Silly season has started – and both parties are trying to fundraise off the fringe.

One-third of Americans now say that President Obama should be impeached,according to a CNN/ORC poll. This carries about as much constitutional weight as previous free-floating anxieties about the president being secretly Muslim, communist or born in Kenya.

The partisan breakdown of the Impeach Obama crowd is roughly what you’d expect.  Fifty-seven percent of Republicans say they support impeachment and thirty-five percent of independents, with a very-confused thirteen percent of Democrats bringing up the caboose.

But just because you’re a few beers short of a six-pack doesn’t mean you’re not somebody’s constituent - and so a small but determined band of dim-witted congressmen and conservative racketeers keep ratcheting up the impeachment rhetoric as a way of agitating the base ahead of the typically low-turnout, high-intensity, mid-term elections.

A brief history of how we got to an essentially absurd conversation about impeachment might be in order.  Impeachment is always the final fantasy for hyper-partisans who want to remove a president from office and such rumblings are routine in the darkest reaches of grassroots politics.

The spark that brought attention to this particular cycle came from reality TV star Sarah Palin, when she penned a column earlier this month declaring “Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘no mas.’”

Palin’s marching orders were followed briskly by right-wing talk radio hosts like Mark Levin. More conspiracy entrepreneurs then stepped in.  The Restore America PAC ran a few ads on cable TV seeking to raise money for the quixotic effort (though as with all PACs the money given out will be far-less than that pocketed by the people running it and their extended circle of consultants).

Even conservative candidates running in swing states, like Iowa’s GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst, started to feel obligated to play to the base on this new litmus test, with Ernst saying that Speaker Boehner “should proceed” with impeachment if he sees fit.

But Speaker Boehner wants no part in this political suicide march.  When asked about Palin’s call for impeachment, he dismissed her coolly.  His long-promised (but so far unspecified) effort to sue President Obama is seen as an effort to deflect impeachment calls while still harnessing conservative anger at what they see as President Obama’s executive office over-reach.  This past weekend, the newly minted House Majority Whip Steve Scalise repeatedly refused to say whether he supported impeachment efforts when grilled by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

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