I’ve been teaching history and politics since the early 1990s, and the word ‘impeach’ often enters the conversation. “What does it mean to be impeached?” I ask my students. “Is it: A) to be thrown out of political office; or B) to be brought to trial (in the Senate) to determine whether or not to be thrown out of political office?”
In most years, a large number of my students – college-level, mind you – got it wrong. They were surprised to learn that B, not A, is the correct answer. That impeachment is merely an indictment, not a sentence. Many were amused as I explained that they’re not alone; that so many of those seen on TV holding up signs that read “Impeach (Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden…take your pick)!” have no idea what the word actually means.
Thanks to a rabid bunch of overzealous Republicans, jealous of President Clinton’s political successes, impeachment moved front and center into the news cycle in 1999, when the GOP-led House of Representatives impeached Clinton for perjury. The Senate, usually (but not always) the grownups on Capitol Hill – comparatively speaking, that is – did not convict Clinton. They concluded that even though Clinton technically did commit perjury, the issue about which he lied was over a personal extramarital affair he had – its embarrassing nature exacerbated in that the object of his affection was his 21-year-old intern, and that at times the affair was carried on while his wife and child were upstairs – perjury of this sort should not result in losing one’s job as leader of the free world.
The Democrat-led House in 2020 impeached President Trump not once, but twice. Let’s put it this way, those Nancy Pelosi-led loons made the Clinton impeachment crew seem as statesmanlike as our Founding Fathers by comparison. Again, the adults in the room, the Senate, acquitted Trump both times.
The only other president ever to be impeached was Andrew Johnson (not Jackson), who had been Abraham Lincoln’s vice president and took office upon Lincoln’s assassination. A Democrat chosen by Republican Lincoln to promote national unity during the Civil War, Johnson betrayed the felled Lincoln’s trust and tried to undo all the post-war Reconstruction underway. The Republican Senate, seething with anger over Johnson’s sympathy for the South’s slaveholding ways, found a loophole by which to impeach him. Johnson too was acquitted.
In our nation’s history, thus, impeached presidents are a perfect four-for-four in vindicating themselves against impeachment charges which, in Senate trials, have been argued to be one-sided partisan witch hunts.
The only potential impeachment that might have led to a conviction is the one that never was: Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal resulted in his resignation as near-certain impeachment loomed.
The larger motive behind impeachment is to throw out the sitting president. But it’s not the only tool in the box. In the case of President Obama, it was the dopey conspiracy theory that he was born in Kenya and thus was ineligible to be president. Much like the impeachment sign holders who don’t know the meaning of the word, ‘birthers’ were ignorant of the reality that because Obama’s mother was a U.S. citizen who had lived in the United States for a certain number of years, Obama would have been eligible to serve as president even if he really had been born in Kenya!
Now we turn to Joe Biden. Sure, some nuts are clamoring for impeachment (thanks, Nancy, for lowering the bar), but you can’t impeach for poor performance. Instead, they’re now arguing that he’s too old for the job. Gee, ya think?
Amusingly, some of the claptrap comes from the left. In reality, they don’t give a hoot that Biden’s too old, because he served their purpose of defeating Trump. Heck, to be rid of the orange-haired monster, they would’ve voted for a corpse. Their actual problem with Biden – try not to snarf here – is that he’s too conservative. They fantasize about a Kamala Harris or Gavin Newsome White House.
The political right, in turn, often doesn’t understand that it’s best not to slay a weak enemy, but to keep him going just long enough to beat him when the next election rolls around. When gamblers don’t pay up, for instance, bookies send thugs over to rough them up, not kill them, because if they’re dead, they can never pay. Republicans would be wise to ease up on the “Biden is old” bit. We know. But if you want to win in 2024, your best bet is to make sure he’s the nominee. The devil you know is a safer bet than the ones the left can create.
You see, the Democrats’ next hero doesn’t have to be very good, just good enough to be ‘producible’ by the mainstream media into a political superstar. Many years ago, I cohosted a highly successful karaoke show in New York City, and there was a fantastic singer there each week – let’s call her Felicia. When I first had the chance to tweak Felicia’s sound, I realized that much more than tweaking was needed. To get her to sound as great as she did involved much engineering. But her voice was ideally producible.
Similarly, all the Democrats need is a message: that Newsom is the next Jack Kennedy. That Harris deserves a second look and she’ll be Clinton and Obama rolled into one.
In any case, “throw out the president” season is well underway. The sad part is too many Americans are still going to buy the dishonest message they receive from their particular media comfort food feeding trough.