John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Let’s Stop the Impeachment Chatter

Posted on May 15, 2013

When I worked for the Hammer, I told him point-blank it was unwise for him to lead the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

I explained to him that even if we could pass an impeachment resolution out of the House, a conviction would fail in the Senate because that required a two-thirds vote, and if he led the impeachment drive, it would automatically become a partisan event, making  a conviction impossible

Tom DeLay thanked me for my thoughts and said in no uncertain terms that Clinton’s actions were a moral stain on the Presidency and that he had to be made accountable.

As it turned out, we were both right.  By leading the impeachment drive, DeLay’s role turned it into a partisan affair, and while Republicans were able to get some articles passed through the House, the Senate never got close to convicting the President.

But by impeaching Clinton for having an affair in the Oval Office with one of his interns and then lying about it on national television, under oath, Mr. DeLay was able to put a permanent stain (no pun intended) on the popular President’s historic record.

Republicans recovered from impeachment, eventually, although it ended up taking down a Speaker and a man who would replace him.   Because the abuse of power was so specific to Clinton’s notorious sex drive, the impeachment controversy didn’t cause the country to suddenly lose faith in government or cause a tectonic split in the country.

Most people thought that while impeachment itself was probably an over-reach and definitely a complete waste of money and time, somebody other than his wife needed to send a message to the President that this time, he had really, really screwed up.   And that message was the impeachment/non-conviction two-step.

Impeachment is now coming up in terms of the various scandals that have beset the Obama Administration.  That is a different kettle of fish.


When Republicans drove the impeachment of Clinton, they were disgusted with the President’s conduct.  When Republicans talk impeachment of Obama, something far more sinister comes to mind.

Impeaching Obama won’t solve this country’s problems.  It won’t put us on a pathway of healing this country.  It won’t create jobs.  It will sharply divide this country.  It will convince people that the GOP is a party of racists.   And it will end the Republican Party as we know it, making it a minor regional party for at least a generation.

Barack Obama is not a very good President.  I think he is in over his head.  I have been consistent on that.  I don’t think he has the experience or the executive ability to drive consensus and get things done.

But Obama is not a Communist.  He is not anti-American.  He is not a racist.  He is not a Muslim.  He is not a trying to undermine this country.

The scandals that have befallen the Obama White House have brought echoes of Watergate for some.  The political enemies list.  The suppression of press freedom.  The lies.  The use of the IRS as a political cudgel.

And many of these scandals are bad news.   They deserve to be thoroughly investigated.  There should be an independent counsel appointed quickly, right after the Independent Counsel law is re-passed into law.

But let’s see where this all goes.  If this is a return to Nixon, it will be the Democrats who will take the lead.  And if the press gets bad enough, a politically- wounded Obama is better for Republicans than an impeachment drive led by Republicans.

So, to my Republican friends, I have a simple request.   Stop the impeachment talk.  It is not helpful.