event that President Barack Obama takes executive action on immigration–the suddenly burning issue Republicans left hanging as they left Washington for the August recess:
If President Barack Obama takes unilateral steps to grant “amnesty” to people living in the U.S. illegally, the House of Representatives must impeach him, former Rep. Tom Tancredo told TPM in an interview.
“It’s unconstitutional. He should be impeached if he tries it,” Tancredo, a Colorado Republican and outspoken immigration hawk in the House from 1999 to 2009, said Wednesday evening by phone from his home in Denver…
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his allies emphasize that they have no plans to pursue impeachment. Even some conservative House lawmakers say it’s impractical because there won’t be the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict and remove him from office.
Tancredo’s message Boehner: do it anyway. [Pols emphasis]
“Do you do what’s right or do you look at it from a political standpoint? You can say, gee, we probably couldn’t convict him,” he said. “Of course, Democrats will take full advantage of this and say it’s because he’s black. But if it’s the right thing to do it’s the right thing to do. But if you don’t do it then all of a sudden you have set a precedent for future presidents to violate the Constitution. You’ve raised the bar — you’ve made it harder to impeach somebody. It’s a very dangerous thing.”
At this point, it’s a fair argument that Tancredo really is speaking for the Republican base–just not its leadership, which has no interest in talking about something as radical as impeachment with elections around the corner. TPM cites a CNN poll last month in which fully 57% of Republicans support impeaching the President. Outside the Republican base there is nothing like this level of antipathy toward Obama, which demonstrates the effectiveness of conservative media in both radicalizing and insulating the Republican base from mainstream public opinion. This last point is critical to understand: if the idea of impeaching Obama seems absolutely insane to you, you’re simply not getting the right programming.
The proof is on FOX News every night, where the impeachment drumbeat is loud and proud.
This is how, even as the party’s leadership insists to undecided voters that there is no appetite for throwing our already divided politics into yet more chaos, the GOP grassroots is kept at the fever pitch Republicans need to win elections. It’s a delicate game, but we submit to you that Tancredo knows exactly what his role is: and somewhere in Washington, a Republican strategist is fine with it.
Any who care about the GOP’s long term future are horrified, but without the base, there’s no midterm victory.