The case against impeachment

I have read a galley copy of Andrew McCarthy’s forthcoming book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, discussed by John below. The book will not be published until June 3; this is not a review. I want only to add a few comments to John’s post now that the book has become an issue.

Outside his immediate family, I don’t think Andy has admirers who think more highly of him and his books than I do, but I didn’t like this one. I nevertheless urge readers to buy it and think about if not argue with what Andy has on offer. It is at the least a thought-provoking book. Among the thoughts it inspires in me is what an unwieldy device the remedy of impeachment and removal from office is or has become at the presidential level.

Andy refers throughout to the political nature of the impeachment remedy and the lack of public support for Obama’s impeachment. He also cites Congress’s power of the purse as the first remedy for lawlessness, along with Congress’s failure to use it in Obama’s case. Why does he think the last resort of impeachment and removal from office is ripe for discussion now?

Andy doesn’t say exactly, but he must be persuaded by the merits of the case. He seems to think, or thinks implicitly, that his book can play a part in creating a groundswell. Where else does he think the impetus for impeachment might come? To me at least, the book is unclear on this point. My reaction is that the only practical remedy lies slightly in the future, with the expiration of Obama’s second term, and that our hopes and dreams should be focused on the elections of 2014 and 2016.

Somewhat to my surprise, Andy criticizes the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the book. Andy emphasizes again that impeachment is a political remedy and that the public never supported Clinton’s removal from office. He also makes the point that Clinton did not threaten the constitutional structure as Obama has. We didn’t know how good we had it.

Yet in Clinton’s case the facts were damning and undisputed. Andy makes the legal and constitutional case for Obama’s impeachment — he even drafts seven articles of impeachment, making up the last half of the book — but he does not anticipate or reckon with any case against it.

In retrospect, I agree with Andy that Clinton’s impeachment was imprudent. If it had resulted in Clinton’s removal from office after the convulsion of serious removal proceedings, it would have delivered unto us…Al Gore. By the same token, Obama’s impeachment would deliver unto us…Joe Biden. Good grief. Okay, he’s not Al Gore, but still, shouldn’t the prospect of Biden be taken into account?

I’d rather let the Twenty-Second Amendment do its work and plan for the future. Whether we like it or not, it seems to me Andy concedes between the lines of his book, we don’t have anything better.

UPDATE: At NRO, Andy acknowledges both John’s and my post with his usual grace. I hope to resume the conversation on or around June 3.

Responses