GRAVES REGISTRY: Boehner plays his hand


You really shouldn’t attempt to con a man who is a lot smarter than you are.

House Speaker John Boehner is contemplating impeaching President Obama. It isn’t going to go anywhere of course, but the idea might give people a better sense of how the residents of Whoville felt in the Dr. Seuss stories. "It’s on the table," Mr. Boehner rumbled ominously, like a poker hand laid face down in a juvenile attempt to bluff someone who knows that there are nothing but jokers in front of him.

If you are not aware of the circumstances of Congress’ latest exercise in futility (right behind Benghazi), I’ll inject a fun aspect to this dismal circus. Try to guess the reason the Republicans are talking impeachment.

1. Obama is an unconstitutional upstart who has never known his place and, besides that, he’s, you know Š ah, not white.

2. Obama’s attention is too focused upon what is best for the greatest number of people in America when it should be concerned with the best interests of the founts of trickle who traditionally determine what is good for them.

3. The president didn’t implement aspects of the Affordable Care Act quickly enough.

Especially discerning people might conclude that the first two choices, while basically being unimpeachable offenses -- unless the Koch brothers shell out a lot more money -- led to the concoction of the third, which, believe it or not, is the correct one. The GOP is actually threatening impeachment because Obama didn’t immediately initiate provisions of an act that they had previously warned would signal the end of the world as we know it. (Hence the initial illusion to the precepts elaborated again and again by Dr. Seuss.)

I imagine serious midnight oil was burned in a conservative sanctuary somewhere to come up with this one but, in terms of sheer, unabashed gall, it is a little like Jack the Ripper excoriating the women in Whitechapel for public indecency. You do have to wonder, however, just how much more of this time-wasting idiocy the American people are going to stand for.

The Republicans tried to impeach President Clinton, too, forking over $6.2 million of taxpayer money to fund an alternately salacious and sanctimonious investigation by big-time lawyer Ken Starr that has had all the lasting impact of an "Entertainment Tonight" expose about celebrity breast implants. Mr. Clinton is now one of the most popular men on the planet.

Democrats are less inclined towards impeachment as a political weapon. Whoever had a better reason than when it was discovered that W. and his merry band of neocons had fudged intelligence reports to justify the preemptive invasion of another nation? The Democrats, demonstrating the civility that would constantly hobble the Obama just-reach-out-your-hand presidency, let the moment pass.

It is hardly worth reiterating where Bush and Cheney stand on the popularity pole. Suffice it to say that it’s the part that is underground. They are both expecting that history will eventually disinter their legacies, along with an extensive reevaluation of Keanu Reeve’s acting ability.

In a near-perfect display of chief executive solidarity, Mr. Obama addressed one of his predecessor’s legacies last week as if he was bemoaning the overuse of cinnamon in an apple pie he had just baked. "We tortured some folks," said the president. Thank God someone must have talked the him out of adding, "Hey, it happens."

Way, way back when some of us were inclined to believe that Barack Obama was the political equivalent of the Second Coming, the use of torture to extract information from prisoners of war was one of the issues that we hoped our new president would address. Career apologists have typically minimized the moral culpability of the Bush administration by carping about what constitutes torture from the safety of their leather chairs in lavishly funded think tanks.

If we expected justice to prevail, the hope went in roughly the same direction as Guantanamo. And, like Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, I expect the political establishment has decided that just moving on is in the best interests of the country. In another one of Washington’s "let he who is without sin" moments, the legitimate possibility of an American president being charged with war crimes has been winnowed down by another president to just four wimpy words that don’t even have the distinction of being revelatory.

We tortured some folks. We killed some folks, too. So, what else is new?

Alden Graves is a Banner columnist.


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