The Role of Government

President Barack Obama edits his remarks in th...

President Barack Obama edits his remarks in the Oval Office prior to making a televised statement detailing the mission against Osama bin Laden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am indebted to blogger Pied Type for bringing to our attention a NYTimes article about how president Obama has increased the use of executive power in the last two years.  It’s a good article.  It covers the history of the controversy well and I have to note how the author ends: “This is what presidents do.” I also would highlight this:

For their part, Republicans appear to have largely acquiesced. Mr. Grassley said in an interview that his colleagues were reluctant to block even more bills and nominations in response to Mr. Obama’s “chutzpah,” lest they play into his effort to portray them as making Congress dysfunctional.

I think this simply reflects reality in a nuclear-armed and politically-chaotic world. Congress is one huge bureaucratic committee of 535 members, each of whom has his/her own parochial agenda. Lacking a common threat now, like for example Adolph Hitler or the Soviet Union, I don’t think we should be surprised to find them acting like a colony of rabbits and about as easy to herd. Another symptom of this is the peculiar fact, given the founders’ intention, that since WW II America has fought at least four wars without the required Congressional declaration of war.

For better or for worse, this is the way it’s working now. To get much of anything done, the executive branch has to do it.  But underlying the whole issue is the very nature of what “it” is that we expect from government. How will the body politic react to the president’s take on that role?  That question will be answered next November. If the voters feel over-controlled and resentful, as some seem now to do regarding the Affordable Care Act, then the Tea Party just might get their chance to show us what life is like in the new Wild West.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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28 Responses to The Role of Government

  1. Jim,

    Well, the obvious elephant in the room here is the rule of law. As I tried to point out in my Op-Ed piece on the “Star Chamber,” the Constitution is rapidly becoming a casualty of war. It was Bush43, IMO, who really took the presidential authority to extremes. And Obama is following suit. Many, including yours truly, called for the impeachment of Bush due to his abuse of power and the fraud he perpetrated on the American people and the world. But Nancy Pilose sat on her butt and did nothing. Even post-Bush, Eric Holder has refused to press federal charges against Bush and Cheney, probably at the direction of Obama.

    So the stage is now set. Future presidents, knowing they will likely never be called to account for going way beyond their powers as granted by the Constitution, will go unchecked. From there it’s a short trip to Autocracy, Totalitarianism and Dictatorship. With control of the military and the backing of Big Business, there’s your Fascism. And as Sinclair Lewis famously wrote, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Now, imagine someone like Rick Perry, or Michele Bachmann, or Rick Santorum becoming president . . .



  2. ansonburlingame says:


    And thus you have shown again, the debate before us, the role of government, the federal government in particular. As the debate continues, with much gridlock, we come ever closer to pushing constitutional limits on the part of each branch of government.

    Progressives scream over Citizen’s United, a Supreme Court decision that conflicted with Congressional desires to limit political spending. The Supreme Court is poised to once again render moot a Congressional decision related to HC reform.

    When the Excuative Branch cannot get its way with Congress, we see Executive Orders becoming a larger form of Executive (not “federal”, meaning all three branches) government, by edict, not by law.

    This is not just a Democrat versus GOP debate, in my view. We have strayed now for a long time from the limited form of federal government mandated by the constitution. And now we cannot pay for the form of government so envisioned, by BOTH political parties over the last 50 plus years.

    All of those 50 year old chickens are now trying to roost in a hen house far too small and with no money to build a bigger one. France, politidcally, in now engaged in the same domestic debate taht we are and it seems like spend and borrow more until…… will become their popular decision before our Presidental election. Then watch out for the Eruo and the European Union.



  3. p.s.; To get an idea of the extent of the impeachable offences against Bush43, check out I would also note that Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) has introduced Resolution 107, which states that should the president use offensive military force without the authorization of Congress that such an act would be “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.” It is aimed at Obama.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      An interesting approach, Herb, but I suggest that Jones’ legislation won’t pass for the same reason that Congress is never jealous of the executive usurping its prerogative of declaring war. They are a committee of 535 who see no advantage in taking political ownership of any war but see much advantage in the economic benefits of the military industrial complex which is well-practiced in spreading out the pork. This dovetails nicely with the public perception ever since WW II that wars belong to presidents. I surely agree that the rule of law has failed in this regard. I predict it will continue to fail without some powerful new motivation originating in the body politic, but what that might be I have no idea.


  4. PiedType says:

    So depressing …


  5. p.p.s.; For even more on the (abuse of) power of the presidency, check out Elizabeth Holtzman’s BookTV presentation of her new book, “Cheating Justice” at It runs a little over an hour but worth the time if you’re interested in how the rule of law is being abused by occupants of the White House


  6. ansonburlingame says:

    I just checked Wikipedia for the history, etc. of Executive Orders. Presidents have been doing so since 1789. Only twice in the time have courts overruled any executive order as going beyond the bounds of the constitution, once with Truman and in 1995 with Clinton. Both cases were related to labor situations. In other cases Congress has passed laws that invalidate an Ex. Order.

    There is some, but not a lot of constitutional “permission” for such Orders. Read Wiki to see what it might be. As well, Wiki implies that ALL Presidents understand constitutional limits on such orders and the track record since 1789 indicates few cross such boundaries.

    But Obama’s statement that “If Congress won’t do it, I will” is political huff and puff. He cannot legislate laws. He can only “interpret” laws already on the books for Executive action. And if Congress disagrees with such “interpretations” they have the constitutional clout to rescind the Ex Order.

    As far as I know no Congressional act to subvert an Ex Order has ever been vetoed by a President as well. Now that would be a fire storm if such occured, for sure.



  7. Alan Scott says:

    Herb ,

    Interesting about Holder not pursuing Bush officials. I of course totally disagree. I think it would smell of a current regime going after the former regime for political gain, and would result in chaos and wouldn’t even help Obama. You do have a point though of Eric Holder failing to prosecute obvious crimes . The New Black Panthers conduct outside of a Philadelphia poll in 2008 and putting a bounty on George Zimmerman are examples .

    These blatant examples of politically motivated non prosecutions are hurting President Obama.with many voters I know who supported him four years ago . He just does not care to see it .


  8. ansonburlingame says:

    IMPEACHMENT of a President is first a legal process, clearly laid out in the Constitution. But to proceed with impeachment, politics enter the fray right from the beginning. A private citizen cannot file a federal law suit to impeach anyone in federal office. It must start in Congress.

    I suppose that is exactly why we the people have only pursued the impeachment process up to and including an impeachment trial two times in 235 years. The radical left never even came close to inititating impeachment hearings in Congress related to President Bush, not even close.

    But failure to ENFORCE the law, federal law, by the Department of Justice in ANY administration for POLITICAL reasons, is egregious in my view and in fact could well be a violation of the oath of office of members of the DOJ. The Attorney General swore an OATH to “uphold the Constitution” (and the constitutional laws that flow from same). When he fails to do so (consider Fast and Furious) for political reasons, then he at least has violated his oath of office.

    Bradely Manning, a lowly corporal in the Army will undergo a trial for violation of federal laws while serving as a member of the Armed Forces. His actions were, it seems, politically motivated, yet he faces up to life in prison for his actions, if proven guilty.

    Political actions, by a coporal in the Army on up the the President himself, and EVERYONE in between, that violate federal law should be held accountable. If no specific laws are violated but such actions violate an OATH to uphold the constitution, well that becomes a HUGE and justified political fight, in my view.


  9. Alan Scott says:


    After reading your letter, I have to admit I had no idea that violating the UN Charter was an impeachable offense under US law .


  10. Alan Scott says:

    My sincere apologies. I did get caught up in the first post and did not read your letter . But now having read it, I find it large on rhetoric and short on specifics . If you are going to berate the Speaker for failing to impeach President Bush, you might lay out detailed charges instead of going on about books being written . Impeaching a President and Vice President is very legalistic . Charges backed up by strong proof are required to even begin .

    That such a strong partisan like Speaker Pelosi did not act tells me there was no case .


  11. Two came to trial, but Nixon likely would have if he hadn’t resigned first.


  12. ansonburlingame says:


    Your letter calling for Bush’s impeachment in 2007 leaves my jaw hanging open.

    You could now write the same letter to Bohner calling for Obama’s impeachment for the same reasons, could you not? Should Clinton have been impeached for bombing Kosovo instead of lying while under oath?

    As well, going back to one of your old columns pointing out that the Constitution was never approved by a popular vote and thus implying that it should be held ???? also left my jaw hanging open. Should we now hold a popular vote to approve the Constitution as it stands today?

    As for “misleading the public trust” how about Obama telling all Americans that they could keep their old HC insurance? Many have now lost such coverage due to ACA. Did Obama lie or mislead the country?

    However I do agree with Bruce. Nixon would and should have been impeached if he had not resigned. But along the same lines, I agree with Ford’s pardon. It would have torn the country apart to prosecute Nixon after he resigned. That same line of reasoning applies to not trying to prosecute Bush officials once the administration left office.



    • Anson,

      You’ve got to be kidding me. You really think that lying about having sex with “that woman” is in the same league as sending troops to war ON A LIE where more than 4,000 of them are killed and 30,000 wounded, and more than 100,000 Iraqis, including mostly women and children, are also killed? In the words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be SERIOUS!”

      If you recall your military history, we sent a lot of Japanese and German officers to the firing squad and the gallows in the Tokyo and Nuremberg trials for doing much of what Bush and Cheney, and probably Rumsfeld as well, did in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. So, what then? Do we just blindly follow the orders of the Commander-in-Chief even when they go against the moral values of the country — not to mention when those orders are built on lies, not to mention that. These guys have needlessly and recklessly squandered the lives of Ameericans and have drained our treasury of $4 trillion and counting. As far as I’m concerned, Bush, Cheney and company have shit on the American Flag and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to sit around and not say something about it. It’s one thing to disagree over policy, but quite another to run country where the president gives to finger to the constitution and PEOPLE DIE!

      You want proof? Well, you can start by reading “The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens,” by Elizabeth Holtzman. Or you can read John C. Bonifaz’s “Warrior King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush.” Then there is always the definitive “Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney,” by Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips, and, “The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush” by Dennis J. Kucinich, David Swanson, and Elizabeth De la Vega. De la Vega also wrote “United States v. George W. Bush et al.,” which is a hypothetical trial. Even the renowned Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the wacko Charles Manson and his gang of killers in 1970, chimes in with his, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.”

      As I said, the evidence is overwhelming. But the gutless Pelosi and the equally gutless Obama and Holder decided, no, we’ll let it go because, well, it may be upsetting to some. But, unless these criminals are held to account, then the license to ignore the law and the constitution passes unabated from president to president. And, yes, that includes Obama..

      As Justice Robert Jackson, who was Chief Judge at the Nuremberg trials, once said, “It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error.” Too bad our representatives refuse to honor the citizens they are supposed to represent.



      • Jim Wheeler says:

        I must say, Herb, that you make some good points. In trying to examine the Iraq War issue objectively I am led to compare Bush 43 with Hitler’s invasion of Europe and the leadership of the Empire of Japan’s invasion of Asia. All were motivated by economic concerns, all were affected by hubris and rationalization in the leadership, all were undeterred by the principle of international sovereignty of the invaded state, something independent of its form of government. Also, all involved military and political cooperation on the part of the invaders with other countries. (Germany, Japan and Italy formed the “Axis”.)

        However there are differences. First, and perhaps most importantly, genocide was perpetrated by the Axis in WW II, and by our foe in the Iraq War, an important moral distinction. In the Iraq War there was both a public and international vetting, although it must be noted that the UN did not sanction it, even though the U.S. seized on Saddam’s foolish violation of a UN arms inspection resolution as a casus belli. Congress, even though it didn’t declare war, did condone it with a Joint Resolution following the public display of what turned out to be false intelligence. Clearly the American body politic was convinced of the propriety of the invasion and were thirsty for revenge for 9/11. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq fit the image of a fitting target because it was an Islamic nation and it had an image that was threatening – the WMD’s that turned out to be non-existent. It was all a snafu of the first order.

        Bush’s culpability, I submit, consists of willful hubris and disregard of due diligence in the nation’s interest, and particularly in allowing the CIA to play yes-man to his plain desire. But that, I also submit, does not rise to the level of “high crimes or misdemeanors”. It amounts to incompetence in the most demanding job in the nation, a job that in a representative democracy is traditionally judged not by a court or Congress but by history. Bush did not act alone, but he did lead an angry and willing nation down the wrong path, hurting us terribly with both massive debt and shed blood. But we all went together in a tyranny of the majority.

        Would impeachment now accomplish anything of value? It might serve to re-set the precedent for Congress’ responsibility for declaring war, and that would be a plus, and it would also be a good damper on future presidents prone to be quick on the trigger. However, the very effort to impeach would be viewed as partisan politics and most certainly never succeed. In fact it would make the government even more dysfunctional, if that’s possible. Ain’t gonna happen. It’s about as likely as Congress impeaching themselves (which might not be a bad idea).


        • Jim,

          I sure hope we can meet face to face one of these days. You seem like a very nice guy and, in fact, your altruism comes shining through in your posts. Sometimes, though, I’d like to see you a bit more confrontational. That is not a criticism, just an observation from an admirer.

          Now to the tough stuff. Clearly, the opportunity to impeach Bush and company became moot the minute they left office. There are some criminal charges, however, that can still be pursued. But even those, according to Elizabeth Holtzman, a former federal prosecutor, in her presentation on BookTV of her new book, “Cheating Justice,” says many of those laws were changed substantially while Bush was in office – usually in the middle of the night as amendments to other bills that would be approved – so they would expire soon after he left office (statute of limitations), or became decriminalized, or were removed altogether. Of course, none of this became public and the press never looked into it says Ms. Holtzman. But, at least Obama has not pardoned Bush, leaving open the possibility of prosecution. And there is still the possibility that murder charges (for which there is no stature of limiations) could be filed as proffered by Vincent Bugliosi.

          Therefore, I would disagree vociferously with your claim that Bush is guilty only of “willful hubris and disregard of due diligence in the nation’s interest, and particularly in allowing the CIA to play yes-man.” No, Jim, he did way more than that. Way more.

          As to high crimes and misdemeanors, there is no question that what Bush and his boys did while in office goes way beyond the minimal standards for that constitutional provision. Many of the authors and co-authors of the books I mentioned above are all legal and constitutional scholars and former federal prosecutors. I think it unlikely that they would put their reputations on the line if they thought Bush’s actions were frivolous rather than impeachable. Further, I could not find a single book or other publication that rebuts the “allegations” made by these writers.

          So, that leaves a number of international laws that Bush and his henchmen violated. And here is the nexus to the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. The defendants were out of power, but the charges applied to what they did while waging war. In any case, the Bush administration has defended its violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions by simply calling “torture,” “enhanced interrogation techniques.” I’d like to see them try that at a Nuremberg-type trial. Also, and conveniently, the U.S. has never recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. However, some legal beagles involved in international law have said that, even as private citizens, charges can be brought. (See the trials of Augusto Pinochet and Slobodan Miloševic for example.)

          Well, I’ve gone on too long. But you get my point. My concern is that as long as we let certain people be above the law because of their positions and power, we open the door to future tyrants. Think what might happen if we ever get somebody like a Manchurian Candidate in office with the freedom to ignore the law. It’s just that I just don’t like to see the Constitution become a political punching bag and ignored just because it’s inconvenient. The central question, to me anyway, is to ask, “are we a nation of laws or are we not?”



          • Jim Wheeler says:

            I like your thinking too, Herb. There is genuine pleasure when one can sense an intellectual connection with a mind open to exercise, a mind which grants the other party the respect of demonstrating that he has understood and considered the other’s opinion regardless of agreement. I wish more people were like you in that regard.

            As for the substance of your last comment, I note the complaint that Bush legally maneuvered some unspecified changes in the law so as to protect themselves, but that dodges the bottom line – if they got those things passed into law, they are still the law. Signing a bad law isn’t a crime.

            International law isn’t binding on the U.S. for the most part of course, and there is no international police force for enforcement even if there were. But I’m glad you brought up the issue of torture. Based on what I read in Wikipedia I think you have a good case. It is illegal in the U.S. under 18 U.S.C. para. 2340 as well as in international law. As for water-boarding, the assertion that that isn’t torture is something I find absurd. To me, solitary confinement alone is torture if maintained for months or years, not to mention a multitude of other and smaller torments which are routinely employed by tribes of our species on members of other tribes. The variations of this are multifarious and increase in severity with time. I would suggest that this is worthy of pursuit if I thought it had a chance, so we agree on that.

            Some day, if we don’t destroy ourselves in the interim, humanity may become one tribe at last and things like torture will be only a memoir of history. But before that can happen, Homo Sapiens will have to evolve further, both culturally and genetically because that kind of will to power and control is part and parcel of what we are today. We are in evolutionary terms a brand new species and have a long way to go, but I believe it is possible. In that regard I would like to recommend to you a book I have almost finished, Herb. I can practically guarantee you will find it interesting (except for the chapter(s) on ants and bees – you can scan that one): The Social Conquest of Earth – Edward O. Wilson (former Pulitzer-winning evolutionary biologist). I predict this will be a seminal work for popular science.



  13. Alan Scott says:

    Ultimately only the living matter in politics. The living are those in power . Once a politician is out of power it simply is not worth the effort. As much as the left wanted Obama, Pelosi, and Reid to pursue war crimes against the Bush officials , there were not going to do it . The right left Clinton alone once he left office .

    Only the present and future matter in olitics . Once Barak Obama leaves the White House in 2013 we will all wish him much prosperity on his Hollywood book tours . He can even star in Barak the Movie .


  14. Alan pretty much nails it I think.


  15. ansonburlingame says:


    I am DEADLY serious to absolutely ahbor your comparisons of an impeachable offense between Bush and Clinton. Any American citizen that stands and swears an oath to “tell the truth and only but the truth” before providing LEGAL testimony before a court or its representatives violates the LAW, the law of perjury when he LIES. Clinton did exactly that. No question that he lied. When Clinton stated that he “did not have sex with that woman” he KNEW as well that he was lying UNLESS you really think he was dumb enough to believe that a blow job was not sex, a blow job that obviously included ejaculation, to be specific!!! The only reason he got caught up in that lie was the “blue dress” and DNA!!!

    In that sense, Bush NEVER lied any more than Obama lied when he stated that no one would have to change their HC policies as a result of ACA. That was his intention, that no policies would have to be changed but he failed to deliver on his intentions. Bush I think believed that there were WMDs in Iraq, just as Colin Powell believed the same thing. Did Colin Powell LIE to the UN?

    NO WAY. He thought he was telling the truth and so did Bush, in my view.

    As well, Bush I and Bush II both had “agreement” from Congress to fight both wars. If commiting American forces into combat without a declaration of war from Congress then every President since the end of WWII would have committed impeachable offenses, every one of them, even Carter, by ordering Eagle Claw.

    Remember Democrats had a majority in the House after the 2006 election. They COULD have refered a bill of impeachment against Bush to the Senate just as a GOP majority did against Clinton earlier. But that did not happen and I for one am very glad it did not.

    And the only ones that I hear today calling for Obama’s impeachment are the real crazies on the right, just like lefty crazies calling for Bush’s impeachment near the end of his term.

    Now I suppose lefty crazies, including YOU Herb on this issue should call for the DOJ to prosecute Bush, NOW for “crimes” during his administration, right? Want to bet that if someone was crazy enough to do that Obama would not pardon Bush just as Ford pardoned Nixon, simply to keep the country from again trying to tear itself apart, politically.

    We can all argue until the cows come home as to how good or bad a President Bush was or Obama now is. But calling for impeachment of either man is simply CRAZY.


    The only argument, and it was a successful argument, was that such lieing did not rise to an impeachable offense.


    • Anson,

      Well, all I can say is that when Clinton lied, nobody died. Same with Obama, although what he said probably does not rise to the level of lie. Moral equivalency, Anson, moral equivalency. Look it up.

      As to fighting wars without a declaration from Congress, well, how’s that working out? We haven’t won a fighting war since 1945. Anyway, the issue is not engaging in war without a declaration, the issue is how the war is justified and prosecuted.

      Yes, the Democrats could have impeached Bush after the 2006 elections. But because they didn’t doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have. Did you read my letter to Pelosi?

      If Obama has done something that justifies being impeached, then I’ll be the first in line to call for it. But I haven’t seen any evidence for it. Contrast that with the overwhelming facts and supporting documentation that screamed for the impeachment of Bush when he was in office. Next time you’re in a book store, just browse through one of the books I referenced above and you’ll see what I mean. Frankly, Anson, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about regarding this subject. Therefore your comments have no credibility. Not with me.

      So you want to acquit Bush of any wrongdoing by ignoring the evidence, you don’t think we ought to follow the rule of law because it might be upsetting, you throw up strawman arguments to defend your position, and I’m the CRAZY one? Wow!

      Sorry, I have to quit writing now. I’m suddenly overcome with a bad case of cognitive dissonance.



  16. Jim,

    Touche on your point about the laws that Bush had changed to mitigate, if not eliminate, any wrongdoing on his part. You’re right, the law is the law even if it stinks.

    International law is only as binding as the offender nation will permit. The UN doesn’t have a police force or an army. However, the International Criminal Court does have jurisdiction over individuals who carried out or ordered crimes against humanity and crimes committed in violation of the Geneva Convention, mostly involving the treatment of prisoners of war such as torture and the other things that you pointed out.

    The ICC is now prosecuting a number of cases directed at former dictators of certain African countries and other parties. If Bush or Cheney traveled aborad, they might want to be very cautious. I understand that a Spanish court has asked for a warrant from the ICC for these two criminals. (Same with the Pope, but that’s for another post.)

    I too have been trying to get educated on the tribal thing. But I’m not too keen on a single tribe for mankind. Lots of difficulties there that will be hard to overcome; mainly due to the differences in value systems that vary from culture to culture and ethnicity to ethnicity. I have great regard for E.O. Wilson and have heard him of C-Span. I check out the book. Thanks.



  17. ansonburlingame says:

    To all,

    And thus again we see the increasing divide in American political thought and discourse today.

    Herb feels that Bush II should have been impeached while in office and wrote a letter to the Speaker of the House demanding such. He does not say whether he feels that Clinton’s impeachment and subsequent acquital was the “right” thing to do. And for sure he does not call of Obama’s impeachment today. But he does seem to think that Bush II should STILL be prosecuted today for his actions while President, back then.

    Jim admires Herb’s “thinking” or willingess to discuss such things, or some other form of “bonding”. I instead call such radical ideas, ideas expressed by Herb as simply crazy. I don’t use that term very often but do so herein on purpose.

    Alan got it correct in my view. Trying to gain political vengence for past political actions through the process of impeachment or legal prosecution long after the events occured is NOT the way American politics has transpired over most of the history of our Constitutional Republic.

    Politcs is “bloody” enough today. Such calls for legal punishment smacks to me of simple political vengence and does NOTHING to solve today’s problems.

    55,000 AMERICANS DIED in Vietnam. Should we have impeached Johnson? Should we have prosecuted Johnson for making “a mountain our of a mole hill” over the Gulf of Tonkin?

    What purpose would such arguments serve today? Now do you want to redebate Ford’s pardon of Nixon long ago. That was decided by American voters, again long ago. And then we got Jimmy Carter as a result. Obama only blames Bush and the “rich” today for our problems while half the country try to blame Obama. But Carter takes the “cake” cake in the blame game. He blamed the “malise” of ALL Americans back then.

    Why in the hell we debate the past with such politcal venom today and not the FUTURE in terms of how to solve our problems is beyond me.

    EVERY President in our history ulitmately tried to do what he considered best for America. Almost every President in history made errors in such judgment. But only TWO ever rose to levels of misjudgment resulting in impeachment and both were acquitted.

    I rue the day when we actuall impeach and convict ANY President for political judgments and calling for such impeachment now almost as a matter of routine (some people call for Obama’s impeachment right now) is counter to everything I have ever learned or observed about politics in America.

    Yes it is a blood sport and always has been. But it is political blood that is spilled not legal bloodletting, for political actions, by and large.

    Nixon BROKE THE LAW, severely and WOULD have been impeached and probably convicted had he not resigned. Clinton BROKE THE LAW but was acquitted. The rest is history.



    • Anson,

      According to Section 1 of the House of Representatives “A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House, Chapter 27. Impeachment:”

      “Impeachment is a constitutional remedy to address serious offenses against the system of government. It is the first step in a remedial process–that of removal from public office and possible disqualification from holding further office. The purpose of impeachment is not punishment; rather, its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government. Deschler Ch 14 App. pp 726-728; 105-2, Dec. 19, 1998, pp 28107-9.

      “Impeachment proceedings have been initiated more than 60 times since the adoption of the Constitution. 3 Hinds Sec. 2294; 6 Cannon Sec. 498; Deschler.”

      Under Section 3, Grounds for Impeachment, the House Rules read in part:

      “An offense must be serious or substantial in nature to provide grounds for impeachment. This requirement flows from the language of the clause itself–“high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Although there is some authority to the contrary, it is generally accepted that the adjective `high” modifies “Misdemeanors” as well as “Crimes.”

      “As to what constitutes a serious, impeachable offense, one commentator has said:

      “To determine whether or not an act or a course of conduct is sufficient in law to support an impeachment, resort must be had to the eternal principles of right, applied to public propriety and civil morality. The offense must be prejudicial to the public interest and it must flow from a willful intent, or a reckless disregard of duty. . . . It may constitute an intentional violation of positive law, or it may be an official dereliction of commission or omission, a serious breach of moral obligation, or other gross impropriety of personal conduct that, in its natural consequences, tends to bring an office into contempt and disrepute.”

      Now as you read these rules, it should be clear that (a) Clinton’s impeachment was totally political since his perjury had nothing whatsoever to do with his duties as President, and (b) Lyndon Johnson definitely should have been impeached for his lies during the Viet Nam war that lead to 55,000 deaths. Of course, most of the actions taken by George W. Bush to justify and then prosecute the war in Iraq clearly meet the very definition of what constitute serious, impeachable offenses. That is not an opinion nor is it politically motivated. That is a provable fact.

      So tell me, Anson, when is it OK to follow the law and when is it OK not to? When is it OK for our elected representatives to ignore their own rules? When is it OK for them to ignore their oath of office and do as they please regarding the Constitution? How much power are you going to let the presidency exercise to the detriment of our country?

      It would help this discussion greatly if you would get informed before spouting your opinions. Flying by the seat of your pants won’t get it. Some might call it crazy.



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