“Congress must step up and hold him accountable. Impeachment would also pose a credible threat to any future president by sending a clear message that the American people simply will not stand for having a king. If we do nothing, that threat is lost.” — CapitalismInstitute.org
The legal case for impeachment against President Obama is much stronger — both in terms of number of offenses and the severity of many of them — than it was against either President Johnson or President Clinton. It is even stronger than it was against President Nixon, who resigned before impeachment proceedings could begin, and most felt that he would surely be convicted. (And, as has been pointed out by others, no one died as a result of Nixon’s impeachable actions, unlike the consequences of some of Obama’s offensive acts.) Unfortunately, the decision of whether or not to impeach cannot be made simply on the existence of a legal case for it, even a strong one. That is, it isn’t merely about justice. There are practical considerations, as well. This is what I brought up in the second question from Part 1:
2) Assuming there is a [legal] case, from a pragmatic sense, would it be a good idea (i.e., in the country’s best interest) to proceed with impeachment, in regards to costs, competing issues & responsibilities of the parties that would be involved, and the consequences of potentially removing Obama from office?
I believe the answer to this one is also “Yes.” I understand the concerns some people would have (or, at least, claim to have) about impeachment proceedings costing a lot of Congress’s time and taxpayer money. But, contrary to some issues that our leaders in Washington deal with, the matter of the rampant lawlessness that characterizes the Obama administration is incredibly serious and, I believe, well worth the effort. Plus, a lot of the investigation has already been and is being done on those issues that are likely to be included in articles of impeachment. (As I understand it, articles have already been submitted by one or more Representatives to the House Judiciary Committee, but they have not been formally accepted and could probably be replaced.) I also have no doubt that Congress could handle the additional item on their plate, so to speak. Other Congresses have managed. Besides, maybe it will force them to better prioritize their corporate schedule and work agenda.
What might some of those consequences be for giving Obama the boot? The big one that people tend to bring up, usually with a chuckle, is something along the lines of, “Do we really want a ‘President Joe Biden’?” They do have a point, especially with his recurring, big-mouthed gaffes. (See this past week, for example.) But, I’m not sure Biden would be quite as bad as we think. I’m not saying he would be great, but I don’t think he would be any worse than Obama. Biden is a cagey, political animal, who has survived in Washington for over four decades. Plus, he is not nearly the radical ideologue that Obama is. I think he would rule as much more of a centrist, like Bill Clinton. Hopefully, once he had the weight of the Oval Office on his shoulders, he would be a bit more circumspect and cautious about his public utterances, too. (Still, his “handlers” better be on their toes!) From a strategic standpoint, Biden would also be wise to do his best to distance himself from Obama, including avoiding doing the sorts of things that got his then-predecessor in so much trouble — especially if he has any plans of running for President in 2016 or 2020.
“The need for impeachment has little to do with Obama (other than he has, up to now, been the worst offender). It is all about protecting what remains of the Rule of Law and The Constitution. Not impeaching Obama just provides a green light for future presidents to further corrupt the laws of the country and the office of the presidency…. A line in the sand must be drawn that says to successors where they dare not go.” — “Monty Pelerin”, blogger at economicnoise.com
The main, positive outcome of kicking Obama out of office — other than the obvious — is that “We the People” and the legislative branch will have a) finally put a stop to Obama’s lawless, imperialistic reign, and b) we will have done so constitutionally, without violence or military coup. We will have drawn that line in the sand, as the above quote put it. It never should have gotten this far, but at least we will have reminded this generation and those to come that America ultimately will not countenance the sort of tyranny that Obama has been exercising, nor the lies and deception that have accompanied it. We must retain the Rule of Law.
This actually leads into the 3rd question I posed in Part 1:
3) Assuming there is a [legal] case, but consensus opinion beforehand — i.e., among the expert legal minds, political scientists and strategists — is that Obama nevertheless might not be found guilty and removed from office, would the exercise of initiating impeachment proceedings against the President still be worth it on principle, for morale, and for history’s sake?
I absolutely believe that it is valuable to construct and discuss the legal case for impeachment, even if proceedings are never carried out. It is worthwhile, because it highlights the lawlessness of the Obama administration, raising the public consciousness about the damage that it has done and continues to perpetrate on this nation. This is precisely why McCarthy wrote Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obamas Impeachment.
“[The purpose] is to persuade the public that when a president betrays his basic constitutional obligations, when the laws are not executed faithfully, all of us are threatened.”
However, the question is really about whether or not Congress should still go through the motions, if/when the odds are not strongly in favor of conviction. In the weeks that I have been researching this series and mulling it all over, I have been somewhat ambivalent on this one. But, when it comes down to it, I’m going to have to say “No.” Simply moving forward with impeachment “on principle”, especially if conviction is deemed nigh-impossible, would seem to be at best a pointless distraction and at worst a counterproductive mess that could backfire in our faces. That is, an acquittal might very well be interpreted (however inaccurately) as congressional approval of Obama’s actions. This would be exactly the wrong message to send to the American public, the Obama administration, or the international community.
“Republicans should drop the talk of impeachment. For the GOP would gain nothing and risk everything if the people began to take seriously their threats to do to Barack Obama what Newt Gingrich’s House did to Bill Clinton…. Any Republican attempt at impeachment would go up against a stacked deck. And the GOP would be throwing away a winning hand for a losing one.” — Pat Buchanan, conservative commentator and columnist at WND
So, it comes down to this final question, which is what everyone wants to know:
4) Should Congress impeach President Obama?
Several reasons have been given — by those on the political right, as well as others presumably attempting to be as objective as possible — for why impeaching Obama would be a bad idea for the GOP and conservatives, even if conviction was likely. Heck, some (like Buchanan above) don’t think we should even be talking about it. These are the reasons I came across:
o It would be seen as racist
o It would send the wrong message to our children
o It would rile up the Dems and could motivate their base to come out and vote
o It would turn off some of the independents who are right now leaning our way
o There are much more important things for Congress and the nation to be concerned about
o Nothing to truly gain from it
o There are better ways to rein Obama in
o Failure would be “incredibly damaging and embarrassing to the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”
Here are my brief responses: The racism charge is constant and a given, regardless of what we do or don’t do. The “message to our children” concern works both ways. The riling up of the Democrats has already happened, and they are indeed using the idea of possible impeachment in fundraising efforts — and quite successfully. The one about offending right-leaning Independents might be true… not sure. (Are the numbers significant enough to be a concern?) I have already addressed the one about Congress. I’m not so sure there would truly be “nothing” to gain even from a doomed-to-failure attempt, since we would at least have made a valiant effort in standing up for our principles and against tyranny. (Obviously, a conviction would be much more beneficial.) There surely are other ways to rein Obama in, or at least slow him down (e.g., refusing to support his policies with funding; lawsuits; legislation), though “better” is a judgement call. I’ll say more about that later.
The last one is the most worrisome on the list, which I discussed when answering Question #3. As one Congressman said, “What message do we send to America if we impeach Obama and he gets away with what he’s impeached for and he is found innocent? What then do we say is OK?” It could be seen as a major blow against small government, separation of powers with checks and balances, Rule of Law (beginning with the U.S. Constitution), and everything else that Obama has attacked. But, we still haven’t addressed the biggest reason not to impeach, which is that we’ll never get a conviction. Not now. If we tried, it would indeed be doomed to failure.
Don’t get me wrong. As you know by now, I really want to see Obama brought to account for everything he has done to this nation and its people, beginning (but not ending) with formal impeachment and removal from office. But, I reluctantly must agree with Sen. McCain, Andrew McCarthy, et al., that to attempt to do so now would be a counterproductive waste of time. In other words (and with apologies to George H.W. Bush), “Wouldn’t be prudent. Not at this juncture.”
But, you say, how can that be? Look at all of the scandals and other offenses you listed out in Part 2 and the case you just made for impeachment in Part 3! Even some liberal law professors and mainstream journalists are admitting Obama’s failures and abuses! Plus, his popularity poll numbers are plummeting, and many Democrats up for (re-)election in November are distancing themselves from him. So, why not move forward to impeach? While all of that is true, we have yet to address the two biggest (and closely related) impediments to a successful impeachment: 1) Senate votes and 2) the will of the American People.
“[I]f the Republican Party doesn’t have the gonads, and if the American people are not desirous of it, then it’s just whistling into the wind.” — Rush Limbaugh, radio show host & political commentator
House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY), along with the rest of establishment Republicans in Congress, have been excoriated in the conservative press and social media for not doing “the right thing”, i.e., fulfilling their oaths to protect the Constitution (including their own legislative power) by initiating impeachment proceedings against the President. As I have mentioned, articles of impeachment have been submitted, but Boehner refuses to even consider them. To be fair, the Republicans can’t move toward impeachment. Not on their own.
“It’s not going to happen. Republicans are scared that an impeachment would actually help the President. They wouldn’t actually be able to get a conviction because the Democrats control the Senate, and so they worry that the entire exercise would look political and hurt their chances in the next couple of elections.” — Onan Coca, columnist
We might assume that the GOP-led House would have a majority in favor of impeachment, which would push the articles through the Judiciary Committee and likely the full House vote. But, there really needs to be more bipartisan support — ideally, even in the House — else any impeachment attempt will look to many on the political left and center like a purely partisan (and desperate) witch-hunt or stunt by Republicans. Of course, it is even more necessary in the Senate, because without significant support from the Democrat side of the aisle, the Senate will never convict. The GOP just don’t have the votes.
Let’s look at the numbers….
Keep in mind, each charge in the impeachment articles would be voted on separately. It only takes a two-thirds majority of the Senate (i.e., 67) on one of them to secure a conviction. The difficulty would be getting that majority vote from a Senate composed of 54 Democrats and 1 Left-leaning Independent (leaving 45 Republicans).
While I didn’t have time to delve into it much, the sense I get is that Republicans are expected to “win back” the Senate this November. That’s great! But, it is extremely doubtful that they will end up with the 67 needed to virtually guarantee an impeachment conviction. According to one estimate I read (by FiveThirtyEight.com), the GOP is estimated to finish with “54 or more Senate seats”. On the other hand, CBS News’ Battleground Tracker model recently predicted “a 51-49 GOP majority if the election were held today”. Regardless, even if a “Republican wave” comes closer to FiveThirtyEight’s estimate, a two-thirds GOP Senate majority does not seem probable for this cycle.
Even in the above speculation, I am assuming for sake of argument that Republican Senators would all go ahead and vote for conviction at that point, but there would be no guarantee. If one or two did not, then maybe… just maybe Dennis Kucinich and some other brave Democrat soul(s) would stand in the gap. Unfortunately, as it stands now, political fallout against any Democrats who vote in favor of conviction would be considered too high a price. Some of them may be whining and complaining and acting all indignant about this or that abuse by the Obama administration. But, it is still assumed that most, if not all, would still vote to acquit — if not to save their own skins, then for reasons of party solidarity and/or keeping the “progressive” momentum, even with a falling Obamessiah.
This brings us to that second major impediment I mentioned….
“[R]eal impeachment requires the public will to remove the president from office. You can have a thousand impeachable offenses, but without that political consensus, impeachment is not an appropriate remedy.” — Andrew C. McCarthy, attorney and author
Proponents and opponents alike agree that impeaching a president takes “political will”. (McCarthy stresses this point a lot in his book!) What do they mean by that? It’s a rather abstract concept, but my sense of it is twofold. First, it can mean the willingness of the citizenry to support a decision/action made by their representatives in political office. If they perceive it as having negative ramifications for themselves and/or their community/nation, whether serious or merely inconvenient, the people’s “political will” — some refer to this as the “public will” — will not be very high or strong. Second, “political will” may refer to a willingness by officeholders to take risks (or even to commit political suicide) to support unpopular measures, because they are convinced the result will be mostly positive and/or necessary (e.g., “it’s the right thing to do”). Obviously, if the former is strong, then there is less risk involved in the latter.
As we have already seen, the “political will” to impeach amongst politicians, particularly on the Left, is mostly absent — or, in a few cases, iffy at best. But, what about the American public?
Roughly a year ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) acknowledged that impeachment is “disruptive and harmful to the nation and it’s to be used sparingly,” as well as that it would not pass the Senate. But, she argued that it may still be necessary. She referred to the administration’s continued “thuggery” and the growing frustration and unrest among the nation’s populace possibly leading to massive levels of civil disobedience. But, that frustration level just isn’t that high, yet.
In July of this year a CNN/ORC poll revealed that only 33 percent of Americans overall (57% of Republicans, 35% of Independents, 13% of Democrats) supported impeaching Obama, while 41 percent supported a House GOP lawsuit against him. I read of another poll that had 35 percent pro-impeachment. Still, that ain’t great. As conservative political commentator Guy Benson put it, there is “no groundswell of support, or any semblance of a serious campaign, to remove the President of the United States from office.” As far as the “political will” of the people goes, it’s just not there, either. The vocal few aren’t enough.
“If [elected representatives] act, or refuse to act, based solely on whether by doing so they advance their personal or factional agenda, they show their contempt for the well-being of the nation as a whole. They thereby prove themselves unfit for the offices (duties) they hold, whether or not they are ever called to account for their dereliction.” — Ambassador Alan Keyes
In this series of posts, we have reviewed the who, what, where, when, why, and how of impeachment. We have listed out the various charges that various politicians, pundits, scholars, and average joes/janes have suggested President Obama be indicted with. We have determined that an excellent case can be made in favor of impeachment and answered questions regarding the wisdom and practicality of Congress preparing official articles of impeachment and initiating proceedings thereof. In the end, though, we were forced to reluctantly conclude that it would not be wise to move forward with impeachment at this time.
So,… what can be done?
The Framers armed Congress with two weapons they could use in response to presidential abuse of power: the power of the purse and, as a last resort, the power of impeachment. If Congress cannot or will not use the latter, then they damn well better do a better job using the former to defund and undermine the president’s agenda! So far, they have had rather limited success with that, and one has to wonder if the GOP establishment’s heart just isn’t in it. In addition to defunding, Congress can and should pass legislation like Rep. Tom Rice’s “Stop This Overreaching Presidency” (S.T.O.P.) Resolution (H.R. 442), which directs the House to institute legal action that requires the President to comply with the law. (Not sure how effective it would be, but if he ignores it, that’s one more impeachable offense to add to the list.) They can, individually or as a body, file suit against the President, as Speaker Boehner has (with the House’s approval, 225-201) over Obamacare. I don’t know if such lawsuits are the wisest course right now, but I certainly hope Obama gets hit with them as soon as he is out of office
Next, I have to agree with Sen. McCain. (See quote at top of Part 3.) We need to focus on winning elections and regaining control of the Senate. Even with only 51 Republican seats, it would make the GOP the “majority party”. That means that Harry Reid would no longer be in charge and would have a lot less power & influence to squelch conservative bills, support/push Obama’s agenda, and stay silent (or give the nod) when Obama usurped congressional authority. In fact, it would turn the tables, so that the GOP is much more effective in stonewalling Obama’s harmful, “progressive” agenda and (hopefully) preventing him from getting away with more unconstitutional power grabs. Furthermore, it would also allow them to pass good legislation, including the 350+ bipartisan bills that have already passed the House –- legislation for American energy independence, fostering job growth, strengthening our national security, and many other priorities — but have languished on Harry Reid’s desk.
Finally, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate the American people (but particularly certain groups that usually vote Democrat by default), not only about the scandals and other offenses but about why no administration should be allowed to get away with this stuff and why it is bad — dangerous, even — for everyone. Sadly, as we have already seen, the anger and disillusionment and disgust with Obama is not yet strong enough among the American population as a whole. But, once more people of all persuasions are better informed, hopefully that groundswell can gain some momentum. An organized, grass-roots campaign would let all three branches of government know that “We the people” are sufficiently incensed to get off our collective butt and make it known that, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take this anymore!” In other words, we need to build the public’s “political will” to, at the very least, hold Obama accountable and remove him from office. Once there is a serious campaign to do so, even among Democrats, then Congress should be able to revisit the feasibility of impeachment with much less fear of political reprisal.
Part of this education effort involves reading and sharing books and articles (and the information & ideas within) by people like Andrew McCarthy, Aaron Klein, Edward Klein, Dinesh D’Souza, David Limbaugh, and others, who investigate President Obama and his administration, shining a light on the arrogant lawlessness, dangerous policies, shameful scandals, violations of the Constitution, and the overall “progressive” agenda.
If we don’t put a stop to the lies, corruption, weakening of our nation (in various ways), and generally audacious abuses of power (and soon!), we really will be living under a dictatorship (however “benevolent”). Even that probably won’t last long, given the foreign powers angling for world domination. We are already scarily vulnerable to economic (oil, trade, debt, dollar devaluation), military (conventional or nuclear), and terrorist (from bombs to biological weapons) attack. Either way, the “grand experiment” that is America will be over, and the world will suffer enormously for it.