Tag: Impeachment

The Case for Patience

In August of 1867, President Andrew Johnson fired Edwin Stanton in violation of the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson was a terrible President and had been in conflict with Congress for a long time. They began working on impeachment almost immediately but it dragged out until, nine months later, the Senate acquitted him.

On June 17, 1972, four men were discovered breaking into the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. It took over two years for the scandal to grind through an opposing Congress until Nixon resigned. Had he fought impeachment, it might have dragged out even longer.

From November of 1995 to March 1997, Monica Lewinsky had a series of encounters will Bill Clinton. The coverup began later that year and the scandal broke on January 17 of 1998. It took almost a year for the scandal to develop until a hostile Congress voted on impeachment that December. And this was really the culmination of years of scandal with the Clintons.

Why do I bring these up? To remind everyone that we have only turned to impeachment three times in our nation’s history. In each case, the President faced a hostile Congress. In each case, there was specific law-breaking. In each case, it was the culmination of years of conflict. And in each case it took months or years to resolve.

So why are all of the sudden in such a rush to impeach Donald Trump?

Look, Donald Trump has had a poor four months. His Muslim ban was rolled out with all the skill of the Marx brothers. His budget went nowhere. His healthcare imploded. He hired Mike Flynn — a man compromised by multiple foreign entanglements — and then fired him reluctantly. He fired the FBI director because he didn’t him poking around his Russia ties. He has serious conflict of interest and infuriating temperament problems. I’ll be second to few in my criticism of him.

But it is way too early be talking impeachment and way too early to be calling Congress — held by his party — “cowards” and “partisans” for not beginning impeachment proceedings immediately.

Let’s look at some facts here:

  • There is zero evidence, at this point, that Donald Trump directly collaborated with the Russians to win the election.
  • There is zero evidence that anyone in his campaign did. There are some indications that some of them had worked for Russia and one may have contacted the DNC hacker. But there’s no smoking gun yet. Not even on Michael Flynn.
  • Even if someone did work with the Russians, this is not “treason” in any legal sense. Treason is defined very narrowly in our laws to avoid it being used to go after political opponents. We’re not at war with Russia.
  • It is highly questionable whether Trump’s business interests violate the law. They’re slimy, sure. But corruption? No proof yet.
  • Firing the FBI director is not illegal nor is it obstruction of justice. Firing Sally Yates is not illegal nor is it obstruction of justice. Firing Preet Bharara is not illegal not is it obstruction of justice. Asking Comey to lay off Flynn is not illegal nor is it obstruction of justice. These things may be part of a pattern of behavior that could be said to constitute obstruction. You would introduce these as elements of a crime. But none of them are crimes in and of themselves.
  • (And while we’re on the subject, why the hell are the liberals making a hero of that overzealous Constitution-shredding prosecutor Bharara? He is no friend of theirs. His “resistance” to Donald Trump has consisted entirely of refusing a perfectly legal and routine request to resign because … he didn’t want to. Bharara is only in this for himself.
  • Trump’s executive orders are not illegal. In fact, the precedent for most of what he’s done was set by … Barack Obama.

Look, I’m not saying there will never be a case to impeach Donald Trump. I’m just saying that case does not exist yet and may not for years. People who are talking impeachment — or worse using the 25th Amendment — are way ahead of themselves. Hell, let’s be honest. Some of them were talking about impeachment the day he won the election.

Let’s all take a deep breath here. Donald Trump is President of the United States. I’m not fond of that fact but he is. Screaming impeachment every time he swats a fly is not going to get us anywhere. And frankly, it make the “resistance”, after all of four months, sound more insane than the worst Tea Partiers ever did. For four months, the courts, the Congress and the media have held Trump in check. Concentrate your efforts there. And when he does do something right, admit he’s done something right.

Post Scriptum

For the record, I think it’s likely that Donald Trump will not finish his first term. But I don’t think it will have anything to do with Russia and I don’t think he will be impeached. My opinion is that while Russia tried to influence the election, their contacts with the Trump campaign were limited at best. And Trump’s behavior does not cross me as someone trying to cover up a huge scandal. It crosses me as the behavior of a petty inexperienced man who is convinced the Russia thing is a bunch of garbage and wants to end it, not understanding the political ramifications. This is Trump’s inexperience showing — a smart man would let the Democrats gasbag themselves to death over it. But we’ll see what comes out of the investigation.

If Trump quits early it will be because he’s frustrated with the limit on the office and wants to do something else. I don’t think he ever really wanted to be President. And while I think he enjoys talking to crowds and sparring with the media, I don’t think he likes the slowly frustrating hamstrung grind of the office itself.

Post-post Scriptum

Note that with impeachment on the brain, a lot of Democrats are unveiling their, “actually Pence is worse” lines of BSery. The line of thought is that Pence is less personally obnoxious and could therefore get a lot more of his agenda through. Well, that and that Pence is such a religious maniac, he’s going to turn the country in the The Handmaid’s Tale.

In unveiling this argument, the Left is revealing that a huge fraction of their opposition to Trump is pure partisanship. You can’t make the argument that Trump is uniquely unsuited to the office and then claim that Pence (or Ryan) is worse. That’s just foolishness as well as an abuse of the English language.

The other argument is that they want Trump to be truly awful and, thus, destroy the Republican Party. Apart from the reality that truly awful candidates never wreck a party, this is putting politics ahead of country. Are you seriously hoping that Trump wrecks the country so that Democrats get to power? Is that really what this is all about?

Then don’t call yourself “the resistance”. You’re not resistance. You’re just wearing a different shade of uniform.

The Impeachment Canard

Over the course of Obama’s Presidency, there have been occasional rumblings to impeach him. These rumblings got a little attention a few weeks ago when Sarah Palin — who has no official position with the GOP — called for Obama to be impeached. But for the most part, the idea is being ignored. Conservatives are well aware that Democrats control enough of the Senate to block anything and that an impeachment fight would do little to benefit the country or them (even assuming appropriate “high crimes and misdemeanors” could be identified to fit the bill). You can peruse Hot Air, NRO, The Daily Caller, Town Hall … you’ll find little apart from shrugging. Conservative just aren’t that obsessed with the idea.

You know who is obsessed with the idea? Liberals:

Consider, for example, the Sunlight Foundation’s Capitol Words database, which tracks words spoken in the House and Senate. So far in July, there have been 10 mentions of the term “impeachment” in Congress and four others of the term “impeach.” Eleven of the 14 mentions have been made by Democratic rather than Republican members of Congress, however.

Impeachment chatter has also become common on cable news. On Fox News this month, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, called for Obama’s impeachment, for instance. But for every mention of impeachment on Fox News in July, there have been five on liberal-leaning MSNBC.

In July, Fox News mentioned impeachment 95 times, or about three times a day. MSNBC mentioned it 448 times. And the trend was only going up at the end of the month.

Now why is this becoming such a big thing among liberals? Well, need you ask:

The Democrats’ congressional campaign arm pulled in $2.1 million in online donations over the weekend — the best four-day haul of the current election cycle — largely propelled by fundraising pitches tied to speculation that House Republicans could pursue the impeachment of President Obama.

Democrats have consistently used impeachment — a prospect that has been floated by several prominent conservatives but has not been embraced by most of the Republican establishment — to fill their campaign coffers, and their polling has shown that fear of an impeachment attempt as well as the House GOP’s efforts to sue Obama have the potential to drive midterm voter turnout on the left.

Ding! Or maybe I should say “Ka-ching!”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, of course. For as long as I can remember, the Democrats have run on the platform that the evil Republicans are going to take away social security, gut Medicare, start World War III, send your job to Mexico, destroy the environment, impeach Obama and cancel Arrested Development. Fear is what they do; security is what they offer. And both are lies.

Now the Democrats and their defenders will point out that it was Republicans who first raised this idea. And that’s true. But the GOP leadership and most conservative pundits almost immediately dismissed it. The Democrats will also point out that the GOP made a potential impeachment of Bush an issue in 2006. That’s also true. But as Silver points out, the disparity in concern over the issue wasn’t nearly as dramatic (374 mentions for Fox against 206 for MSNBC over the first seven months of the year). Nor did it reach fever pitch this call has. Moreover, the Democrats actually introduced articles of impeachment against Bush in 2008, something I don’t see the Republicans doing any time soon.

It tells you how thin the veneer of confidence is among Democrats that the mere whisper of impeachment from a Fox News pundit can send them into this kind of tizzy. It’s going to be very ugly when they lose power.

Decline and Fall

Over at Sullivan’s blog, they are asking when the moment was that we realized we were a decadent Imperial Rome. Most of them are saying the Impeachment, which is insane. Rome did not decline because its people stopped tolerating lying, perjury, obstruction of justice and its leaders assuming they were above the law. Moreover, their points strike a stunning note of historical ignorance. Presidents have been mocked, jeered and pilloried far worse than Clinton ever was. Check out Cracked on this one — yes, a fucking humor website is more historically up-to-date than the typical Democrat.

It’s true that things got very badly partisan after the impeachment and we have two parties that have, apparently, no interest in governing. But that’s been a long time in coming. And I would say the 2000 election played as great a role, if not greater. It’s easy to forget — after all, it was almost a decade ago — that the Democrats spent several years as the party of obstruction and bullshit.

If you want to mark a beginning of an Imperial era, you might go to Woodrow Wilson’s loathsome presidency or maybe FDR. Blaming impeachment is simply blaming Republicans. And it’s not Republicans who have gone more than two years without proposing a budget. It’s not Republicans who stuck their head in the sand on Social Security. It’s not Republicans who are already undermining the cost controls in Obamacare.

As for comparisons to Rome, I have read Gibbon. And my opinion is that the reason Rome fell is because its leaders and its people stopped defending it. Considering that we’re currently in three wars, I don’t think that’s our problem just yet.