Boxer said Wednesday impeachment should be on the table.
NEW YORK (CNN) - You might call it the "i" word, the one that just won't go away: impeachment.
On Wednesday, the I-word came up for California Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer in an interview with talk radio’s Ed Schultz. When Schultz brought up the subject of impeachment, Boxer said “Look, I have always said it should be on the table” and called the Bush administration “as close as we've ever come to a dictatorship.”
Is impeachment really on the table? Democratic leaders say no and no.
Last November, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that even with Democrats winning control of Congress, “impeachment is off the table.” And her office reiterated that to CNN this week.
Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said, "It's not anything that Senator Reid could support, nor is it under consideration."
So if congressional leaders say impeachment proceedings will not happen under their watch, why bring it up?
CNN Political Editor Mark Preston says the rhetoric over impeachment is “red meat” meant to appease the Democratic base, which is frustrated with the war in Iraq. But talk is just talk, and political observers say that actually trying to impeach the president would be a bad move strategically. As Preston explains it, impeaching the president would actually hurt Democrats in their pursuit of the White House in 2008. “They would look partisan,” says Preston. “They would look petty.”
- CNN Producer Shirley Zilberstein