Why Obama Should Be Impeached, but Won't
Barack Obama should be impeached and convicted. Alas, he probably won't be.
Barack Obama should be impeached and convicted. Alas, he probably won't be.
Other than electoral defeat, the U.S. has two peaceful procedures for removing a head of government. Some state constitutions provide for recall election to remove an errant governor. (Two governors have been recalled, the most recent being "Gray" Davis [CA] in 2003.)
At the national level, the only legal, peaceful means to remove a president -- other than voting the individual out -- is by impeachment and conviction.
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states that, "[t]he President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" (my italics).
Alexander Hamilton's The Federalist #65 specifies the kinds of offenses for which impeachment would be appropriate: "those offenses which proceed from ... the abuse or violation of some public trust" (my italics).
Both Houses of Congress and the Supreme Court's Chief Justice are involved in the impeachment process. Article I, Section 2, paragraph 5 grants "the sole Power of Impeachment" to the House of Representatives. (This is akin to a legal accusation. A simple majority vote suffices.) Article I, Section 3, paragraph 5 declares that the Senate has "the sole Power to try all Impeachments," and that the Supreme Court's Chief Justice presides at a president's trial. (Two-thirds of the Senators who are present must vote for conviction.) Article I, Section 3, paragraph 6 limits the penalty for conviction to removal from office and disqualification for holding any position "of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishment, according to Law."
Article III, section 3, paragraph 1 defines treason as "levying War against ... [the United States], or ... adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."
Bribery's meaning needs no definition.
"High Crimes and Misdemeanors'" meaning is less obvious. The Constitutional Convention, however, adopted the phrase without much debate. Most of the Framers were familiar with the phrase, which had been used to remove English officials since 1386. The term "high" signified a very serious crime. The phrase boils down to abuses of power and misconduct in office.
Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliot have written a new book exploring Obama's Impeachable Offenses. Their catalogue of impeachable offenses is extensive, including "Operation Fast and Furious," Obamacare, drone attacks that murdered American citizens abroad, and the Benghazi fiasco and its aftermath, just to list four. Other impeachable offenses -- such as the IRS targeting of conservatives, DOJ spying on reporters, etc. -- were revealed after Klein and Elliott had completed the book.
The American Thinker's readers probably have reasons for impeaching and convicting Obama. Very likely among them are revelations that Obama delayed for one year Obamacare's mandate that large businesses provide healthcare insurance for employees, demanded that insurance companies rescind cancellation of pre-Obamacare health insurance policies, and lied about citizens keeping their health insurance plans and doctors once Obamacare took effect.
Unless Obama drastically changes his MO, by the time his second term expires there will be additional evidence buttressing Klein and Elliott's contention that "Barack Obama has ... fundamentally abused the powers of his office" (my italics).
I restrict my contention that Obama should be impeached and convicted to what can be certified as "abuse of power." Specifically, I focus on Obama's violation of the Constitution's stipulation (Article II, section 3) that a president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed...."
Never mind that he lied when he said that citizens could keep their health insurance policies and doctors once Obamacare took effect. Obamians will stretch the English language up to, and beyond, the breaking-point to justify Obama's lies.
There were Kool-Aid drinkers during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998; there are Kool-Aid drinkers today. As long as the mainstream media buttress today's Kool-Aid drinkers, the claim that Obama lied has little chance.
When it comes to taking care that "the Laws be faithfully executed," however, Obama is liable. The Constitution does not permit a president (single-handedly) to change a law's provision.
Like it or not, Obamacare is the law.
Therefore, Obama's decision to postpone Obamacare's mandate that large businesses pay for employees' healthcare violates the Constitution. Since that decision contravenes the Constitution's requirement that a president take care that "the Laws be faithfully executed," Obama should be impeached, and convicted of the "high crime" of abuse of power.
There are, sadly, several reasons why Obama's impeachment and conviction are unlikely. For brevity's sake, I focus on three.
First, impeachment and conviction of a federal official rarely happen. In the 225 years since the Constitution was ratified, only two presidents -- Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 -- have been impeached, but neither was convicted. One cabinet officer, one U.S. Senator, and one Associate Justice of the Supreme Court were impeached, but none was convicted. Fourteen judges of lesser federal courts were impeached, but only seven were convicted.
Second, although the impeachment process is not supposed to be a partisan affair, it is decidedly political. Take just the two presidents' cases.
Andrew Johnson was a Democrat and Abraham Lincoln's Vice Presidential running mate in 1864, who became president when Lincoln was assassinated. He faced large Republican majorities in Congress, and battles with congressional Republicans led to his impeachment. During his Senate trial, Johnson took several politically astute steps to calm his GOP foes, and escaped conviction by one vote.
Democrat Bill Clinton also faced Republican majorities in Congress. Even so, country-club Republican senators -- probably impressed by polls showing high levels of public approval -- joined with Democrats, who doggedly defended him, to exculpate Clinton. His opponents could not induce a majority of senators to vote for either impeachment charge against him.
That experience seems to have left a sour taste for the impeachment process among many GOP country clubbers.
The following is politically incorrect, but so it goes. The third reason that Obama is unlikely to be impeached is race. I have no idea of how large portions of the black populace would react to a move to impeach Obama, but given the facts that 90+% of blacks voted for him in 2008 and 2012 and 80% approve of his job performance in Gallup's latest poll (11/11-17/13), they are likely to be his stout defenders.
One gets to the race card's core when one confronts the frequently-made charge -- think of Oprah Winfrey -- that any criticism of Obama stems from racism. Given ruling class whites' extreme sensitivity to anything involving race, it takes no imagination to predict how they would react to a proposal to impeach and convict Obama.
If country club Republicans join with ruling class Democrats to circle the wagons around Obama, the probability that he will remain in the White House until January 20, 2017 becomes a certainty.