William Hamilton: Elections: Better than impeachment
Ryan Summerlin July 31, 2014
One hears a lot of talk among conservatives and even among some right-of-center Democrats about impeaching President Obama for failing to see that the laws of the land are “faithfully executed.” But, before the right-wing Republicans and the Tea Party get their collective shorts wrapped around the impeachment axle, it would be well to look at the current state of the Democratic Party which is, to say the least, in a state of disarray.
The far Left of the Democratic Party is unhappy with Obama because he has not yet installed a statue of Vladimir Lenin in the White House Rose Garden as the liberals have done in Seattle’s Fremont Square. The far right of the Democratic Party is unhappy with President Obama’s “fundamental transformation of America” into a European-model socialist state. They may even jump a sinking ship and vote with the Republicans in 2014 and 2016. The center of the Democratic Party wonders what happened to the hard-line national defense party of the atomic-bomb-dropping President Harry Truman and the late U.S. Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson.
One of the golden rules of partisan politics is: “Never interrupt your opponent when he or she is committing political suicide.” If you could think of one thing that would instantly reunite all the disparate wings of the currently fragmented Democratic Party, what would it be? Answer: For the Republicans to try to impeach President Obama in advance of the elections of 2014 and 2016.
Even Bill Clinton, who had actually committed a constitutionally impermissible crime — lying to a grand jury and obstructing justice — was not convicted by the U.S. Senate. Did Clinton deserve to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives? Yes. Was that a politically smart move by the Republican-controlled House? No.
Recall, in 1994, due to an almost nation-wide rejection of Hillary’s attempt at socialized medicine (now known as ObamaCare), the Republicans gained control of the House for the first time in 40 years. But, by impeaching Bill Clinton for his clearly impeachable offenses, the GOP overreached. For the next three congressional elections in a row, the Republicans lost seats in the House.
By the time George W. Bush was narrowly elected president in 2000, the GOP majority in the House was down from 25 seats to a mere seven seats and, after the defection of Sen. James Jeffords (R-Vt.), the Democrats eventually took control of the U.S. Senate. Some argue the unpopular impeachment and the failed conviction of Bill Clinton caused the GOP to lose the Senate and barely retain control of the House. You decide.
But the larger problem for the impeach-Obama-now crowd is, at present, the lack of a clearly impeachable offense and the reluctance of the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in squabbles between the legislative and executives branches.
Of course, in the months ahead, President Obama might commit a constitutionally impeachable offense so outrageous that a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Senators goes to the White House — as was the case with President Nixon — and asks him to resign or face conviction in the U.S. Senate. But don’t hold your breath.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.