Sadly, the topic of impeaching a President has come up, once, again. It is important to remember the history of impeachment in America and the Constitutional rational for having it in our Constitution.
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution speaks to the removal from federal office of a President, Vice President and people like Federal Judges. It states that treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors are the causes for removal from office. George Mason wanted to have impeachment for incompetence, but James Madison won the day by stating that criminal behavior should be the criteria. Benjamin Franklin had a common sense reason for having impeachment as a remedy. In his day, assassination was the recourse, if you did not like your king or leader.
Historically, impeachment has been rarely used. Bribery has been the cause for removing some judges but for the office of President impeachment has rarely occurred.
In the debate for the ratification of the Constitution, James Iredell argued in a letter written on July 28, 1788, that on impeachment: It must be for an error of the heart and not of the head.” He continued, ” A public officer ought not to act from a principle of fear. Were he punishable for want of judgment, he would be continually in dread. But when he knows that nothing but real guilt can disgrace him, he may do his duty firmly, if he be an honest man.”
The criteria used for impeachment must be serious and not an act of political partisanship. If one used the idea of George Mason that incompetence should be the criteria who would judge this? Elections must mean something and as Thomas Jefferson believed our Republican form of government is dependent on the rule of the majority.
If competence was a criteria in defining if a President deserved removal who would judge this? This idea is such a subjective standard. We have had according to many historians Presidents who were incompetent but none faced impeachment. I thought that silent Cal. was a worthless president but that is my opinion, it is not a reason to impeach.
If you don’t like a President, that is not the reason to impeach and attempt to destroy the reputation of a person who serves in a high office. To impeach out of a partisan sense would make our elections irrelevant.
Take the case of President Andrew Johnson. His alleged crime was the removal of federal employees without the consent of the Senate in violation of the Tenure of Office Act. But the truth be told his impeachment was due to the fact that the radical Republicans did not get their way regarding the re-admission of the former Confederate States. Johnson wanted to follow Lincoln’s wishes and the radical Republicans wanted their pound of flesh in treating the former states horribly through vengeful actions and the use of carpetbaggers. Impeachment succeeded and President Johnson was only acquitted by one vote.
Some believe that Aaron Burr was a traitor, and the failure to impeach was a mistake.
The 20th Century has seen the example of the actions of President Richard Nixon. There is no doubt that he would have been impeached successfully for real crimes if he had not resigned. Conspiracy to commit criminal acts is a high crime and misdemeanor.
It is a shame that part of the definition of what is impeachable is not defined. No where is it explained as to what a misdemeanor is. This is not the time nor place to trot out some new unproven theory.
The case of President Bill Clinton was similar to the Andrew Johnson situation where you had a determined group of political opponents who could not defeat him at the polls. They worked hard to remove him for the failure to tell the truth about sexual behavior. Sorry, I may not like what he did from a moral sense, but it is not an impeachable offense. If we were to judge people and especially politicians on their morality, Washington D.C. would be an empty place. It is for his God to judge him on his morality and his wife, not the American people.
Now let us turn to the prospective case against President Barrack Hussein Obama. His actions whether you agree or disagree with him have been acts of judgment and not of the heart. There have been no acts of mens rea where he has taken a bribe or has committed an act of treason. His Executive Orders and signing statements are not unusual from the actions of previous Presidents. If impeachment is attempted it would take the lawful proceeding for removal to a new low. It would be an act, purely of partisan politics. He won the election. Get over it! He is the President.
No President is perfect, even Franklin Roosevelt was not perfect. His actions against the Japanese Americans were immoral and just plain wrong. His attempt to pack the Supreme Court was wrong. Eisenhower was mute when it came to Joseph McCarthy. JFK botched the Bay of Pigs. LBJ had Vietnam. Many presidents had sexual indiscretions but still Congress was mute and our political system continued to be viable.
President Obama does not deserve to be impeached. There have been no acts on his part that can be described as criminal acts. Any attempt to remove him would be a waste of time and money. Instead of thinking about suing the President, members of Congress should look at their own failure to act on serious matters. The House of Representatives even has a committee on studying aliens, and I do not mean people coming over the border. I mean aliens from other planets. The House has better things to do, they should do the peoples business and realize that any impeachment action would just lower the esteem that Congress currently has. The use of impeachment should be for the rare cases where treason, bribery and high crimes have been committed.