One of my strengths as a blogger, I think, is my ability to draw connections where none are readily visible. It often leads me astray, making links where none exist, but every now and then it steers me right.
Today, I’m seeing a pattern that has me deeply troubled. And it’s in the actions of President Obama.
In no particular order:
The Un-War in Libya. President Obama ordered the armed forces of the United States into combat against a sovereign nation without a declaration of war, without any kind of approval from Congress, or even without formally notifying Congress that it was going to happen. This is in direct violation of the War Powers Resolution Act, which says that the president can only do so when there is an imminent threat to the United States or our interests. Historically, no president has ever officially accepted the Act as binding (it was passed over President Nixon’s veto), but no president has ever openly challenged it, either.
The “Czars” Signing Statement. When President Obama signed the recent budget deal, it included a ban on funding for specific advisors and offices that he had appointed without Congressional approval. But as he signed it, he specifically said that he did not believe that provision was binding on him. Similar to above, this is nothing new — all recent presidents have used signing statements to lay groundwork for future challenges to laws. But also like above, that potential has never been explored before — but Obama is likely to openly challenge this one, too.
The plan to impose the terms of the “Disclose Act” by executive fiat, after it was defeated in Congress, the Courts, and at the FEC. This one is unconfirmed, so it should not be considered as another solid example, but it’s entirely consistent with the rest. Such an overarching policy should be treated as law, but it failed there. So apparently the Obama administration is weighing the possibility of just saying “make it so” all by their lonesomes.
The apparent scuttling of anti-terrorist criminal investigations and prosecutions of suspected terrorists for political gains. This one is truly ugly. It’s alleged that the Obama/Holder Justice Department, in an attempt to curry favor with America’s Muslims, engaged in such aggressive “outreach” to key radical Muslims in the US that they actually compromised investigations into those radicals’ activities.
The EPA’s refusal — apparently with the White House’s blessing — to comply with Obama’s Executive Order requiring all agencies to analyze and report on the effect of regulations on employment. Here, we have Obama issuing an order that was apparently only for public consumption, not to actually be taken seriously. But those orders have the force of law, and unless Obama issues another order saying “just kidding!,” then the EPA is in legal trouble.
These are just five examples. There are others. But there’s a common thread here, tying them all together: each has the potential to trigger a Constitutional crisis, a direct conflict between the Executive and the Legislative branches.
The ultimate expression of that conflict is the impeachment of the president.
Which brings me to what should be an unthinkable possibility:
Does Barack Obama want to be impeached?
On the face, it sounds absurd. But I can construct two scenarios under which he just might.
In the first, it would be a way for Obama to leave the office. It’s been clear for some time that he’s largely disinterested in the office. Oh, he loves the perqs and benefits and attention, but he’s bored and annoyed with the responsibilities and burdens and obligations that go with the office. Impeachment would allow him a way to leave office — and in a historic fashion, as he would be the first president to be removed from office. Plus, it would allow him to spend the rest of his life claiming victimhood, how he was pushed out of office by his political enemies.
In the second, Obama could be looking at the Clinton administration for historical precedent. Bill Clinton’s impeachment was the lowest point of his administration — but when he won acquittal, it ended up as one of the biggest net pluses for his career. Clinton’s impeachment ended up giving his opponents a huge black eye, and they are still being cudgeled over it.
Practically speaking, an impeachment of Obama is doomed to fail. Oh, sure, the House could impeach, but there’s no way in hell the Senate would vote to convict. Obama’s alienated a lot of his base, but nowhere near enough to put him at any risk here. Even if all 47 Republicans vote to convict, there’s no way that 20 Democrats (counting the two “independents,” Lieberman and Sanders, as Democrats for this purpose) would vote to remove Obama from office.
But the mere attempt could galvanize support for Obama like little else could. And all those people who insist that any and all criticism of Obama is a form of racism would totally lose control of themselves in glee.
“When you strike against a king, be sure to kill him.” This is very sound advice for two reasons. The first is, hell hath no fury like a wounded king lashing back at his assailants. Secondly, failed attacks against a king tend to rally support behind that king, if only to demonstrate their loyalty to the crown.
So no, impeaching Obama would be a disastrous move, tactically and strategically. But it really looks like Obama is pushing for such a move, calculating that it would do him far more good than harm.
What must be done is to fight back against his pushes on a case-by-case basis ,challenging his unconstitutional moves one by one, and reserving the “big guns” for lesser targets. Eric Holder, for example, is a particularly low-hanging fruit. And it’s not like Obama has demonstrated a great deal of loyalty to his allies and minions in the past; he might not even notice if Holder is forced out of office until he’s forced to name his successor.
Plus, there’s always the possibility that the longer Obama is denied his impeachment, the more aggressive and reckless and offensive he’ll grow, and might even push enough Democrats into abandoning him and going along with removing him from office. Yeah, it’s a long shot, but why rule out the chance?