As a result of a couple comments at the House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, we perhaps begin to see the first sustained public discussion of whether Obama should be impeached. An NRO writer aptly named Jonathan Strong plunged into it Thursday.
And yet, as few conservative pundits seem to be following up on the story, it seems the unwillingness to go into the topic remains in place.
I have no particular relish for it—I would much prefer to be doing posts on other topics, to be getting back to my Rock Songbook or my series on the five fundamental American ideas of Liberty. I plead “not guilty” to the charge of Obama-obsession, and I reject the notion that he is an “embryo-Caesar,” as Hamilton once said of Burr. The real danger comes from certain trends within the Democratic Party leadership that Obama symbolizes and has further entrenched, and what these trends will do long-term.
But to say the obvious about the short-term, America can survive the full 8-year dismal-ness of the Obama Presidency, and does not need impeachment or anything else to rescue it from some plausible prospect of presidential tyranny under him, since there is no such prospect.
But Obama may nonetheless be backing the members of Congress into a corner wherein they either a) have to accept further (or ramped-up) violations of the Constitution, alongside further obstructions of scandal-investigations, and thus appear to endorse the idea that impeachment for such violations is never to be countenanced, or b) impeach him.
Here, 15 initial theses. Soon, posts that lay out the three basic grounds of Obama’s impeach-worthiness.
1.) Prudent conservatives should oppose Congressional action to impeach Barack Obama.
2.) Prudent conservatives should not oppose public discussions by members of Congress about whether they ought to pledge to impeach Barack Obama if he continues to do certain unconstitutional acts, and particularly, those that alter legislation.
3.) Some prudent conservatives will disagree, but I say we must demand such a pledge, although the correct wording of it would be key, so that the impeachment process is not triggered by a minor action only questionably unconstitutional.
4.) Barack Obama deserves impeachment.
I will explain why I believe this in the next couple posts. I do not say it lightly, and neither should you.
5.) Whether he deserves impeachment, and whether Congress ought to pursue it are two distinct questions.
6.) Short of a political miracle, or short of some new caught-utterly-red-handed scandal evidence, there is no way the existing Senate, or the slight-GOP-majority Senate we will probably win in 2014 will vote to convict Obama on an impeachment charge.
It takes 2/3 of the Senate to convict.
7.) However, it could be that a fear of going down in history as one of only three presidents to be impeached might cause Obama to restrain himself.
In American political vocabulary, being “impeached” means the House of Represents votes to have the charges in question referred to the Senate and thus requires it to hold an impeachment trial. The act is thus like an indictment, and its correct name really is “impeachment.” (See Federalist #65) The two presidents who have suffered the ignominy of being impeached so far are Andrew Johnson and William Clinton. Neither were convicted by the Senate trial. (Richard Nixon resigned before the House could vote on the articles of impeachment it had already drawn up.)
It only requires a simple majority of the House to impeach.
8.) Thus, House members have a responsibility to consider whether to threaten Obama with future impeachment if he keeps overtly violating the Constitution. They have this responsibility regardless of the chances for conviction in the Senate.
9.) The disgraceful fact that our Vice-President is who he is should in no way influence our reasoning here. We must not give the slightest encouragement to those in either party who toy with the strategy of nominating scarily unqualified VPs for the sake of making impeachment of the president less likely.
10.) The fate of Republican electoral prospects in 2014 and 2016 remains paramount. If strong and consistent evidence emerges that public opinion will punish Republicans if their national representatives pursue impeachment with election losses, that should rule it out unless the constitutional violations become particularly severe. There is little Obama is likely to do with his remaining time in office that would imperil our constitutional order more than a Democratic presidential victory in 2016 would.
But no Republican or conservative should be reprimanded at this point for trying to raise discussion of the issue. A lot of whispering in official circles has gone on about it already, and certainly discussions of it in blogs and comment threads are becoming both more common. The discussion is upon us. An accumulation of our president’s actions, alongside improving Republican prospects in both houses, have made it unavoidable.
11.) If one agrees that the House of Representatives is obliged to signal Obama that the step of impeachment is conceivable (thesis 8), that is impossible if open talk of the subject remains taboo.
12.) Behind-the-scenes talk of the subject may already have had a benefit: a number of conservatives noted the hypocrisy of the president’s recent claim, made at a San Francisco speech interrupted by immigration-amnesty activists, that he cannot halt deportations via executive order without violating the Constitution. The hypocrisy charge is entirely correct, due to previous actions of his. But his statement might also be a good sign, a sign that he has heard the general whispers, or perhaps even heeded privately delivered warnings from certain Representatives that it’s getting dangerous to keep pushing the constitutional envelope. Let us hope.
(Zombie, the PJMedia blogger who gives you the best reporting on the SF speech, suggests there is a more sinister way of interpreting this. His report also underlines how disgraceful it is to find these supposedly liberal activist groups, the ones who greeted him in SF, increasingly calling for executive orders. Moderates-so-called, it is your duty to demand that Democrat leaders openly denounce these calls. Your continuing silence in the face of such things remains very alarming.)
13.) I suppose many conservatives are resorting to whispering now, because they fear the reaction of American blacks. They perhaps feel the very discussion of the idea is a betrayal of blacks. And there is no denying that the idea of the first black American president getting thrown out of office by impeachment is a painful and ugly one. Were the nation to see a final Senate vote convicting him, and then witness him and his family boarding the helicopter, followed by a tearful speech from President Biden, it is near-certain that there would be black-initiated riots in at least a few American cities, and not impossible that all of our cities would suffer them.
Though the mere connection of the words “impeachment” and “Barack Obama” causes all this to play before the mind’s eye, one saving grace is that thesis 6) shows you that his conviction is practically impossible.
And if we talk openly about impeachment, eventually most Americans will become aware of this, whereas to delay discussion will unleash the initial half-thought-through outrage factor according to a timing chosen by our opponents.
So the most relevant question here is how black Americans would react, and how those of us who aren’t black us would feel vis-à-vis our relations with blacks, to Obama being impeached, but not convicted. To his remaining in office, with this official insult or stain placed upon his record. Would the black rage and humiliation, and the closely linked white guilt and fear, be overwhelming? That is, would they bring America to a genuinely dangerous place? By certain signs, they would. After all, with the MSM’s disgusting help, we probably came close to having a couple riots over even something as minor as the Trayvon Martin case.
I do not claim to know. But I think America could tough it out. And I think it has to.
Or, are we Republicans going to continue to whisper now, and into perpetuity, because we assume too many blacks can’t take it, that they will explode? That is itself quite hurtful, a “racism of low expectations,” and could only help breed an ever more race-based politics if we hold to it.
As if we even could! The unexamined “thought” here, seems to be that we can keep the fact that growing numbers of Republicans are talking impeachment from the awareness of the public generally, and from the most lo-info and presumably most riot-prone blacks specifically. This is not just grossly insulting, it is childishly naive. It is a function of unhealthy white guilt and embarrassment, and perhaps worse, of a self-excusing pessimism regarding black and liberal political judgment that too many white conservatives have adopted these days.
Observant non-Republican blacks are already aware of the whispers. Some of them will denounce to the skies the politicians and pundits who first start talking of impeachment in public, but they will have to feign their shocked surprise; moreover, a very effective reply to them will be that Republican politicians have no choice but to at least talk about what their constituents are, and that to do otherwise for fear of black rage would in fact be a sign of contempt for blacks.
Republicans can’t be ready with such replies, however, unless they permit themselves to talk about the subject in the first place.
14.) Those who advocate impeachment by the House, or the threat of it, should believe that conviction, although highly unlikely, is deserved. They should be prepared to defend the possibility, however abstract it may be, of removal from office. Unlike other constitutional checks, there can be no excuse for playing chicken with that of impeachment, and the public will recoil against those whose recourse to it seems a matter of opportunity and bargaining power. It is only to be raised by those sincerely convinced that the accused has by his actions made himself utterly, or nearly utterly, unworthy of the office, and that he is an ongoing danger to the nation’s safety or Constitution.
Yes, as I said above, we can live with the full two terms of Obama’s presidency. The question is whether we ought to, given the responsibility we all owe to future generations for preventing non-constitutional patterns of governance from becoming accepted. The Constitution gives us a non-revolutionary way of expressing a conviction that his actions merit removal, and expressing it in a way that officially puts a permanent mark on his record, the better to instruct future citizens. And again, the mere threatening of using that might be enough to keep him from adding more dangerous-to-posterity examples of constitutional violation.
My position is too subtle, you say? But it is our Constitution that encourages such.
15.) A lot of journalists who want to see conservative candidates lose in 2014 know that the base is increasingly talking about this, and so they are going to spring the most awkward questions they can about impeachment. So the more back-and-forth discussion such candidates have on the matter now, the less subject they will be to that factor of surprise. Note also that if reports were to plausibly suggest that House Republicans do not have enough votes to impeach prior to the elections of 2012, but might have enough if they gain seats, Democratic candidates might make it a big issue during next year’s campaigns, and repeatedly demand that their opponents indicate quite precisely whether they’re for impeachment or not.
And would not such a demand be fair? Would not a crop of Republican House candidates who remained studiously mum about impeachment in 2014, but who upon election proved willing to consider it in 2015, rightly be regarded by the public as deceivers?
All in all, the talk is coming whether you want it to or not, whether it’s good for Republican chances or not. It sure isn’t going to wait until the day after the 2014 elections. So I say we get a little ahead of the curve here, and talk about it amongst ourselves.