Impeaching Bad Presidents Should Be No Big Deal
Impeachment we’re told is similar to a coup d’etat. It’s a dangerous distraction from the business of government, that it’s going to cause national trauma, a constitutional crisis, and even a second American Civil War. There’s no reason to believe any of this. Nobody likes to get fired right, but if there’s any country on earth that’s pretty comfortable with the idea that people can be fired it’s the United States of America. Not only are we basically okay with this, America actually pioneered the idea of firing people as entertainment. You’re fired. Now people often say that you know the presidency is such an important job, it’s such a powerful office that we depend on, it’s so much that the bar to removing a president should be very high. It seems to me you know the logic works in the opposite direction. Somehow we’ve decided that the one job in America that gets the most job protection is the one where you actually get nuclear weapons, which doesn’t seem at all sensible. It’s time for this madness to stop, to put this behind us, so the Congress can get on with the real issues. We should be tackling, real problems. We could have lower prescription drug prices today but Pelosi won’t bring those bills to the floor because she’s infatuated with impeachment. And we are voting today perhaps to paralyze our government. Yeah we always hear that impeachment might paralyze the federal government which, you know for some of us isn’t the most terrifying prospect. The fact is the business of government, for good and for ill, goes along more or less as it has been during an impeachment process. In fact just before Thanksgiving the Congress voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act and extend NSA surveillance and metadata collection. So for better or for worse impeachment does not paralyze the federal government. This is a modern-day coup d’etat, Mr. Speaker. It’s not easy to make a coup attempt boring, but the Democrats found a way. It’s a sham, a witch-hunt, and it’s tantamount to a coup. They have wanted to reverse the course of the 2016 election. The impeachment would only reverse an election if it installed Hillary Clinton, in this case, instead of Mike Pence. And what kind of coup is it that replaces an elected president with is also duly elected hand-picked running mate? I hope that we will finally move past this nightmare. It’s the political equivalent of capital punishment. I’m afraid it will cause a civil war-like fracture. These chambers will become the incinerator of the Constitution. Our long national nightmare. A lot of people really do think this is a national nightmare or some kind of regicide. Something, something that we should only do in fear and trembling. The framers weren’t nearly this emo about impeachment. Impeachment is a legitimate, peaceful, constitutional process by which the people’s representatives decide to give the president an early retirement before his term is up. Our limited experience with presidential impeachment shows that they tend to demystify the presidency. You are reminded that these are extremely flawed human beings and we’ve suffered no discernible harm from our three prior serious attempts at presidential impeachment. And at least one of them did quite a lot of good. I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Post-watergate Congress’s didn’t stop at driving Richard Nixon from office. They addressed a lot of the abuses that he and his predecessors had committed while he was in office. You had a strengthening the of the Freedom of Information Act. You had the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to restrict government spying. You had the War Powers Resolution, the National Emergencies Act, the Impoundment Control Act, all of these flawed but sincere efforts to put the presidency back in its box, and make impeachment serve as what it was supposed to be, as the Federalist Papers tell us, a bridle in the hands of the legislative body on the executive servants of the government. And the framers of the Constitution are rolling over in their graves crying out from heaven. Some of the same people who talk about, you know, the wisdom of the framers, talk about the impeachment power as if the framers just decided to hard wire in a doomsday device into the Constitution. The framers didn’t look at it that way, they saw impeachment is a necessary constitutional safety valve, or something like an emergency brake on a train. It’s not something you want to use on a weekly basis, but it’s nice to have it around when you need it. Ben Franklin at the Constitutional Convention thought that including an impeachment power was actually favorable to the president. It provided for regular punishment of the executive when his misconduct deserved it, and for his honorable acquittal when he was unjustly accused. I think that’s the way in which we should look at it today.