Sometimes the arrogance of the Obama White House offers a gift that is really a Trojan Horse. But sometimes, the Obama hubris presents us a piñata full of unexpected treats. Which is it this time with the impeachment question?
Obama is daring the nation to impeach him. Is this a Trojan Horse or a piñata?
Obama’s dare has provoked a vigorous debate among Republicans on the impeachment question. Even many of the most respected conservative pundits are saying it will be a big mistake for Republicans to pursue impeachment of the president at this time – even if he clearly deserves it!
I want to be completely honest about this matter: The political calculation about impeachment is a legitimate debate and a legitimate question. It is a legitimate debate because impeachment is a political process as much as a legal one: History shows that for Congress, an “impeachable offense” is what Congress decides is impeachable, and “high crimes and misdemeanors” includes crimes against the Constitution, not just offenses defined in the federal criminal code.
The Republican establishment inside the beltway has been slow to acknowledge this underlying fact, so the admission of the political character of impeachment is a welcome change for the better and a welcome debate.
Here is the question: Does Republicans’ talk of impeaching President Obama risk energizing the “Democratic base” and motivating a much higher Democratic turnout in November that will neutralize the “Republican wave” that has been building all year? That is a legitimate question, and we ought not to demonize Republicans who are asking it.
The problem is not with the question but with the answer. Too many Republican leaders and conservative pundits are accepting the answer already provided by the Obama White House instead of thinking it all the way through themselves. The correct answer is: Call the White House’s bluff and proceed with impeachment.
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The White House is bluffing when it suggests in both public statements and private Twitter messages that Democrats welcome the impeachment threat as a way to arouse a dispirited Democratic base. It is a bluff for several reasons. First, what else can they do? Run for cover and hope impeachment goes away at the very moment Obama is planning another amnesty move that even the Washington Post says is probably an impeachable offense?
Secondly, it is a bluff because the Democrats already have a plan to energize their base, and it will be implemented with or without an impeachment threat. That plan has been in the works since 2012, and it is called amnesty by edict. It is no secret Obama plans to give an administrative amnesty modeled on the “DACA” deferred deportation program to 5-to-10 million illegal-alien adults soon after Labor Day. That is designed to both energize Latino activists and provoke a Republican backlash.
The only political question to be answered is not whether Obama will do it but how Republicans will respond. Even many in the Democratic establishment are admitting that general amnesty by edict is unconstitutional and, as such, is an impeachable offense. The Republican establishment – and the conservative establishment as well – is virtually unanimous in saying, yes, it is an impeachable offense, but it is a trap, so we must not talk about impeachment.
That argument is tantamount to saying that even if Obama burned the American flag on the White House lawn, we must look the other way and pretend it is a summer picnic because the Democratic base might get offended.
What is being recommended in the name of smart politics by the Charles Krauthammers and Karl Roves of the world is a gag order on impeachment talk in the face of blatant impeachable behavior. According to this line of thinking, talking about impeachment now is stupid politically, but we can talk about it later after we win a U.S. Senate majority in November. Anyone who believes that line will shell out big bucks for a resort honeymoon on Mars in a heartbeat.
We are no longer debating what is an impeachable offense; we are being asked to look away and pretend the Constitution is not being shredded. Our answer must be: Sorry, but that is not something allowed by the genetic code of patriots.
The truth is impeachment will NEVER be the safest course or the smartest course for the political establishment, but it is the necessary course for the survival of the U.S. Constitution even if ultimately rejected by the U.S. Senate after a fair trial. We must make the case for impeachment to demonstrate that no man is above the law, not even the first black president. If we do not make that case, we are betraying the Constitution and degrading our children’s inheritance.
If we go down the road of “not now but maybe later” when Obama is arrogantly daring us by openly engaging in clearly unconstitutional acts, when will it ever by “smart politics” to threaten impeachment against unconstitutional acts by any future president? Impeachment will always be “off the table.”
There is an additional reason we must call Obama’s bluff on impeachment. The time is now, not later, to accept the challenge presented by the threat to “energize the Democratic base.” Are we really that afraid that the Democrat base can be rallied in support of blatantly unconstitutional acts but that the Republican base cannot be motivated and energized to respond in kind? Are we really that afraid to challenge presumptuous dictatorial behavior? If so, then the war is already lost and we should all stock our ammunition shelves and join a militia.
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