Understandably, a lot of you dont want to talk impeachment.
You perhaps say, Is it good strategy for Republicans? And the answer, delivered after a micro-seconds of the mind running back to the Clintonian Age, is of course NO.
But sorry, if that is your thought process, you havent understood or really grappled with what I wrote below.
Thats not to say Im certain my position is correct. It could be the case that even when my position is fully understood, Prudence would have to say, ” Sshhhh . . . . . . talk of such ideas can do nothing good for your reputation, nor, if it were to become common, for the electoral prospects of conservative candidates.”
But despite my uncertainty, none of the comments to my piece have yet convinced me that that is the case. Most of my theses remain unaddressed.
To repeat, I did not advocate impeachment. I advocated beginning to talk about it openly as a way of warning Obama of what he could be up against if he keeps violating the Constitution, as a preparation of the public mind if he does so, and as a preparation for Republican House candidates who may well be asked about impeachment in the course of the 2014 campaign.
That is, Im talking about duty, and perhaps about inevitability, and not about a strategy conservatives can adopt at their choosing. Our only choice is whether to prepare, or to not prepare.
Obama deserves impeachment. Already. Before more actions against the Constitution which may or may not come.
I believe this, and think it is my duty and that of every conservative who believes the same to say this , even though I agree with the prudential calculation that it would harm the nation to try to impeach him now.
Prudence awaits more violations, and it awaits a situation in which public opinion has become more prepared. And it hopes to never have to impeach. It hopes that the no-drama-Obama public image will prove basically true from here on out on matters constitutional. But as the Williamson piece linked below indicates, it would be highly imprudent to expect this.
Why should we believe that Obama deserves impeachment? This post will deal with his violations of the Constitution, and another will explain why Federalist #65 accepted such violations as grounds for impeachment.
The most frontal and most serious of Obamas constitutional violations are those of the take-care clause , which I discussed this summer, and as critic of both parties expansion of executive power Jonathan Turley denounced as rocking our system to its core. These violations directly steal legislative powers, and brazenly defy the text of the Constitution. Their occurrence without Congressional challenge is unprecedented, and they will remain a poisonous precedent for future presidents of either party. As far as I am aware, no serious defense of their constitutionality has been offered by Democratic intellectuals.(Please point me to one if you know otherwise.)
But I suppose one can miss the forest by looking too much upon any particular trees, even ones as Sequoia-huge as the take-care clause violations.
It is a recent Kevin Williamson piece, The Front Man , that best gets you to see entire forest of constitutional violations. I have not seen much discussion of this must-read piece, probably because it was issued just before the Thanksgiving Holiday.
The first thing Williamson does is to show how the laws passed by the Democratic Congress of pre-2011 days, while not technically violations of the Constitution, violate its spirit, by their further entrenching and expanding the illegitimate but de facto Fourth Branch of our government, the Bureaucracy:
IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obamas approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obamas political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies.
. . . Instead of delegating power to a would-be president-for-life, we delegate it to a bureaucracy-without-death. You do not need to install a dictator when youve already had a politically supercharged permanent bureaucracy in place for 40 years or more. As is made clear by everything from campaign donations to the IRS jihad, the bureaucracy is the Left, and the Left is the bureaucracy. Elections will be held, politicians will come and go, but if you expand the power of the bureaucracy, you expand the power of the Left, of the managers and minions who share Barack Obamas view of the world. Barack Obama isnt the leader of the free world; hes the front man for the permanent bureaucracy . . .
In an important sense, the American people have no political say in the health-care law, for example, because Congress did not pass a law reforming the health-care system; instead, Congress passed a law empowering the Obama administration, through its political appointees and unelected time-servers, to create a new national health-care regime. The general outline of the program is there in the law, but the nuts and bolts of the thing will be created on the fly by President Obama and his many panels of experts.
We see the same pattern with bills Obama proposed since 2010, such as one version of the Immigration Reform bill, which as George Will noted, at last count had 222 instances of a discretionary may and 153 of waive. Such language means that were the Senate bill to become law, the executive branch would be able to do pretty much as it pleases . . . But back to Williamson, who after denouncing Obamas delay of the laws employer mandates, say this:
. . . This is a remarkable thing. The health-care law gives the executive all sorts of powers to promulgate regulations and make judgments, but it does not give the executive the power to decide which aspects of the law will be enforced and which will not . . . For all of the power that Congress legally has given the president in this matter, he feels it necessary to take more illegally. There is no obvious and persuasive legal rationale . . . . . . The administration is transparently violating the letter of the law to see after its own political interests. That is an intolerable state of affairs.
Well, we can say its intolerable in editorials all we want. But unless we say, and demand that our representatives say, that this is impeach-worthy, we are demonstrating our willingness to tolerate it.
Representative Tom Cotton says that the presidents health-care delay makes a deal on immigration less likely if the president can simply decline to enforce the provisions of a law he fought for, why trust him to enforce provisions of a law he is accepting only as a compromise? Representative Cotton must also of course have in mind the fact that after Congress had unequivocally rejected another piece of immigration reform, the so-called DREAM Act, that the president had supported, he simply instituted it unilaterally, as though he had the authority to declare an amnesty himself. He then did away with criminal-background checks for those to be amnestied, also on his own authority. Strangely, the order to halt background checks came down on November 9, 2012, the same day that John Boehner said Republicans would seek a compromise on immigration reform.
The forest of violations just goes on, and on, and on, and on:
In a similar vein, President Obama refused to cut off foreign-aid funds to the Egyptian government, though he is required by law to do so in the event of a coup détat, which is precisely what happened in July in Egypt. It might be embarrassing for the president to punish the Egyptian military and the grand mufti of al-Azhar for their overthrow of the unpopular Mohamed Morsi, but the law does not make exceptions for presidential embarrassment. The president is not legally empowered to assassinate American citizens, but he has done so, after going through the charade of drawing up a legal argument under which he judged himself entitled to do what the Constitution plainly prohibits. The law also prohibits the president and his allies from using the instruments of government to persecute their rivals, but that is precisely what the IRS has been up to for several years, as it turns out. And not just the IRS: Tea-party activist Catherine Engelbrecht was subject to an IRS audit, two FBI visits, an OSHA investigation, and an ATF inspection of her business . . . And although the IRS has no statutory power to collect Affordable Care Actrelated fines in states that have not voluntarily set up health-care exchanges, Obamas managers there have announced that they will do so anyway.
No, despite editing out several of Williamson’s examples, we’re still not done.
. . . There exists a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which restricts the federal governments power to force Americans to violate their consciences. The Obama administration is forcing an abortifacient mandate upon practically all U.S. employers, in violation of that law. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, who is responsible for drafting those regulations, received a number of letters from lawmakers arguing that the mandate she was contemplating violated the law; she proceeded anyway without so much as getting an opinion from her departmental lawyer.
Congresss supine ceding of its powers, and the Obama administrations usurpation of both legal and extralegal powers, is worrisome. But what is particularly disturbing is the quiet, polite, workaday manner with which the administration goes about its business and with which the American public accepts it.
All in all, looking at the forest is just too much! Williamson has not yet dared, as far as I know, to call for impeachment-talk, but does not his piece invite it? Does he not implicitly ask us, Why do you accept this, and for how much longer?
Williamson concludes with an unforgettable image:
He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park. Barack Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, and he knows that he cannot make recess appointments when Congress is not in recess. He knows that his HHS is promulgating regulations that conflict with federal statutes. He knows that he is not constitutionally empowered to pick and choose which laws will be enforced. . . . if Barack Obama has been from time to time muddled and contradictory, he has been clear on the point that he has no intention of being limited by something so trivial as the law.
Our current president is truly dangerous to the maintenance of our constitutional order. Prudence will have to decide in the next couple years how much of a danger he poses, and whether this demands recourse to impeachment. But make no mistake: he needs a glimpse of the hard bright steel that has so far has been left hidden in its scabbard.