Everyone thinks Republicans will win control of the House in November, despite possible shifts in the Democrats’ favor in recent weeks. If the GOP does take control, an obvious question is: will Joe Biden be impeached? Should he be?
On those questions, Rasmussen reports poll numbers that seem remarkable, based on a survey of 1,000 likely voters:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 52% of Likely U.S. voters support the impeachment of Biden, including 38% who Strongly Support it. Forty-two percent (42%) are opposed to impeaching Biden, including 30% who Strongly Oppose it.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Republican voters, 32% of Democrats and 50% of voters not affiliated with either major party at least somewhat support Biden’s impeachment.
This was the question Rasmussen asked: “Some Republicans in Congress have endorsed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden, citing his immigration policy and his failure in Afghanistan, among other reasons. Do you support or oppose impeaching President Biden?” Of Rasmussen’s findings, perhaps the most extraordinary is that 32% of Democrats at least somewhat support impeaching Biden.
I think grounds to impeach Biden clearly exist. Most notably, he has violated the Constitution’s Take Care Clause and his oath of office by erasing our country’s southern border and encouraging mass lawlessness there. But the prudential question remains: should Republicans impeach Biden, given that there are constitutionally sound grounds for doing so?
I think not. Impeachment is a political act, and in my judgment the political calculus weighs against it. In the first place, there is no chance of conviction in the Senate, so impeachment would be, in that sense, futile. The purpose presumably would be to embarrass Biden, to highlight his failures, to turn him into a lame duck. But Biden is already such a pathetic figure, a lame duck from the moment he took office, that any such political gain would likely be minimal. And the Democrats have so cheapened impeachment, by their absurd use of the weapon against Donald Trump–twice!–that I don’t think much ignominy now attaches to it. It is seen as an exercise of raw political power, and as such, is unimpressive.
Further, I am of the generation that was scarred by the Republicans’ impeachment of Bill Clinton. Republicans thought they were doing the right thing, but they paid a heavy price. Most voters were happy with the Reagan/Clinton economy, didn’t care about Clinton’s sexual exploits, and saw impeachment as a vindictive act unrelated to their interests.
To be sure, Joe Biden’s brazen flouting of the Constitution and his oath of office are far more serious, as impeachable offenses, than anything Clinton did. But the fundamental point is the same. If Republicans take the House and expeditiously proceed to an impeachment process, I think most voters will think they are wasting their time on a political vendetta (which is all that impeachment has come to be). Voters want Republicans to advance their interests, not to settle scores, and I think most will be annoyed if a Republican House focuses on impeachment rather than crime, the cost of living and the border, regardless of what they now tell pollsters.
So: could Joe Biden be impeached? Grounds certainly exist. Should he be impeached? I don’t think so. Will he be impeached? No. I think the House leadership will make much the same calculation that I do.
STEVE adds: I’m in rare disagreement with John on this question, though not strongly so. I think he is right that impeachment would surely fail, and might turn off a lot of voters as it did in 1998-99. But game theory instructs that when the other side is behaving badly, tit-for-tat is the most effective response to make them stop. So I say impeach Biden, and half his cabinet while we’re at it. Then they’ll be less likely to do it when President Trump telephones Zelensky again at the beginning of his second term.