Impeachment, History, and Our News Media
I have decided to not include any of my usual profanity in this post. Don’t worry, I haven’t been born-again or anything. I restrained myself because this particular post is serious. I am asking you to read and really pay attention to what I am saying. And above all, remember! Rewriting history is not always about changing facts. It is mostly about allowing us to forget things that should not be forgotten.
So, I have passively been following the progress of impeachment investigations and proceedings in the US House of Representatives. President Trump is being accused of serious ethical and moral infractions relating to his pre-election relationship with Russia, and a myriad of other subsequent offenses. Additionally, he is being accused of paying hush money to two women we was having an affair with. Some of the payments occurred while President. I am positive I don’t need to go into all of the particulars, as it is a well-publicized story.
To be honest, from the far outside looking in, it appears that the whole song and dance is just that; a song and dance. It just feels politically motivated.
And why shouldn’t it?
No, wrong question. Here is a better question. Why should this impeachment attempt feel any different than any of the others I have witnessed over the last thirty years?
Other impeachments you ask? I’ll get to that.
First though, let me explain the process. This is the quick and dirty description of the laborious process for impeaching a sitting President.
Articles of Impeachment have to be drafted and presented in the House of Representatives. They are then referred to the House Judiciary Committee to determine if hearings must be held.
Hearings commence, and if necessary, special counsel is appointed.
Findings are presented to the main body of the House.
A simple majority vote is performed to decide impeachment.
If impeached, the case goes before the Senate.
The Senate, with Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding, will then call witnesses, examine, cross-examine, and ultimately convict or acquit.
I have been, as I said, passively monitoring our major news outlets over the last few months. And in all of that time I have not seen anyone make the one statement that would really cast the whole process of impeachment in the appropriate light. Not one person in the media has said the only thing that really matters.
The one important statement I have been looking for?
Ok. Brace for it.
Every President since Ronald Reagan has had to endure impeachment hearings.
I’ll let that hang a moment.
Every single person elected to the highest office in the United States, since Ronald Reagan, has had to undergo, at the very least, impeachment hearings and the drafting of articles.
Ronald Reagan: A Representative from Texas drafted articles of impeachment over Mr. Reagan’s involvement in the Iran Contra Scandal.
The result: The special prosecutor could not determine the President’s level of involvement. The inquiry died with the indictment of 11 senior officials.
George H.W. Bush: The same Democratic Congressman who introduced articles of impeachment against President Reagan also attempted to impeach Bush senior over what he deemed were unconstitutional acts that led to the Gulf War in 1991. And when the first attempt failed, he tried again.
The result: The hearings never produced compelling evidence.
Bill Clinton: Months before the Lewinski scandal blew up, articles of impeachment were proposed to the House of Representatives concerning Mr. Clinton's alleged receipt of large campaign donations from China. And then of course, the Lewinski thing happened. That took center stage.
The result: The China inquiry was set aside in favor of articles of impeachment with teeth. The Lewinski Affair had legs, and the Republican-held House ran with it. Mr. Clinton was impeached by the US House of Representatives, but the Senate acquitted President Clinton.
George W. Bush: Articles of impeachment were introduced concerning the unilateral actions the President took in beginning the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
The result: The accusations died in the hearing phase.
Barack Obama: Articles were suggested, but never introduced concerning the Obama Administration’s alleged cover-up of the Benghazi Attack. Additionally, articles were drafted against Mr. Obama, but never formally presented, concerning the CIA Drone Program, his country of birth, IRS targeting of conservatives, transgender bathrooms, and abuse of executive power.
The result: No articles were ever formally presented due to volatile and divisive effects such accusations would have had on the political parties.
Donald Trump: To date, seven articles of impeachment have been presented to the House. From abuse of executive power as it related to the Muslim Travel Ban, to the latest allegations regarding payments to two women and Russian involvement in our election.
The result: Pending.
But the point is, this is not a new thing. Attempting to impeach a President is not a fresh and unprecedented process. So I don’t understand the excitement. The fervor in the media. The frenzy on social media. The op/ed columns in the traditional papers.
Why are we acting like this is going to go somewhere? Historically speaking, they have a 22% chance of getting it done. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton being the only Presidents to be successfully impeached. (Cannot include Nixon because he resigned before the House vote could be taken.) Furthermore, they have only an 11% chance of getting Mr. Trump out of office, if history means anything at all.
But let’s be honest with ourselves. This is not about actually removing a sitting President from office. It can’t be. The Democrat-controlled House has to know that an impeachment, as it is now, will never get out of the Senate.
That is why Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, in an interview with The Washington Post, that she is not for impeachment. She said it is too divisive, and will serve only to strengthen the President’s base, when it fails. I’m paraphrasing.
So, why are we performing this charade? If we couldn’t get Bill Clinton out of office for banging an intern in the freaking Oval Office, how can we expect to remove Mr. Trump for anything short of nuking Cleveland?
And am I the only person who remembers our recent history?
I am going to make a blanket statement, and feel free to fire back if you disagree. But, come with facts if you do.
My statement: Impeachment has become a new rite of passage for our nation’s Chief Executive. It means nothing. It’s a joke. We have allowed our divided and broken political system to parlay the impeachment process into a stunt for political gain. Because its a tantrum.
All of these impeachment attempts over the last 30 plus years (with the exception of Lewinski-gate) are rooted in childishness. The other side is infuriated that they lost the election. And no one shakes the hand of their opponent and walks away from a loss anymore. Instead they walk away plotting and planning and scheming. The mentality seems to be “OK, you won. Let’s see if you can keep it. Let the games begin…”
I’ll be waiting for rebuttals.