GOP message: Impeach the president! But don't tell anyone we said so!

GOP message: Impeach the president! But don't tell anyone we said so!
Speaker of the House John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), center, is shown Wednesday at the Capitol shortly before lawmakers voted to authorize a lawsuit against President Obama. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

At the moment, chatter on the right sounds an awful lot like this:

President Obama should be impeached.


If the president acts by executive order to legalize the status of anyone in this country illegally, he should be impeached.

Since the president unilaterally decided to delay implementation of the Obamacare employer mandate, he deserves to be impeached.


Try as they might, Republicans cannot escape the fact that conservative politicians and pundits have been calling for the impeachment of President Obama for years. The idea of impeachment is preposterous, of course, and no one really thinks it’s going to happen.

But Democrats did not hallucinate the idea that Republicans are making threats. They have simply turned it to their advantage, which has outraged their political foes.

Sarah Palin has been out stirring up impeachment talk. She ratcheted up the conversation on July 19, when she implied in a Denver speech that God supports impeachment. (For the record, I disagree with Palin critics who say that Palin sounded drunk during her speech at the Western Conservative Summit. I think she sounded Palinesque. She is not a naturally gifted speaker. When she deviates from her script, or tries ad-libbed humor, her pitch often goes too high and her rhythm gets thrown off. Also, you don't have to be drunk to claim the Lord is on your side politically. Lots of religious folks feel that way.)

The funereally grave conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer probably expressed as well as anyone the conflicted Republican relationship with impeachment.

On a recent Fox News show, he accused the Obama White House of invoking the specter of impeachment as a means of “softening people up” for an executive order that might grant legal status to as many as 5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally. Such a move, said Krauthammer, “reaches impeachable offense."

However, he added, "I would be 100% against impeachment because it would be political suicide."

The thing is, Democrats can play that game, too. And they have been smart about stealing the impeachment idea: Republicans want to impeach the president; give us money to fight them off.

Joe Klein of Time magazine wrote that the White House is "playing with fire" by talking up impeachment, "raising the heat in a country that is already brain-fried by partisan frenzy. There is something unseemly, and unprecedented, about an administration saying 'Bring it on' when it comes to impeachment."

He may have a point -- perhaps the White House should rise above the silliness rather than stating, as White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer did the other day, that Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner had "opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment" by moving forward with their first-of-its-kind lawsuit accusing the president of illegally modifying Obamacare requirements.

But polls show that Republicans are far more enthusiastic about the coming midterm elections than Democrats. If the Democrats hope to hold on to the Senate, they’ve got to find a way to fire up voters, especially in states with hot Senate races, like Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Alaska and Iowa.

As it turns out, it's Republicans like Palin who have been playing with fire. Democrats have turned the tables on the GOP, kung-fu style, and are using impeachment blather to their advantage.

Grasping that they have been outmaneuvered, Republicans have been struggling to change the subject, or at least muddy the conversation.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, must have disappointed many conservatives when, according to the Wall Street Journal, he told reporters Wednesday that nothing the president has done has risen to the "high crime and misdemeanor level."

My colleague Michael Memoli reported Tuesday that Boehner dismissed impeachment talk as nothing more than "a scam" by Democrats aiming to raise money.

If it's a scam, it's one that Republicans delivered to Democrats on a silver platter, slathered in whipped cream, with a cherry on top.

I'm unimpeachable on Twitter: @robinabcarian