Impeachment is messy and trials always fail, so censure POTUS? Is that honestly what The National Review thinks will make the Republican Tea Party look sane in voters’ eyes. Yup.
Forty years ago this coming week, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. Not long before his resignation, the House Judiciary Committee’ had approved articles of impeachment against him. The consensus is that Nixon had committed wrongs that amounted to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” specified in the Constitution for removal from office. There is general agreement among current White House critics that President Obama has not done so, with 2012 vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan being the latest GOP leader to express that view.
However, President Obama may soon change people’s minds if this fall he unilaterally suspends deportations of illegal aliens or extends work permits to them, using the excuse that Congress hasn’t passed the kind of immigration reform he would like. After all, no less a constitutional expert than Barack Obama told a Univision town hall in 2011: “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.”
President Bill Clinton remains the only modern president to have been impeached by the House, although the Senate acquitted him. At the time, I was a bitter Clinton critic. But in my role as a TV pundit, I didn’t support his removal as president. I’ve always felt that we need a middle path between routine political pummeling and ejection from office when we are dealing with a rogue executive. The House’s lawsuit against the White House for altering Obamacare dozens of times without consulting Congress is fine as far as it goes, but we need to make more use of the power of censure by Congress. In addition, a lawsuit could take years to wend its way through the courts and might not even be resolved until Obama leaves office.
Impeachment is akin to detonating a nuclear weapon on the field of politics. The American people shy away from impeachment. In a new CNN poll, fully 79 percent believe it should be reserved only for “serious crimes.” “Not only is its explicit purpose to legislatively overturn the sovereign judgment of the people at the ballot box, its impact on the work of the government, and on our domestic tranquility, is deeply corrosive,” notes Charles Cooper, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel in Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department. The OLC is tasked with acting as counsel for the president and attorney general on the constitutionality of laws and executive actions.