Of course, the prime target for impeachment for these wayward souls, the one person they salivate over seeing raked over those Congressional Impeachment Hearing coals is President Barack Obama. I’m certainly no fan of Mr. Obama’s policies and the haphazard, or perhaps his intentional amateurish stumbling along, method of governing but impeachment is a huge step, a major gamble and one that is so dangerous to the well-being of the nation overall that it has only been attempted twice over the entire history of the country.
The first time a president was impeached was during the tenure of Andrew Johnson in 1868 and the second was more recent with the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton in 1998. Johnson and Clinton were both impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the U.S. Senate, therefore, allowed to remain in office to the completion of their elected terms.
Presidents are not the only government officials subject to the rules of impeachment. The Vice President, as well as other elected and non-elected civil Officers of the United States are subject to impeachment under the U.S. Constitution. That would include elected members of the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as, members of the President’s cabinet and Supreme Court justices and federally elected or appointed judges.
The impeachment process isn’t restricted to members of the United States government. The process was first introduced to human society by the British Empire in the late 1300’s. It is now used as a process for removing members of government service from office in several countries around the world throughout Europe, some Middle Eastern and Asian countries, South American countries and in South Africa.
Simply put the main criteria for impeachment is for the individual to be found guilty of some kind of unlawful activity. If those leading the charge for impeachment of an official believe they have amassed enough tangible evidence to warrant impeaching the person accused this evidence is brought before The U.S. House of Representatives who will themselves investigate the charges, usually by the hiring of a Special Prosecutor. If, after the full investigation and Congressional Hearings on the matter, the evidence points to the individuals guilt the full House votes to either impeach or drop the case. If Impeach is the vote, then the government official is legally impeached and it then falls to the Senate to either acquit or convict. In either case it requires a two-thirds majority of the senators present on the day of voting to render a verdict. If acquitted the matter is immediately dropped and the accused is allowed to return to their position cleared of all charges. If, however, the accused is convicted, he/she must immediately leave their office. There is no other punishment allowed than dismissal from their government post, nor will they be allowed to seek federal office at anytime in the future. They may be subject to civil criminal charges, however, once they leave the protection of their office.
Okay, enough of the history lesson. Let’s talk about President Obama and the calls of late for his impeachment. As I said, I am no fan of this man’s policies are activities since he has entered office nearly seven years ago. That being said, I am also no fan of the impeachment process for several reasons.
1. Impeachment is one of the most radical processes allowed by the Constitution for the removal of an individual from office. It was designed to be such so as to dissuade those who may wish to use it randomly against someone they may not like, or someone who differs radically from their own political point of view. The Founders made it a difficult and wrenching process in order to make it a very hard, laborious choice.
2. Following the lead of those Founders I am of the opinion that the Impeachment Process is the method of ultimate 'last choice' in dealing with those in office because of the irreparable damage it can inflict on the people of the nation and how the nation is viewed in the rest of the world. This became very evident in the late 1990’s with the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. It became very evident soon after the case began that his opposition in Congress wanted him out and by using the ludicrous charge of lying to a Federal Grand Jury when he denied having sex with someone other than his wife during his tenure. Yes, he did have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky (and others), but sorry, lying about it, even to a grand jury, should not be an impeachable offense. If it were then we need to start impeaching nearly every President since Franklin D. Roosevelt (well perhaps we can exclude “ole Give the Hell Harry S. Truman). But, every President of modern times has lied about their sexual activities, perhaps not in front of a grand jury, but had they been placed in that same position, I’m certain they would have.
The entire impeachment of Bill Clinton, because of the type of charge leveled against him, became a media circus that hurt this nation, its image, and has forever done damage to the trust the American people once held for those they elect into public office.
There are a few sign-posts that we can look back on that reveal a major shift in the way this country views itself since the end of World War II. Before 1963 I consider this nation to have still been in a state of innocence as far as its worldview and self-image were concerned. With the advent of TV news coverage and after November 22, 1963, with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, that innocence was shattered to pieces and the country fell headlong into adolescence showing its rebellious and free-spirited soul. This continued for a decade until the revelation of the Watergate scandal which prompted the first presidential resignation under disgrace in American history. The country and its people lumbered along in disbelief for another several years like misguided aimless teens with no purpose, electing less than stellar leaders in Congress and an inexperienced, inept president that allowed the first mass kidnapping of Americans on foreign soil. I can remember the calls for President Carter’s impeachment by some of the far right in those days. Fortunately, no one was listening or cared. Then what appeared to be some light of hope appeared over the dark horizon, It too, however, like the new promise of liberty upon leaving one’s teens for the destiny of those life-molding twenties, was replaced by revelations of back-door-deals with terrorists for hostages. The eyes of the public were opening wider to the reality of the world around them. Then came the infamous “Read My Lips” speech from the first Bush and the final blow to “Yes, we can make a difference” was leveled upon the consciousness of the American public. From that time on, and particularly after 9/11 and the follow-up invasion of Iraq, it has been one swift kick in the pants of a hopeful vision for the future after another, including the ray of light many thought Obama would be but found it to be just another light of rhetoric. And, it all culminated with the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.
What this country doesn’t need now or ever, is another impeachment process of a president that isn’t founded on solid, substantial and irrefutable prove that the person holding the highest office in the land is guilty of a crime so dire that it requires removal from office by this last ditch process.
Yes, President Obama may be sued by the U.S. Congress, which some see as Speaker of the House Boehner’s way of shifting his responsibility to the courts. Others see it as a ploy to see if the case is successful then he and those who want this man out by any means will have enough gratis among its members to push for impeachment. If you believe the American people have become a cynical group of “change-of-life” pre-seniors now then go ahead with this process and see how quickly they can turn from indifferent computer screen/social media addicts to a viagra/hormonally infused out-of-control posse looking for a scapegoat to hang. And, that goat won’t be President Obama - no matter how much his popularity has drifted toward the negative column - it will be their federal congressional and local elected officials come election day.
Impeachment is a tool to remove those with enough verifiable and patent evidence that a public official has committed a crime. If the Congress had that evidence already Mr. Obama would already be gone.
Obama has two more years in office. You want to do him harm without destroying the nation any further? Defund his ability to do certain things while in office. Remove his resources that allow for any kind of abuse of power. And, go after his cronies. Many of them are ripe for impeachment and there is plenty of substantiation, documentation and testimonial affirmation to not only impeach but put several of them away behind bars for years. You do that and Obama's fellow Democrats in office will begin scurrying away from him like rats on a sinking ship. And the best part, the nation isn’t hurt, but is given a chance to breath fresh air for the first time in decades.