As the national media continues to highlight Sarah Palin's calls for President Barack Obama's impeachment, conservative members of the U.S. House on Tuesday distanced themselves from their party's 2008 vice presidential nominee.
At "Conversations with Conservatives," a monthly session on Capitol Hill where conservative GOP House members meet the press, the lawmakers took pains not to be critical of the former Alaska governor. But to a person, they made it clear they did not share Palin's call for impeachment, which she expressed last week on Breitbart.com: "Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, 'no mas.'"
Pointing out that Palin is one of many media commentators "who is not accountable to anyone but themselves," two-term Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho said "the American people would not agree that the president should be impeached. I would not file articles of impeachment."
Labrador instead called on Republican House members to "look at the people [from the administration] who have lied to Congress" and to "take a hard look at the IRS."
"I like Sarah Palin," Tennessee Rep. Jimmy Duncan told the conservative conclave, "but every political analyst says nothing will fire up the base of the Democratic Party like calling for impeaching [Obama]. It will also turn off some of the Democrats who are leaning our way."
Calling on Republicans to focus on "more important" ways of stopping the Obama agenda, Duncan warned that "Democrats are already using [Palin's impeachment call] to gin up contributors. If you want Democrats to keep the Senate, then start impeachment proceedings."
Duncan's view was seconded by the only other Republican participating in the "conversations" who was in the House to vote on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. Calling the case for impeaching Obama "debatable," Rep. Joe Barton of Texas said the president "has gone out of his way not to enforce some laws."
But Barton, a Republican, quickly added, "If you're going to impeach, then do it right." He said the Senate — which decides on the removal of a president after the House has voted on articles of impeachment — is in Democratic hands and "it's July," so at this point, "you could not do it as a practical matter."
Barton and other lawmakers suggested that instead of pursuing impeachment, the Republican majority in the House should try to hold the president responsible for his administration's actions.
"It's our job — we can hold this president accountable," said sophomore Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, which would mean "we go after the IRS" and other agencies thought by House members to be exceeding their legal authority.
Huelskamp also suggested that holding the president accountable can be achieved "through the appropriations process" and by delaying funding for controversial government agencies.
"This president deserves to be impeached, pure and simple," said freshman GOP Rep. Randy Weber of Texas. "Because of the 'phony scandals,' as he calls them, the country is in a mess.
"Impeaching him is not practical, but he deserves it."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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