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Iowa GOP Senate Candidate: Only Reason Obama Isn’t Being Impeached Is Because He’s Black

Facepalm

Today’s edition of What Are Republican Candidates For Office Thinking? comes out of the Hawkeye State:

Republican Iowa Senate candidate Sam Clovis says President Obama’s race is standing in the GOP’s way in their goal to impeach him.

A number of people in the House want to start the process, he said in an interview with The Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa.

“And I think the reason that they’re not is because they’re concerned about the media,” he said.

The impeachment of former President Bill Clinton didn’t end well, Clovis added.

“Now we have a situation where race is thrown into the cards as well,” Clovis said. “Whether we like it or not, race is an issue.”

To be fair, Cloivs is one candidate in a crowded field for the GOP nomination and, at least according to current polling, unlikely to win the nomination. Nonetheless, he’s a reflection of something I’ve noticed about the hardcore GOP base for awhile now, namely the fact that for them the impeachment of Barack Obama is something that is not only called for, but something that should have happened years ago. Would Congressional Republicans bow to this pressure if they retake the Senate next year? I have a hard time seeing it, in no small part because the GOP leadership in the House and Senate isn’t nearly as nuts as the base. Additionally, it’s blindingly obvious that any effort by the House to impeach the President would end in failure in the Senate just as it did with President Clinton and President Andrew Johnson. Nonetheless, crazier things have happened and one can’t predict what might happen during what is likely to be the hyper-partisan time between the midterms and the Presidential election is anyone’s guess.

The other aspect to these comments, of course, is race. While I would reject any assertion that opposition to President Obama is racially motivated, as well as any suggestion that the majority of conservatives who speak out against the President are motivated by racial animus, it’s hard to deny the role that race has played in at least some of the anti-Obama rhetoric we have seen over the past five years. Some of you may remember the email that circulated shortly after the President was elected in 2008 that depicted a graphic of the White House with watermelons growing on the lawn and laundry hanging from the trees while the theme from The Jeffersons played in the background. And that was probably among the milder of the racially tinged messages that were circulated and, in some cases, continue to be circulated. In addition to jokes, of course, there was the entire birther movement and the persistent claims, mostly by self-identified conservatives, that the President was a “secret Muslim” notwithstanding his own repeated invocations of his Christian faith. Those types of memes were obviously motivated by racial animus. On some level, I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised by any of that, and indeed it seems as though the President himself at least anticipated some of those reactions before he even announced he was running for President, however it’s depressing nonetheless when it is confirmed openly that racism is still alive and well in the hearts of far too many people.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    This is a good time to show you (and the commenters at OTB who claim almost all Republicans are motivated by racial animus) Jonathan Chait’s piece on how race has shaped support for and opposition to Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. ernieyeball says:

    While I would reject any assertion that opposition to President Obama is racially motivated,..

    ..it’s depressing nonetheless when it is confirmed openly that racism is still alive and well in the hearts of far too many people.

    “far too many people” yet opposition to President Obama is not racially motivated…????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. legion says:

    It’s kinda funny – and by funny, I mean sad and pathetic – because the reason they _want_ to impeach him is because he’s black… and a Democrat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    Between the debate Chait had with the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates…and this latest piece…which I gather was written before said debate…I’m guessing that deep down Chait wishes he’d never waded into these waters.
    If ever there was a nominee for “Both Sides Do It”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  5. KM says:

    *SMH* You know, everything I try to talk politics with my conservative friends, they are so quick to point out they (and their party) are not racist and are good people, most cons don’t deserve the accusation and that it’s just a few bad apples. My follow-up is how many apples does it take to spoil the bunch? Answer: one if you don’t excise it and it has the chance to spread its rot. A good apple gets blight on its skin and it’s done.

    People see this crap. Its out there and now you have to defend against it. This is not sporadic – this is endemic. Your average Republican has a choice. Don’t want the association and taint of racism? Get rid of the racists. Don’t want people thinking you’re the Party of Bigots? Send ‘em packing. This is so incredibly simple folks: you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Stop lamenting and clean house already.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  6. ernieyeball says:

    Today’s edition of What Are Republican Candidates For Office Thinking?

    Since I am not a mind reader this is just a guess…Sam Clovis is thinking that his remarks will appeal to the bigots in Iowa.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Rob in CT says:

    The idea that his blackness helps him instead of hurts him is A Thing on the Right, I’ve noticed.

    It’s funny, Obama recently gave an interview during which he basically said it was a double-edged sword – that his race hurt him with some folks and helped him with others. I saw the quote, cut off to leave out the bit about it sometimes helping him, splashed all over RW media (which is essentially a grievance delivery machine).

    It’s utterly obvious that his race alters people’s perception of him. Some folks are more inclined to cut him slack, and some have the opposite reaction. I’ve no idea what the net of those two things works out to be.

    There’s also the old debate about how much is race and how much is his Party affiliation/politics (Chait gets into this re: Clinton). But here’s the thing: Democrat has been coded as “giving [your!] stuff to Them” by the Right for so long that it’s not separable anymore.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  8. Rob in CT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Seriously. I thought Chait did ok in some of his blog posts in response to Coates, but that article is not at all his strongest work.

    The whole Chait/Coates disagreement was a little odd to me. Chait seemed to want to make a narrow point (or at least that’s how I read his first blog post on the topic), but Coates wasn’t having it, and expanded things greatly. Having read and considered it all, I think Coates had to do so in order to fully back up his position (basically his apparent pessimism or fatalism). And he did so powerfully. Chait and many others – myself included – really need to believe in progress. Chait thought Coates had given up on that. I don’t think he has, really. I think he’s given up childish hope and taken in a more realistic (if depressing!) view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. Tillman says:

    @Rob in CT: I think Coates made powerful arguments that nonetheless had holes in them, and Chait pointed a few out. Coates “won” if that’s how you score a debate.

    For example, Coates made great points about cultures “of poverty” (he ended up dismantling the idea later if I recall) versus white supremacy, and then Chait showed that quote from an earlier Coates post about how he felt like he was going to respond to someone in a different setting like how he would in the street. Coates’s response wasn’t convincing, mostly ’cause I thought it moved the goalposts a bit by asserting it wasn’t the culture but how he moved within different cultures. Which somewhat reinforced Chait’s original point about the culture limiting black advancement in a way.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully on-board with white supremacy being the great modern evil that has kept the black man down. Chait was dead wrong to minimize it. There’s office buildings full of documentation to that effect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. C. Clavin says:

    If I had a chance to talk to Sam Clovis my first question wouldn’t be about race, but about what he thinks are the impeachable offenses committed by Obama.

    But then there is good ol’ Pat Robertson playing the Muslim card.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dDB1SKgs8Y

    No racism there…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. C. Clavin says:
  12. Rob in CT says:

    BY the way, Cliff, I don’t think Chait regrets it at all:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/04/obama-racism-and-the-presumption-of-innocence.html

    @Tillman:

    I decided, before Coates essentially said the same thing, that this wasn’t to be scored. I think they both made good points. I agree with you that Coates seemed stronger overall, but I too saw some “moving the goalposts.” I thought about it for a while and decided that maybe the goalposts needed moving…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. al-Ameda says:

    Republican Iowa Senate candidate Sam Clovis says President Obama’s race is standing in the GOP’s way in their goal to impeach him.

    A number of people in the House want to start the process, he said in an interview with The Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa.

    “And I think the reason that they’re not is because they’re concerned about the media,” he said.

    The impeachment of former President Bill Clinton didn’t end well, Clovis added.

    “Now we have a situation where race is thrown into the cards as well,” Clovis said. “Whether we like it or not, race is an issue.”

    Who knew that being Black was such an advantage? Honestly, are we positive that Sam Clovis doesn’t work for Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. gVOR08 says:

    First, my usual questions – Where do Republicans find these people? And why?

    Second, what @ernieyeball: said. I would have been seriously upset by,

    While I would reject any assertion that opposition to President Obama is racially motivated,..

    had you not followed up with proof to the contrary. I don’t think anyone claims it’s totally race, but to claim it’s not race at all seems impossibly naive.

    Third – I’ve never met a conservative who though himself racist or motivated by race. Self awareness obviously isn’t a front line skill on the right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. Tillman says:

    @gVOR08:

    I don’t think anyone claims it’s totally race, but to claim it’s not race at all seems impossibly naive.

    Third – I’ve never met a conservative who though himself racist or motivated by race. Self awareness obviously isn’t a front line skill on the right.

    That’s what I like about the Chait piece. He shows how there’s clearly a basis for how conservative positions can be attributed to racial animus – the famous Lee Atwater interview is brought up, where he goes from “nigger, nigger” to “let’s lower taxes on the rich” – but that it is unfair of liberals to accuse every conservative thereafter of being racist for advocating those policies. The best you can accuse them of is ignorance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Tillman says:

    Comment awaiting moderation, for not properly censoring n*****, if I had to guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Well if nothing else he’s probably getting a lot of page-views.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. wr says:

    @gVOR08: ” I’ve never met a conservative who though himself racist or motivated by race. ”

    I’ve never met a person who considered him or herself a bad driver or bad parent, and yet the world continues to suffer car crashes and screwed up kids…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. stonetools says:

    I thinkl the basic idea behind the Tea Party opposition is that Barack Obama CAN’T be a legitimate President because no black man can be. It’s why Republicans are convinced that voter fraud is a massive and ongoing problem. How could a black man possibly win a presedential election without large scale voter fraud? It also explains the birther movement.Clovis is simply voicing the viewpoint of many ofhis constituents.
    Doug’s contradictory statement about opposition to Obama not motivated by racism reflects the ambivalence of elitist opposition to Obama. On one hand they want to say that the oppose Obama on the issues. OTOH, they recognize that the opposition of much of the base is based simply on racism. At least Doug doesn’t deny or minmize this like many conservatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. C. Clavin says:

    Looks like Iowa has gone kooky across the board…
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/bob-quast-got-balls-glock

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Surreal American says:

    @C. Clavin:

    So many double entendre possibilities, so little time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. James Pearce says:

    Would Congressional Republicans bow to this pressure if they retake the Senate next year? I have a hard time seeing it, in no small part because the GOP leadership in the House and Senate isn’t nearly as nuts as the base. A

    This so soon after the “Obamacare shutdown?”

    We’re about 15 years into the modern Republican party’s “couldn’t resist” phase. I trust a poorly trained dog not to gulp down a treat sitting on its nose more than I trust the better angels of the Republican party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Tillman says:

    @James Pearce: It’s true Clinton was acquitted by a GOP Senate (with some Senators defecting from their party to acquit). Maybe I’m falling victim to apocalyptic thinking, but I don’t see that happening again if they decide to honestly impeach him.

    That, and Doug has it here: the leadership saw what happened with the Obamacare shutdown, they’re not going to risk the political backlash of impeaching Obama. You can spin a shutdown (you won’t convince anyone but you can still try), you can’t spin impeachment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. James Pearce says:

    @Tillman:

    It’s true Clinton was acquitted by a GOP Senate (with some Senators defecting from their party to acquit).

    Hmmm….this gives too much credit to the defectors, I think. Only five Republicans voted to acquit. The other 50 voted guilty on at least one charge, and 45 of them voted guilty on both charges.

    So yes, Clinton was acquitted. It was a GOP Senate. But 4/5ths of the caucus voted to convict. And Olympia Snow isn’t in office anymore.

    As for the leadership and the shutdown backlash…..it’s been pretty much revealed that Boehner thought “shutdown” was a losing strategy and he went along with it anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. Woody says:

    @stonetools:

    I tend to distrust monolithic visions when it comes to large groups of diverse people (this is true of self-identified Republicans, just like self-identified Democrats, et al). However, I think there’s been a confluence of opportunity since Nixon and the “southern strategy” that different groups within a larger whole find their own reasons for “climbing aboard” a policy.

    Take the various schemes GOP states have implemented to, ahem, rid the Republic of voter fraud. The great majority of their policies are directed at poor and/or non-white Americans. Some Republicans get their preferences due to electoral advantage. Some Republicans get their preferences due to supporting the GOP and gaining preferential policy. And some Republicans get their preferences against certain groups’ pretensions to equality enacted into law. They all get what they want through corporate groupthink and Orwellian Newspeak.

    We’ve gone from Nixon to Rumsfeld as the conservative’s political prophet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: The only things that will prevent them from impeaching are the impossibility of getting 2/3 in the Senate and the impossibility of writing articles of impeachment that can be presented with a straight face and argued on TV without looking stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08: I think we’ll just have to assume that if there’s a Democrat in the White House, Republican Congressman will openly muse about impeaching him/her for the “high crime” of…..being a Democrat in the White House.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. Moosebreath says:

    @Tillman:

    “It’s true Clinton was acquitted by a GOP Senate (with some Senators defecting from their party to acquit). Maybe I’m falling victim to apocalyptic thinking, but I don’t see that happening again if they decide to honestly impeach him.”

    It takes 2/3rds of the Senate to convict the President. I doubt there are going to be that many GOP Senators, no matter how bad this fall’s elections end up being.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Moosebreath: Do you think the folks screaming impeachment are aware of that? It would take more alertness than they’ve displayed so far. Doug may think it’s “blindingly obvious” that impeachment wouldn’t succeed even if the Republicans take back the Senate so they won’t bother, but I not only doubt the hard-core Republican base is aware of the 2/3rd requirement, I doubt many Republicans currently in Congress know it either!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. anjin-san says:

    I don’t think actual impeachment is the point of any of this. It’s about adding “this lawless President SHOULD be impeached. Of course he should, everyone knows that” to the endless other nonsense memes. Socialist, Kenyan, Muslim, hates America, and so on.

    It’s designed to drive eyeballs to right wing media outlets and contributions to right wing candidates. The machine runs on rage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  31. Robin Cohen says:

    Since it appears that the primitive radar/GPS facilities of Malaysia and Malaysian Air Lines are responsible for the inability to track MH370 effectively, let them reimburse all other nations for the cost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0