As you all know, we have had two presidents impeached. Both impeachments were improper and neither resulted in conviction and remova.l Admittedly, Andrew Johnson was one of our worst presidents, but his impeachment was the result of radical Republican overreaching after the Civil War, and of course, the Clinton impeachment was a sordid attempt to derail, if not overturn, the election of a Democratic president based on trumped-up nonsense.
Let's consider the impeachment of not only a sitting president in theory, but THIS president. First of all, there is the gut-level emotional response that says this must be done. There is the lawyer's answer that it is nearly a constitutional mandate. After all, this president's course of conduct seems tailor-made for the definition of impeachable behavior laid out by the Nixon-era Judiciary Committee. They traced the English origins of the quaint-sounding "high crimes and misdemeanors" and concluded that actionable
allegations of misconduct alleged damage to the state in such forms as misapplication of funds, abuse of official power, neglect of duty, encroachment on Parliament's perogatives, corruption, and betrayal of trust. Second, the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" was confined to parliamentary impeachments; it had no roots in the ordinary criminal law, and the particular allegations of misconduct under that heading were not necessarily limited to common law or statutory derelictions or crimes....Not all presidential misconduct is sufficient to constitute grounds for impeachment. There is a further requirement-- substantiality. In deciding whether this further requirement has been met, the facts must be considered as a whole in the context of the office, not in terms of separate or isolated events. Because impeachment of a President is a grave step for the nation, it is predicated only upon conduct seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.Harm to the state and abuse of power seem like George Tenet's "slam dunk" in this case.
So--why not? There are many reasons put forth--
1) We're better than them;
2) We want reform, not revenge;
3) Two consecutive impeachments would suggest that it may be a tool for regularly overturning election results (ahem, Florida and Ohio, but that is another story for another time)
4) It's not good for the country, etc.
And then there is that huge canyon to jump, that damned Article I, Section 3:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.We just don't have the numbers, and impeaching and losing just makes you look petty and bitter, no matter how right the cause.
SO--we convene hearings, we take evidence BY SUBPOENA under oath, we cooperate with aggressive U.S. attorneys to see that war profiteers and other miscreants do hard time. But before we leave impeachment behind--Ms. Pelosi said that impeaching THE PRESIDENT was off the table, but NOT the vice president. He's low-hanging fruit, no one likes him, they have SERIOUS evidence on him that goes way beyond policy (Valerie Plame, the energy "task force," etc.), he was never really elected to anything and dammit it would feel good.