“President Biden should be impeached by the incoming House Republican majority over his ongoing destruction of the southern border,” proclaimed National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy on New Year’s Eve.
Once the preserve of the GOP’s right wing, which introduced nine failed impeachment resolutions against Biden prior to the midterm elections, the idea of impeaching Joe Biden is gathering ground. Even staid moderates are beginning to realize that six million illegals pouring across the Rio Grande might not be such a blessing of liberty. Rank-and-file Republicans are hungering for revenge against Democrats for twice impeaching former president Donald Trump. Facing a historically fierce contest to become House speaker, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy promised vigorous investigations that could potentially lead to impeachments of Biden administration officials and, possibly, of the president himself.
Regardless of the rationale, impeachment is the wrong road for the GOP to go down.
To begin with only the most obvious argument, the numbers don’t add up. The slim Republican House majority might approve articles of impeachment in a strict party-line vote, but this is far from guaranteed. As McCarthy demonstrated with his painful speakership bid, it takes only a handful of dissenters to derail an entire project. Should the impeachment succeed in the House, the Republicans would then need to secure a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict and remove Biden. With the Democrats holding a 51-to-49-seat majority, that is a pipe dream every bit as fanciful as the Democrats’ forlorn hopes of ousting Trump.
The plain fact is that impeachment, a constitutional provision used only a couple of dozen times in the history of the Republic, has become little more than a partisan political weapon. Not even a well-considered legal case against Biden is likely to sway congressional Democrats to support his removal. The most incontrovertible evidence against the president would take a backseat to the primacy of the progressive ideology that controls the Democratic Party. As long as Biden is reliably following that ideology, Democrats will never opt to impeach. In fact, they’ll field any excuse to keep him in power, just as they do every time they are confronted by questions about his obvious cognitive decline. The mainstream media will also cover for Biden, either explaining away any charge or simply burying the story, as they did with Hunter Biden’s incriminating laptop prior to the 2020 presidential election.
While impeachment proceedings would certainly embarrass Biden and temporarily distract his administration, it is virtually guaranteed he will remain in office. Then, as both Trump and Bill Clinton did on a total of three occasions, he’ll be able to net a victory over his partisan opponents, who will have failed to employ the only constitutional option to oust him.
Like his impeached predecessors, the aura of triumph will almost certainly translate into a boost in Biden’s approval rating. Clinton’s approval rating jumped nine points in the days after the House voted to impeach him in December 1998 and soared over 60 percent during his Senate trial. Less than two years later, Clinton left office, and has since remained a remarkably popular former president. In 2000, he nearly succeeded in handing over office to his vice president, Al Gore, who won the popular vote but lost to George W. Bush in the Electoral College. In 2016, Clinton was nearly succeeded by his wife Hillary, who also won the popular vote.
When Trump was impeached the first time, in December 2019, his approval rating spiked six points before he, too, was acquitted. In February 2020, his Gallup approval rating, based on polling data collected during his Senate trial, clocked in at the highest of his presidency, and his party duly nominated him for reelection. Following Trump’s second impeachment a year later, the needle barely moved. He remains enduringly popular among Republicans, and is the only declared candidate for his party’s nomination in 2024.
There is no reason to assume Biden will fare any worse if congressional Republicans pursue impeachment, especially if their House majority remains as fractious as it was during McCarthy’s speakership bid. All the House GOP has to lose is millions of dollars in research funds, thousands of hours in staff time, and immense energy it could devote elsewhere — all to strengthen a president who right now is at best plodding along.
Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute.