A Brief History of Two Presidential Impeachments
I turned 57 last week. This means I have seen some history here in the United States and around the world. Among the high or lowlights of American history I have witnessed is the beginning of an impeachment against one US President leading to the only resignation of a chief executive in our nation’s history. I have also witnessed the actual impeachment of a US President and the sham of a trial that followed in the Senate. There are lessons we can learn from these two episodes in history and apply them to our current administration which has no problem committing impeachable acts with impunity.
The story of the first impeachment begins in 1972. A president wins reelection by an 18 million vote margin and gets 520 electoral votes. The opponent in this election was an unapologetic liberal who advocated increasing taxes and expanding federal social spending. In the House of Representatives, a party in opposition to the president won 242 of the 435 seats. This was a net loss 12 seats from the previous election and more than 50 seats less than the supermajority they held less than 10 years earlier. The people of the United States were beginning to wake to the costs of welfare, medicare and a war where the administration was not using the full power of our military to achieve victory. This far left party that advocated these policies was losing the support of the American people and they were at risk of becoming a minority party for the long term. This also led to a risk in ending the advancement of a Marxist agenda that this party was implementing in their legislation. Something had to be done.
Years before, this president served in the US House and on the House Un-American Activities Committee. His role led to the prosecution and subsequent guilty verdicts of several communists who had infiltrated the US government. While leftist in the opposition party tried to keep this quiet this future president rose to national fame, won a seat in the Senate and was soon nominated for and elected to the vice-presidency. The effort to root out communist infiltration was continued by a Senator for Wisconsin who was later smeared by members of this opposition party and like-minded individuals in the national media. This was our first example of an Alinskyite smear tactic used against a political enemy. To avoid being in a minority role in government, the opposition party would have to resort to this again.
I am not going to bring up for debate what this president did or did not do or whether it was worthy of impeachment. The fact is that the House committee, voted primarily along party lines on three articles of impeachment. The point of this article is, if this is the standard the opposition party uses for the level of impeachment, then the last two presidents of their party should have been removed from office as quickly as is possible for two legislative bodies to move. What is also interesting to note is the behavior of key players in both major parties during each impeachment.
In the investigation, members of the president’s own party actively participated in it rather than obstruct it. The famous line, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” , came from a senator of the president’s own party. In the vote on the articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee, 6 out of 17 members of the president’s party voted yes on article 1. On article 2, again 6 out of 17 voted yes. On the 3rd article, only 2 members of the president’s party voted yes while 2 members of the opposition party voted no. The vote was by no means a strict party line vote. After the articles made it out of committee, members of the president’s party met with him privately and encouraged him to resign before it went to the full house vote. The House Judiciary Committee voted on the articles on July 27th, and the President broadcast his resignation to the American public on August 8th.
Throughout this national ordeal, the president’s name and party became mud in the national conversation. Members of the opposition party, whose proceedings were being viewed for the first time in years in the House and the first time ever in the Senate, smeared the president at every opportunity in areas outside the issues of the impeachment. Members of the national media, including the “most trusted man in the country”, broadcast nightly of the president’s alleged crimes. There was no conservative media at the time to give an opposing view or point out the hypocrisy of the liberal party. The opposition party got what it wanted. A popular president was removed from office and replaced by an unknown to the nation. In the midterm election less than three months later, the opposition party gained 49 seats in the House and 4 seats in the Senate. They had a supermajority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Two years later, they captured the presidency and the agenda moved forward.
Move ahead 18 years and another man from the opposition party is elected president with less than half of the popular vote. The new first lady played a role as a congressional aide in the previous impeachment process. In the first two years of his presidency, he advances an agenda so odorous to the American public that the party smeared in 1974 is elected to take control of the House for the first time in over half a century. This president also had problems living within the laws and faced his own impeachment in 1998. During this year, the House Judiciary Committee voted out four articles of impeachment against this far left president. In all four articles voted on in committee, every member of this president’s party on the committee voted no. One member of the majority party crossed lines and voted no on one article making this a strict party line vote. The four articles included perjury before a grand jury, perjury in a civil rights case in which he was the defendant, obstruction of justice in the same civil rights case and perjury before Congress. This president’s guilt on these issues is not in doubt and this president later had to pay court fines and surrender his law license. However, to his party, guilt was not the issue. No members of his party met with him in private and encouraged him to resign. This president made it clear that he had no intention of resigning. Members of this president’s party resorted to defending the indefensible and members of the mainstream media did the same and smeared any member of Congress who supported impeachment. During the vote before the full house, only two members of this president’s party voted yes on any article, one from Mississippi and the other from Virginia who late switched to the party opposing this president. Two others did not cast a vote. The rest of this president’s party members voted a resounding no. The 2nd and 4th article failed to get approval before the full house because members of this president’s opposing and majority party voted no. This made the case for removal weaker when presented to the Senate. Again, in the Senate trial, members of this president’s party worked to limit the presentation of evidence and despite hearing evidence and having volumes of evidence made available to them, all voted in lockstep to vote not guilty. The lesson learned here was that the far left party will go to any length to defend their leaders, their party and their agenda. A sad footnote to this impeachment was that the articles voted on dealt with a civil rights case involving the president’s behavior of sexual harassment. They never got on issues involving foreign campaign funds, loss of top secret material to an enemy power and other issues I will leave for others to write about in the commentary section. Another thought states that this president cost his party the presidency in the next election cycle. One theory has been postulated that if this president resigned and let his vice president take over and have a year to govern, this vice president may have won that tightly contested election.
In 2008, this nation made the mistake of electing a president who had no respect for the Constitution and went about the acceleration of the Marxist agenda of weakening this country so that it is no longer a major player on a world stage. Our current president is committed to doing any impeachable act that advances the agenda and weakens our once great nation. From arming drug cartels and obstructing any investigation of it, by refusing to enforce laws enacted by Congress such as voter intimidation laws, DOMA, and border security, by endangering our troops in battle by changing the rules of engagement, by providing material and political support to an enemy committed to our downfall while failing to support the needs of those who fought these enemies for our nation, by changing the mandates and timetable of his signature piece of legislation without consulting or getting the approval of Congress, by breaking defense agreements with our allies, by using the power of government to silence political enemies, by unilaterally writing regulations without Congressional oversight that inhibit our economic freedom and our freedom to defend ourselves and by heavily arming every government agency while trying to disarm the public, this president commits impeachable offense after impeachable offense. If I omitted any, please feel free to include it in the comments. The current president and his administration do this from the lessons learned from 1998. First, this president notes that every member of his party in both houses of Congress will not cast a vote toward his impeachment no matter how criminal his administration gets. Second, this president knows that he has a wide swath of supporters in the media, both news and entertainment, that will defend him no matter who this president hurts in his actions. He knows he has an army of defenders who will defend the indefensible. Third, he knows the opposing party also knows the lessons from 1998 and will not initiate an impeachment no matter how much he hurts our country or its Constitution. As I wrote in my first article, “Path to Dictatorship”, one of the key ingredients to a dictatorship is a weak opposing party who lacks the integrity to fulfill their oaths to protect our great Constitution and depose a dictator who overstepped his limits as president.
Today, I pray daily for my country. I am sad by what I have seen over the last 5+ years of the current administration and the way the Constitutional power of impeachment has been used and not used in the last 40 years. I’m sad when a neighbor loses their job or closes their business. I’m sad when another house goes empty and unattended in my neighborhood. I’m sad at seeing empty store spaces in my local mall. I’m sad when indoctrination replaces real education in my local public school. I’m sad to see the poor of this country get poorer and still support the president and party that keeps them poor. I’m sad to hear a foreign leader state that it appears the United States of America has changed sides in the war on terror. I’m sad that friends in other countries no longer have a trust for our nation. I’m sad to read any headline regarding an action by the current administration, no matter what news source it comes from. I’m sad to see the great accomplishments of the 1980s and early 2000s reverse themselves to a state even worse than before. I’m sad to see a party I carried the banner for as a candidate in 2008 refuse to take a principled stand and war within themselves instead. Finally, I’m sad that so many people just accept the status quo and not make an effort politically to stand up to a tyrant in the way our forefathers did.