Friday, June 14, 2013
Is Impeachment An Option?
Opinion Commentaries by Harris Sherline
Is Impeachment An Option?
Recommendations from various pundits and politicians about President Obama’s tax and health care initiatives have recently turned to the notion of impeachment. As tempting as that may be to Obama’s critics, my own reaction is
that they should be careful what they wish for.
Impeaching a sitting President is not a simple matter.
A May 2013 USA Today article headlined, “No, Obama won’t be impeached,” discusses the reasons why:
“First, a reality check: The Republicans currently control only 45 seats in the U.S. Senate and would therefore need to persuade 22 members of the Democratic caucus to vote to oust a president of their own party in order to reach
the two-thirds majority the Constitution requires.
“In fact, all three of the serious impeachment drives (against Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99 occurred when the president’s opponents controlled both houses of Congress by hefty margins.”
“Given the virtual impossibility of winning an impeachment fight, any Republican efforts would be suicidal. A failed attempt at removing the president would only confirm the negative image of the GOP as hyperpartisan radicals more
interested in scoring political points than working to address the nation’s problems.”
“A Republican attempt at terminating the Obama presidency would also enable Hillary Clinton to reprise her role as the loyal, long-suffering help-mate working to protect a political partner unjustly persecuted by ‘a vast right-wing conspiracy.’”
“…in addition to letting Clinton off by aiming squarely at her boss, any impeachment drive could also boost the stock of another potential Democratic candidate, Vice President Biden.”
“…with no chance of success, even conjecture about impeachment ultimately serves to boost Obama. A series of scandals that looks increasing dire – on Benghazi, the IRS improperly seized phone records from reporters and assorted
prevarications with the press and public – would still allow Obama a sense of victory and exoneration when he inevitably survives. Serious talk of impeachment makes any outcome less than that look like vindication.”
It’s important to understand what’s involved in impeaching a sitting President. Here’s how it works:
1. “The President…may be impeached and removed (from office) only for ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors…Several commentators have suggested that Congress alone may decide for itself what constitutes a
‘high crime or misdemeanor’…In 1970, then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford defined the criterion as he saw it: ‘An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.’”
2. “The impeachment process is a two-step procedure: The House of Representatives must first pass, by a simple majority of those present and voting, articles of impeachment, which constitute the formal allegation or allegations. 
Upon their passage, the defendant has been ‘impeached.’ Next the Senate tries the accused.”
3. “To convict the accused, a two-thirds majority of the senators present is required. Conviction automatically removes the defendant from office.”
Although the process seems fairly straightforward, if Obama were to be “impeached,” it’s important to consider who’s next in line to assume the office. 
First would be Vice-President Biden. Does anyone think he is capable of leading the nation? Many observers view him as a “clown,” given to shooting from the lip with statements that are not only embarrassing but might be
demeaning to the office of President.
After Biden, the leader of the House of Representatives would be next in line. During Obama’s first tem that would have been Nancy Pelosi. Enough said.
The current leader of the House is Representative John Boehner (R-OH), whom the Democrats surely would not support.
So, all the talk about impeaching the president notwithstanding, it’s clear that it’s not going to happen.
As they often say in police stories, “There’s nothing happening here, move on.”
Like it or not, the nation is stuck with Obama until after the next Presidential election in November 2014, after which he will remain in office until January 9, 2015, when the next President assumes the office.
Obama will then be in what is generally termed “lame duck” status, and he will probably issue a series of “Executive Orders” to lock his agenda in for the foreseeable future. 
Congress might attempt to overturn an Executive Order by passing legislation to reverse it, but the President can also veto such a bill.
© 2013 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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