I've been writing about possible impeachment for a long time, and I said back in 2009 that "If Republicans take back the House, the odds are very good that they will impeach Barack Obama. "
Here's the thing, though. For all the impeachment talk -- and it's been a constant beginning just a few months into Obama's first term -- the House hasn't actually done anything remotely like that.
I think I was wrong, and I think the chances of a spurious impeachment are a lot lower than I thought, and a lot lower than a lot of liberal bloggers now think (see Jamelle Bouie today, for example).
Two things. One is that I think Republicans, or at least the Republicans in House leadership, really have learned a lesson from the Bill Clinton impeachment. The question, really is which lesson they learned. There's the one from 1998 and 1999 -- spurious impeachment helps the president and hurts the other party. And then there's the one from 2000 -- spurious impeachment, whatever the apparent immediate effect, helps the out-party eventually. I'm fairly confident that John Boehner learned the first of those, which is also (for whatever it's worth) far more likely to actually be true.
The second is that I'm not really sure that the incentives run towards impeachment, anyway. I thought they did...now, I'm not so sure. Scandal-mongering, obviously, is very lucrative within the conservative marketplace, and works well for Members of Congress who seek publicity (that's nothing new, of course). But it's not entirely clear to me that actually moving towards impeachment does anything great for most House Republicans. Among other things, and assuming they're not going to start impeaching Obama as often as they vote to repeal Obamacare, actually finishing an impeachment presumably ends whatever scandal they are mongering. It might be better to just keep the witch-hunt going.
On the other hand, it's certainly possible that the thing develops its own momentum and becomes difficult for them to stop...House Republicans aren't exactly known for resisting the more crazy impulses of talk radio hosts. Still, on balance I think the final word on this is likely to be John Boehner's demonstrated ability in guiding House Republicans past their worst self-destructive instincts. Would it shock me if there's a spurious impeachment? No. And I certainly expect impeachment talk to continue, whether or not there's any actual evidence of administration malfeasance. But overall, I think I've overstated the chances of the House really going through with it.