Donald Wolfensberger at The Hill:

In 2008, David E. Kyvig, a professor of history at Northern Illinois University, published “The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture Since 1960.”  In his preface, Kyvig says the purpose of the book is to answer “why impeachment has been employed so often since 1961 as opposed to its infrequent use between 1789 and 1960.” He sees the episodes as interrelated, building on each other and serving as “a sort of canary in the mine shaft, an early signal of an increasingly toxic political culture.”


Kyvig was working on his book while a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in 2004-05 where I was then serving as director of The Congress Project. I remember expressing to David (who has since passed away) my skepticism about his thesis that impeachment was a surging wave of the future. After all, I said, up until that time only two presidents had been impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, and neither was convicted and removed from office by the Senate. President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office in 1974 saved him from that almost certain fate. Most House impeachments to date (17 of 21) have been of federal judges, as have all eight Senate convictions.


I have since eaten plenty of crow as Kyvig’s prescience has proven to be spot-on.  Not only was President Donald Trump impeached twice by the Democratic-controlled House, but now members of the House Republican Freedom Caucus are lining up at their leadership’s doorstep vying for first rights to initiate impeachment resolutions aimed at President Joe Biden and his Cabinet. The fierce competition for prime sponsorship resembles a bunch of kids begging to be “first thrower” in a school yard game of circle dodgeball: “Me, me, me.”