After she took over as Speaker of the House in 2007, Nancy Pelosi alienated many progressives when she repeated that "impeachment was off the table." The question continued to dog her into 2008, after Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced a single article of impeachment against President Bush, accusing him of deceiving Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq.
Pelosi knew that opening up such a huge political can of worms could anger independents and hurt the Democrats' chances of winning back the White House that year, with the reality of how the GOP alienated the country a decade before still fresh in her memory.
Can Republicans retain that same level of discipline as a new round of hearings regarding the death of former U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans gets under way?
As Peggy Noonan writes today in the Wall Street Journal, "We're about to find out if Republican congressmen can be mature."
We wrote on this blog a couple of days ago about George Will conjuring up memories of 1998 and Bill Clinton's impeachment when discussing how these hearings might play out with Republicans across the land. Charles Krauthammer also acknowledges today that the hearings are a "big political risk for Republicans," and on "purely partisan considerations, the hearings are not worth the political risk."
But he then goes on to write that the country deserves the truth about what happened on September 11, 2012, and if South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy can conduct the hearings in a clean, factual dispassionate way, that's exactly what we'll get.
But the issue is fraught with partisanship. Most Democrats believe the hearings are a way to continue battering the reputation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, presumed to become the next Democratic candidate for president. But will the Republicans go one step further, as Mike Huckabee suggested a full year ago when he said Benghazi could lead to President Obama's impeachment? The party's agenda is strictly anti-Obama anyway (oppose the ACA, oppose raising the minimum wage, oppose everything he suggests, essentially). Throw in the I.R.S. scandal, maybe some NSA stuff, all of President Obama's executive actions that many Republicans claim are un-constitutional? Well, we'll find out soon how "mature" Republican congressmen can act...
Meanwhile, one of the most cerebral hosts of a television talk show is political science professor Melissa Harris-Perry, whose eponymous program airs Saturday and Sunday mornings on MSNBC. Hear what she has to say to CL in an interview we conducted earlier this week here.
The deadline to qualify by petition to run for a Hillsborough County Commission seat is soon approaching. Lela Lilyquist hopes to make it on the ballot in District 4 by that method. If she does, she'd certainly make candidate forums interesting before the August primary.
And Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he thinks HART could be the transit agency in Hillsborough County for expanding the county's transportation needs — but not just yet.