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GOP Candidate Ernst Backtracks: Obama Not A ‘Dictator’ Who Should Be Impeached

Memo Pad Politics

GOP Candidate Ernst Backtracks: Obama Not A ‘Dictator’ Who Should Be Impeached


State Senator Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, is backtracking from her claim that President Barack Obama has “become a dictator” who should be removed from office.

On Tuesday, Yahoo! News reported that Ernst called for Obama’s impeachment at a Montgomery County GOP forum in January. After being asked what “punishment” the president should suffer if the Supreme Court ruled against him in a case on the constitutionality of his recess appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Ersnt gave the following answer:

“I do think that yes, he should face those repercussions, and whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment,” said Ernst, who is supported by the establishment and the Tea Party wings of her party in her quest to succeed retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat.

“As a U.S. senator, though, we have to push that issue, we can’t be silent on things like that,” she said. “And unfortunately we have a number of legislators right now that simply let these things happen. They’re not speaking up against these actions. They’re not speaking out against the president when he oversteps his bounds, when he makes those appointments, when he’s appointing czars, when he is producing executive orders in a threat to a Congress that won’t do as he wishes. So he has become a dictator.”

Continued Ernst: “He is running amok. He is not following our Constitution, and unfortunately we have leaders who are not serving as leaders right now, they’re not defending the Constitution and they’re not defending you and me.”

After her comments attracted a media frenzy, Ernst — who is currently locked in a tight Senate race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley — attempted to walk back her attacks.

“I was asked a question involving a hypothetical about what I thought should happen if the Supreme Court ruled that the president had committed an ‘abuse of power.’ Obviously if the Supreme Court were to ever rule that the President of the United States had abused their power, that would be a very serious charge,” Ernst said in a statement, as reported by Talking Points Memo. “I responded by saying that if the court in fact made such a ruling, that the president should face the necessary repercussions. I would give the same answer about any president, Republican or Democrat.”

“To be clear, I have not seen any evidence that the president should be impeached,” she continued. “I obviously do not believe the president is a dictator, but his repeated use of unilateral action sure makes him look like one.”

It’s unclear what exactly caused Ernst’s change of heart. After all, the “hypothetical” question to which she was responding has been answered — and the Supreme Court ruled against the president. Additionally, Ernst gave no explanation for how she got from “he has become a dictator” to “I obviously do not believe the president is a dictator.”

In any case, Ernst’s rapid reversal illustrates the danger that impeachment poses for Republicans, who have not forgotten the political damage that their quest to impeach Bill Clinton did to their party. That even Ernst — who has been strongly endorsed by Sarah Palin, who is now openly calling for President Obama to be removed from office — refuses to engage with the topic shows how politically fraught it is.

Whether Palin — who has insisted that “we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment” — will now walk back her endorsement of Ernst remains to be seen.

Photo: Monica de Argentina via Flickr

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Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. Sand_Cat July 9, 2014

    Another neo-Nazi with no respect or affection for ordinary people tries to “walk back” a rare moment of honesty.

    1. Independent1 July 9, 2014

      Sandy, when are these wacko conservatives going to wake up to how ridiculous they look; and that includes Boehner, in even suggesting that Obama is overstepping his presidential authority when he has signed only 167 Executive Orders; when virtually every GOP president in office since 1900 had issued far, far more EOs (some well over 1,000) except for Bush Sr who signed just a few less in just 4 years.

    2. kenyattagward July 10, 2014

      just before I looked at the receipt ov $8130 , I
      didn’t believe that my sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
      there pretty old laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this 4 only
      about 22 months and at present repayed the mortgage on their appartment and
      bought themselves a Chrysler . see here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

    3. FT66 July 10, 2014

      They never think first before opening up their mouths. Thats why they keep on walking back from what they say at the first place.

      1. Allan Richardson July 10, 2014

        No, it’s a deliberate strategy. Ever see a Perry Mason or other courtroom drama, in which a lawyer asks a witness a question to which the other lawyer objects? The judge rules against the first lawyer, and instructs the jury to “disregard” the question and any attempt at an answer. But can a juror REALLY “disregard” an unexpected piece of information that he/she was not “supposed to know?” Not totally, so the lawyer got the desired point into the minds of the jury, even though it was not “legally relevant” to the case.

        Right wingnuts DELIBERATELY do something similar. They “blurt out” the extreme statement, knowing it will be circulated among their base. Then, if the “lamestream” media as they call it (from a liberal point of view, that might be a good description of them) pick it up and object, they pretend to take it back or explain it away. An example is found in the post-Tucson web pages showing targets on Democratic districts, along with right wing rhetoric implying that if they didn’t get voted in, they would resort to the “Second Amendment solution.” Then they publicly backed off, saying the targets were symbolic of targeting electoral efforts, and claiming that the “Second Amendment” solution didn’t really mean aiming guns at Democrats (but how else would using the Second Amendment affect who is in power and who is not, if not by assassinating someone?), so they kept the pretense of being “reasonable” while their base got the REAL message loud and clear.

  2. itsfun July 10, 2014

    She sounds like a typical gutless politician. She believes one thing when the polls say its ok, then changes her mind when the polls don’t say its ok. We elect people to represent us, but they only represent what their political party tells them to represent. Amazing how every elected democrat and republican agrees completely with what the party tells to agree with. Of course they all deny this, but they are all voting according to party lines in Washington. Until our elected officials start to represent the folks that elect them, we will continue to get nothing done in Washington. Of course that may be a good thing. We have enough tax and regulation already.

    1. ps0rjl July 10, 2014

      No it is not a good thing that nothing gets done in Washington. We elect people to do the job of running the government and currently they are not doing it. We need to get back to a functioning congress. They need to get rid of the new filibuster rule and instead of just voting to filibuster if they want to filibuster, they need to just stand up and start talking. This will get rid of the need for a super majority to pass bills. Also they need to relearn to compromise. Nobody gets everything but at least our government will start functioning again.

    2. charleo1 July 10, 2014

      Well, there the Party line, and then there’s the truth. Here the truth is
      on the side of the President, until such time as his actions come to anything resembling the accusations. Or, as far as that goes, to resembling anything close to the actions of previous Presidents. Some of whom did actually do things that might be construed to resemble some of the most egregious charges now being hurled all over the place, at Obama. But were never sued, or called up for impeachment. Clinton’s lying about his illicit B.J. notwithstanding. The charges themselves, almost always made without any specific, accompanying subject, or proof at all. Their level falling somewhere between, your Mama wears Army boots, and Mikey is a sissy. In other words, just something some on the Right like to hear their politicians say, and will send them money for doing so. By the way, since when does a President, running afoul of a technicality, making recess appointments improperly, constitute, or come close to constituting, an Emperor, or a Dictator, or a Saul Alanski Radical?
      Or, an undocumented Manchurian Candidate, who is actually a Kenyan, Anti-Colonist? Who refuses to salute the Flag, or banned
      Christian Funerals for returning war dead, and is taking down crosses
      at Arlington, (no crosses at Arlington) and dozens, and dozens, and dozens more! And we’re supposed to take this all seriously, or else we’re just a bunch of blind Sheeple, devoted to our, “Mesiah?”
      Sure, whatever.

  3. jakenhyde July 10, 2014

    Maybe Joni could find a few more pigs to castrate. That might help her to make up her pathetic mind.

    1. Allan Richardson July 10, 2014

      Good therapy for her, if not for the pigs.

    2. stcroixcarp July 10, 2014

      Would Karl Rove qualify?

      1. jakenhyde July 10, 2014

        He DOES look quite like a little piggy.

    3. George July 11, 2014

      Wonder if she eats them too. Maybe raw?

  4. Bud Friend July 10, 2014

    Do your homework when it comes to executive orders from presidents.

    Why ask for permission, when you know the answer. It’s better to DO SOMETHING and maybe get sued.

  5. Dominick Vila July 10, 2014

    Only those who have never lived in countries ruled by dictators can accuse President Obama, or any former U.S. President of being a dictator. A dictator would have had the man who called him a liar during a SOTU address shot. A dictator would have had those who opposed his policies imprisoned. A dictator would not have allowed people to voice opposition to his policies, reject his decisions, or voice the slightest criticism. The hyperbole used by some Republicans to demonize a man they hate makes them look like a bunch of desperate idiots, devoid of powerful arguments to advance their ideology and vision.
    A timely example of the dichotomy that characterizes Republican discourse, the actions they take, and their expectations involves their opposition to the current immigration humanitarian crisis, their claims that President Obama, the man that has been calling for immigration reform, is doing nothing to solve the problem, and blaming his administration for not deporting the Central American women and children immediately.
    What the idiots don’t seem to know, or prefer to ignore, is President Reagan’s precedent (amnesty and granting asylum to Cubans the moment they set foot on U.S. soil), and the immigration reform law signed by President Bush in 2008, which require the processing and placement of “illegal” immigrants from non-contiguous countries.
    First they accuse President Obama of dictatorial powers, and when faced with an issue abhorrent to them, they criticize him for abiding by a law and a precedent established by Republicans. Their stupidity – or hatred – doesn’t get any better than this.

  6. browninghipower July 10, 2014

    It’s been obvious to me for a long time, but especially since 2010 that the gop has one primary directive…lie. Just fucking lie. Say shit; smear anyone; say anything; and then when caught, lie about it. Say you didn’t mean it; say you didn’t say it. Remember how 2010 was all about JOBS JOBS JOBS. And then at the State and Congressional levels all they did was pursue a relentless path of economic and cultural warfare and did absolutely nothing about job creation, infrastructure repair, or anything. They lied and lied and lied. And then tried to blame Obama. I despise the gop and their religious fascist gang of pigs.

  7. highpckts July 10, 2014

    WHY are they always backtracking?? Do they not stand behind their remarks? Lack of conviction or what? As soon as they are called out they back off! I certainly don’t want anyone in office who can’t stand by his beliefs! Right or wrong they said it so stick to it!! Cowards!

    1. Allan Richardson July 10, 2014

      My earlier post explains it. Search the web page for “Perry Mason.”

  8. terry b July 10, 2014

    Bet way to prove that any politician is a good one is to have Sarah Palin attack you. Her stupidity is known worldwide. Her lack of knowledge appeals to only the mentally challenged fans that she has.

  9. Kansan July 10, 2014

    Caribou Barbie will do whatever will net her the most money.

  10. stcroixcarp July 10, 2014

    I cannot imagine why any man (or woman) would vote for this lady hog castrater. She is not stupid, but very calculating. She chose her words carefully the first time.and she meant every word. She needs to have her words define her.

  11. FAMULLAR July 11, 2014

    READ ON Days after Europe’s highest court said people could asksearch engines to remove some links about themselves, Andy Donaldson started to receive phone calls.

    Donaldson’s British company, Hit Search, had previously created a service for companies and individuals to monitor how and where they were mentioned across the internet. Now, the callers wanted to know how they could take advantage of the court’s unexpected decision. And Hit Search – like a growing number of European companies – suddenly saw the potential to profit from Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling.

    “It’s a whole new business opportunity for us,” said Donaldson, a director at the company. “People want to protect how they appear in search results.” He said prices start at £50, or $85, a month to monitor how often someone is mentioned online and request that links be removed.

    1. Sand_Cat July 15, 2014

      Very cogent comment on the article in question.

  12. FAMULLAR July 11, 2014

    1British Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled emergency legislation Thursday to compel phone companies and Internet providers to store their customers’ records, arguing that data needed to track down criminals and terrorists could otherwise be deleted.

    2The British move comes three months after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that forcing communications companies to keep records of their customers’ calls and Internet use violated rights to privacy and protection of personal data.

    3The ruling dealt a blow to security services by invalidating the legal basis under which they have scooped up phone logs and records of e-mail traffic. Cameron said Thursday that without new legislation, law enforcement efforts would be severely compromised because communications companies could start deleting data within weeks, unless they had a business reason to keep it.

  13. howa4x July 11, 2014

    I think Obama is praying everyday that the republicans of the do nothing congress impeach him. Although congress hasn’t passed one bill in a number of years I’m sure the country side with the president who wants to improve their lives. Ernst is finding out how hot the media glare is when she makes statements like this. Maybe she should spend a summer in a country like Syria where a dictator really lives so she can do an accurate analysis, or read a dictionary.


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