U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s remarks at a town hall last week that President Barack Obama was getting “perilously close” to committing an impeachable offense shows just how radical and bizarre the right-wing has become in the last two decades or so.
That the right-wing political establishment is made up of pandering extremists playing to a declining, myopic, ill-informed voter base is nothing necessarily new to some people, but Coburn’s comments do add a new dimension to the lunacy here in ultra-conservative Oklahoma.
The corporate media here, especially the editorial page of The Oklahoman, often tries to depict Coburn as a wise, prudent statesman with a bi-partisan interest in fiscal matters, but it’s a characterization I’ve never accepted about him. Coburn remains a right-wing extremist, perfectly capable of discarding facts whenever necessary to foment voter anger and scare people. His impeachment comments are untruthful and irresponsible, and he should retract them.
For the record, Obama has done nothing at all that would indicate he is close to committing “high crimes and misdemeanors” that are necessary for an impeachment. Coburn backed his “perilously close” statement with only generic language. “I think there’s some intended violation of law in this administration, but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence,” he said. No local media outlet to my knowledge challenged Coburn by asking for specific evidence. That’s fairly typical here.
Coburn, who made the comments in Muskogee Wednesday, was just one of several congressional Republicans who have raised the impeachment issue this month, and not one of them has offered a legitimate reason. As Jonathan Bernstein, writing in Salon.com, puts it:
None of these politicians seem to feel any need to actually discuss the grounds for impeachment. At best there’s some hand-waving around the minor scandals of the last year, but for the most part it’s just assumed that impeachment is what Republicans normally do to Democratic presidents, just because.
Coburn also called Obama a “friend,” but that also seems nonsensical at this point, another myth that goes along with the fictional media characterization of him as the wise statesman above the fray of mean-spirited politics. “Can you imagine how he treats people who aren’t his friends?” asked David Axelrod, a former advisor to Obama, in response to Coburn’s comments. Axelrod also said, “It’s plainly absurd, but it’s worse than absurd. On this, I think [Coburn] was way out of bounds.”
Coburn has a history of absurd comments. He once said Obama “actually believes in socialism” and warned against growing lesbianism in southeastern Oklahoma school. His consistent, reckless comments undercut his fictional image in the state media.