It started with The New Republic's Jonathan Chait. "Hear me now and believe me later," he declared a week ago: "If Republicans win and maintain control of the House of Representatives, they are going to impeach President Obama." For what? It doesn't matter. "You can always find something. Mini-scandals break out regularly in Washington." Chait explains that conservatives look back fondly on the Clinton impeachment, viewing it as a successful piece of "political warfare" that "sufficiently tarnished" the president so that anyone associated with the administration—particularly Al Gore—became toxic. With Obama, says Chait, the motives for conservatives are even stronger:

This is the conservative view of Obama--a left-wing radical who seized power via an economic crisis, smuggled radical views into the White House, and used unfair tactics to force an unpopular transformative left-wing agenda upon a conservative country.

The history of modern Washington is a history of the social norms that once restrained political parties from no-holds-barred warfare falling by the wayside, one by one. Why would Republicans impeach Obama? The better question is, why wouldn't they?

Anyone else agree?
  • 'I'll Take That Bet,' responds conservative blogger Jonah Goldberg of National Review, calling Chait "nuts. ... I'll bet him $500 to the charity of the winner's choice it doesn't happen."
  • Me Too, With a Caveat  Goldberg's National Review colleague Daniel Foster tosses "five dollars or a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon" on the pile, with the addition of an adverb: "I'll bet that the Republicans will not unsuccessfully impeach Obama." Huh?
The question of the bet, I take it, is whether the Republicans will frivolously impeach the president. But I want insurance against some kind of Watergate-scale infraction that shocks the nation and obviously calls for dramatic action.
  • Could Obama Pull a Watergate?  Andy McCarthy joins the National Review debate by wondering what "Obama would have to do at this point to shock the nation."
  • Pros and Cons  Though House Republicans might "please their constituents" with an impeachment move, and "it's going to be open season for investigations," Politico's Ben Smith points out that "Republicans may recall that the Clinton impeachment worked out poorly."
  • Do We Have the Right Personalities for This?  "Neither John Boehner nor Eric Cantor are Gingrich-style bomb throwers," comments James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, and "Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton." True, he says: "American politics has become more absurd theater than rational debate," but all the same, "if the GOP is going to take down Obama, politically or legally, it's going to have to be something much more serious than what the Sean Hannity's of the world have been complaining about so far."