7 years ago, The National Review published a piece by a little known lawyer by the name of Ann Coulter. Ann had just published a book titled "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" about president Clinton. Right-Wing pulp factory Regnery Press promoted Ms Coulter's vituperations.
In light of what we now know about Libby, Rove, Cheney and President Bush's subversion of congress, lying to the American people and abuse of power , Ms Coulter proves herself a Prophet. Yes, 7 years ago, Ann Coulter made a well-stated argument for the impeachment of the president of the United States today!
Below is just a fragment of her entire article that ran September 14, 1998. I have highlighted a few phrases in bold. Just read those and it is clear that Ann saw clearly the basis for impeaching George W. Bush back in 1998!
ps--I enjoyed the comment made by Pat Buchanen at the end. Ironic, eh? ;)
For more than six hundred years, "high crimes and misdemeanors" has referred exclusively to conduct requiring impeachment. Though any serious felony will do, impeachment will not result in a prison sentence or beheading. An impeachment conviction in the Senate merely removes a statesman from his office of "honor, trust, or profit" with the United States. The criminal law is for personal punishment; impeachment is for keeping statesmen virtuous.
So, a "high misdemeanor" refers not, as it is commonly construed, to a criminal offense just short of a felony, but to simple misbehavior -- bad demeanor, if you will. As the Rodino Report during the Watergate investigation explained, "From the comments of the Framers and their contemporaries, the remarks of delegates to the state ratifying conventions, and the removal-power debate in the First Congress, it is apparent that the scope of impeachment was not viewed narrowly." Instead, impeachment has always been viewed as --among other things -- a guarantee of the moral behavior of public officials.
In the course of prosecuting one of the greatest impeachment trials in Anglo - American history -- that of Warren Hastings -- Edmund Burke said: "Other constitutions are satisfied with making good subjects; [impeachment] is a security for good governors." Burke meant "good" in the moral sense: "it is by this tribunal that statesmen [are tried] not upon the niceties of a narrow jurisprudence but upon the enlarged and solid principles of morality."
It is exactly this understanding of impeachment that underlies the phrase used in Article I of the Constitution. James Madison said the "first aim" of the Constitution was to ensure that men with the "most virtue" would become the nation's rulers. The Constitution's impeachment power was for "keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust." Or as Alexander Hamilton put it, "Men, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to render them unworthy of being any longer trusted than in such a manner as to make them obnoxious to legal punishment."
To be sure, there were differences in the practical application in Britain and the United States. Impeachments in Great Britain were often used as a weapon in the ongoing and turbulent power struggle between Parliament and the King. Consequently, impeachments tended to fall into ponderous, grand-sounding categories such as "abuse of power" or "encroachment on Parliament's prerogatives." These categories were expanded and reshuffled for use in a constitutional republic. Personal misconduct took on a larger role in impeachments, for example, and policy disputes were not areas of impeachable conduct.
Having just fought a war to get rid of a king, the framers had "the perfidity of the chief magistrate" clearly in their sights when they included broad grounds for impeachment. They discussed the Constitution's impeachment power in terms of removing a President who "misbehaves" or "behave[s] amiss," as two of the delegates put it. Madison wrote that impeachment was meant to remove Presidents for "incapacity, negligence, or perfidity."
WHAT does such presidential misconduct look like? We, of course, have a recent template. On July 27, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon. The charges against him were neatly summarized near the bottom of the indictment: "In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."
To say that Nixon was forced to resign, as so many commentators do, for acting in a manner "subversive of constitutional government" is meaningless without knowing what acts comprised that "subversion." Nixon's subversion consisted of: One presidential lie, one invocation of presidential privilege, and zero criminal offenses. One month after Nixon resigned, a prosecutor said of some of Nixon's alleged crimes, "none of these matters at the moment rises to the level of our ability to prove even a probable criminal violation by Mr. Nixon."
As Nixon discovered, the President's obligations go far beyond the requirement that he not criminally obstruct justice. Nixon talked about political audits by the IRS, but no political audits were ever conducted (except of Nixon himself). Nixon invoked one privilege one time (and this was somewhat legitimate, since the Supreme Court did in fact recognize a brand new legal privilege). And Nixon permitted his subordinates to delay one investigation once -- for two weeks.
What really did Nixon in was his long-running campaign of public deceit. The Watergate special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, said of Nixon's disgrace and resignation: "What sank him was his lying." Even President Nixon's most loyal defenders abandoned his cause when they found that he had lied. "The problem is not Watergate or the cover-up," Pat Buchanan told Julie Nixon. "It's that he hasn't been telling the truth to the American people. . . . The tape makes it evident that he hasn't leveled with the country for probably eighteen months. And the President can't lead a country he has deliberately misled for a year and a half."