Tags: Impeachment

Ross Douthat and the Week of Obscene Silences


Last week was one of the more dismaying ones in the history of our republic.  A president suggested that he was ready to take an action that would violate the separation of powers in a major way. In Ross Douthat’s words:

…the president is contemplating — indeed, all but promising — an extraordinary abuse  of office: the granting of temporary legal status, by executive fiat, to up to half the country’s population of illegal immigrants.

It even appeared plausible he was signaling this for the sake of provoking demands for impeachment  that he calculated would aide his party’s fortunes at the next election.

Did the president deny the rumors—likely planted by his minions—that he was considering this patently unconstitutional action?  He did not. 

Did he respond to the speculations of his wanting to provoke impeachment talk by denying them?  He did not. 

Were any reporters able or willing to aggressively ask our president about the origins of these rumors?  About how such an action could be constitutional? No again.

Did he seek to distance himself from claims that the GOP would impeach made by many in his party in fund-raising letters and speeches?  No.  Rather, the sudden adoption of that tact appears to have been coordinated, and we can rightly suspect that such coordination was approved by him.  Rather, he modeled for one and all how to characterize Republican concern and debate about how to combat his unconstitutional expansions of executive power–referring to the lawsuit resolution passed by the House, he delivered this:  stop hatin’ all the time! 

And the response of Americans, particularly those of the political class, to all of this?


Oh, there was talk alright, but among the Democratic leaders it was all along the lines of how to better drive home the hatin’ angle, and among Republican ones it was all along the dishonest-in-spirit, utterly unsustainable, but sure, technically true lines of “WE haven’t said the I-word!” 

A mere word, of eleven little letters that begins with an “I,” and every conservative strategist is shaking in fear of it, and every other Democratic partisan is suddenly brandishing it about like a talisman!  Available at a click are carefully thought-through and exquisitely constructed sentences from our Founders laying out what they intended, both for the separation of powers and for impeachment, but a president of these latter days utters some schoolyard Miley Cyrus phrase, and that’s it, everyone knows and accepts that there’s nothing more to see here. 

Well, thank God that Ross Douthat is not among those.  The man’s had many a great column, but this week he stands particularly tall, for being one of the few willing to warn that a very dangerous line is about to be crossed (although in the strict sense, it is not, as he said, a “Rubicon”-type line of no-return).  It is the line between confining the power to make and repeal legislation to one branch, and allowing it to be shared by two.  If there is anything sacred about our Constitution, then the mere suggestion given by a president that he might erase such a line is tantamount to a high priest uttering blasphemies before the whole congregation. 

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: Impeachment , abdication of moderates , Ross Douthat , Barack Obama

The Case for Formally Threatening Obama with Impeachment Right Now


In what follows, I will be making the case for the current Republican members of Congress, and all new Republican candidates running for House election to sign, ASAP, a pledge to this effect:

“We the undersigned promise the American People, that we will initiate impeachment proceedings against President Barack Obama if he either a) commits three more violations, no matter how minor in practical effect, of the take-care clause and/or presentment clause of the Constitution, or if he b) commits one such violation that has the effect of providing amnesty to more than 100,000 illegal immigrants. 

This promise is totally independent from whatever occurs with the lawsuit.  Nor does it rule out or promise impeachment for other reasons, such as impeding investigations of current or future scandals.  This promise does not apply to just any independent executive actions, regardless of controversy about their being constitutional, but only to the kind indicated.  While this pledge could be used to judge how we actually vote on the final House decision on impeachment if such occurs, it does not pre-determine that vote:  each of us would certainly weigh all House debate and all input from our particular districts concerning that vote.”

A good brief argument against doing anything like this is found in Newt Gingrich’s remarks the other day

A solid case for undertaking some kind of future impeachment against Obama, once public opinion has been made ready for it, was made yesterday by Andrew McCarthy.  I am in broad agreement with Andrew, and particularly with his condemnation of the confusing lawsuit path, but note that the case I am making here would judge Andrew’s timetable as too slow and vague.  My case is that some commitment-to-impeach statement has to occur before the election, and some definite warning-shot has to be fired in response to Obama’s trial-balloon/threat this last weekend to unilaterally amnesty several millions. 

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: Impeachment , Obama

Never Say Never to Impeachment


Let’s assume most of the Republican House representatives heed the advice of Newt Gingrich, Charles Krauthammer, etc., and refuse to impeach Barack Obama. And even refuse to threaten to impeach him. Even if he actually does this rumored big amnesty order that Yuval Levin says “could well be the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American president in peacetime.”

The primary rationale behind the advice is that an impeachment threat gives Democrats a much better shot at holding on to the Senate. Let’s assume for the moment that that it is correct. (Indeed, it probably is.) So, the Republicans follow that advice and they hold the House, and gain the Senate by the likely narrow margin. 

What if on the Friday afternoon following the election, Obama does the big amnesty order?   

And assume that his minions stirred the rumors that a big amnesty order was imminent from August through election day, for the purpose of baiting impeachment. That would mean Republican candidates for the House would have constantly been asked variations of this simplistic question: “Do you support impeaching the President?” And we have to assume most of them, listening to the likes of Gingrich and Krauthammer, would have denied that they support it, some claiming this to be a false issue concocted by desperate Democrats

Each and every one of them, if they then sought to impeach Obama following a November amnesty order, would be wide open to the charge of lying to their constituents. The 2016 ads write themselves: “He promised us wouldn’t join his parties’ immigrant-hating extremists in impeaching Obama” — cut to close-ups of livid faces of shouting anti-Obama protestors — “so why should we listen to anything he promises us now?”

Try another scenario. What if Obama were to do the amnesty order well before the election, say, next week? The Republican candidates, also in this scenario listening to the advice of the political pros, refuse to take the bait, deny to one and all they will seek impeachment, and instead continue with the present plans to sue. Now let’s say that a week after the election Obama then does another extra-egregious violation of the Constitution, whether in the area of immigration or not. Assuming the House has remained in Republican hands, how will the representatives feel about not initiating impeachment proceedings then? Well, let’s say they don’t, and Obama commits another such violation in December. And another in January. And if they finally find the courage to impeach him then, how effectual will it feel? In every scenario, there is no possibility of Obama’s conviction in the Senate but only the consequence of going on record as one of only three presidents to be impeached. I think that is a serious consequence — but in this scenario the belated application of it to repeated offenses might well seem arbitrary to the public.  Moreover, the Republicans would still face the charge of lying to their constituents about opposing impeachment. 

These hypothetical scenarios, which merely assume Obama cares little about the Constitution and is game enough to raise the stakes whenever he calculates advantage, might suggest that the advice given by nearly the entire conservative establishment not to pursue a threat to impeach Obama now is less wise than it seems. I expect to explore that suggestion further in another post. 

But for now, one obvious takeaway. Republican representatives and candidates, do not let the media trap you into saying that you “are against impeachment.” For please notice, saying that implies that you will be against it regardless of what Obama does. Saying you are “against impeachment at the present time” is fine, but don’t promise your constituents that you will always be so. 

Tags: Impeachment

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review