The fevered ranks of con-
servative House Republican backbenchers seem determined to refine political idiocy into a high art form.
Connoisseurs of political pointlessness relished their futile 40 votes to repeal "Obamacare" even as parts of that health care reform law had gone onto the books and were, as far as repeal goes, effectively past the point of no return.
While the firebrands haven't given up on repeal, they've found a new windmill to tilt at: impeachment.
Maybe it's the usual August craziness that afflicts American politics, but in the town halls and constituent meetings of the far right, a truly wacky idea is beginning to gain traction: Impeach President Barack Obama.
The advocates of impeachment are hard pressed to come up with reasons to impeach Obama except that they plain don't like him.
Like former President Bill Clinton, he's that annoying kid in college who aced exams without seeming to study for them.. And, like Clinton, even when the chips are down, he's somehow able to beat them at their own game.
To Republican eyes, Obama's rap sheet is depressingly free of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that the Constitution says are the grounds for impeachment. But the Constitution leaves the definition of those crimes up to Congress. (Ask Bill Clinton about that.)
The junior Republicans know they want to impeach Obama. They just can't find a reason. Several informal task forces have been trying to gin up a justification: Benghazi, the Transportation Security Administration, executive branch overreaching on health care, the Internal Revenue Service reviews of conservative political action groups, immigration and, in one of those nice political turnarounds Washington excels in, continuing President George W. Bush's surveillance policies.
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, told his constituents that the House had the votes to bring a bill of impeachment. Mathematically, that's true; politically, not so much. The entire House Republican leadership is against the idea because they realize how ridiculous, not to mention politically divisive it is. Nothing would galvanize Obama's base more. Assuming the House was able to withstand the inevitable ridicule and pass a bill of impeachment, it would be slapped down in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
As Maureen Dowd pointed out in Sunday's New York Times, even the Democrats who loathed George W. Bush with as much passion as today's Obama-haters reserve for the president never seriously considered impeaching him "and they had real grounds: starting a war on false premises and sanctioning torture."
After last year's election, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a rising GOP star, lectured his fellow Republicans to "stop being the stupid party." They should have listened.