Tuesday Talk*: The Constitutional Solution

The question has now been posed in a great many less vulgar ways, but is it time for the Democrats in the House of Representatives to shit or get off the pot? If they believe that Trump has committed “high crimes or misdemeanors,” has engaged in impeachment-worthy conduct, then the Constitution offers them a means of addressing it.

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The question isn’t whether Trump has committed an impeachable offense(s). The question isn’t whether it’s a political, rather than legal, determination. The question is whether there will be more speeches, more investigations, more subpeonas, more accusations, more calls for action, all for the sake of the performance when the Constitution provides the mechanism to address the problem.

But the Senate? So what? If the House voting impeachment is dependent on the perception of the Senate’s willingness to convict and remove, it renders the House a slave to politics rather than a body of putatively principled people. At some point, a decision must be made whether the political calculus is more important than the performance of a constitutional duty.

Granted, the Senate did exactly that in its refusal to vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, and it got away with it. But that was a disgraceful act by Senate Republicans. Are the House Democrats similarly lacking in fealty to the Constitution? Is the worst the Reps can do the new bar for the Dems?

Some cynics argue that it’s in the Democrats interest to keep Trump in the White House if they’re going to take back the presidency in 2020. After all, Trump is already Trump, and will no doubt continue to be Trump, for the duration. He’s the best argument for voting Democratic, since their policies would otherwise be anathema to most Americans and stand no chance of garnering support.

If Trump were successfully impeached, the Dems would lose their best argument for a 2020 win. Is that reason enough to continue to cry impeachment while taking no action toward accomplishing it?

The alternative in the political calculus is that a failed impeachment would result in energizing Trump’s base; fail to remove him from office and make the Democrats appear weak, petty and, perhaps, wrong. Maybe the accusations of impeachable offenses are revealed to be more hyperbole than reality? Maybe Trump’s actions are a reflection not of his malice, but his “common” ignorance of the duties and norms of the presidency? Even if they’re wrong, are they understandable or forgivable? Or is he every bit as venal as the House Dems say he is. And if he is, how can they claim the mantle of integrity while doing nothing to deal with this fiend in the Oval Office?

Without an indictment from the House and trial in the Senate, there is no point in arguing about which way it would turn out now, as the political ramifications are purely speculative. Maybe the evidence will be so overwhelming that even Senate Republicans will have no option but to convict and remove.

Is it time for the House to stop playing politics and do as it keeps threatening to do, vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump? Forget the many harebrained workarounds, the investigations and lawsuits. The Constitution, Article II, Section 4, provides the mechanism for the removal of a president. Is it time to either employ the constitutional answer or shut up already?

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

18 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk*: The Constitutional Solution

    1. Grant

      What the Iron Maiden was to stupid tyrants, the committee was to Lord Vetinari; it was only slightly more expensive, far less messy, considerably more efficient and, best of all, you had to force people to climb inside the Iron Maiden.

      Terry Pratchett

      1. l. Phillips

        Ah, the dulcet tones of human vertebra crackling beneath my bony fingers. Those were the days my friend.

  1. delurking

    This is all just strategic timing on the Democrats’ part.
    1. Hold hearings for the duration of the campaign to keep Trump’s misdeeds in the news.
    2. Learn the results of the election.
    2a. If a Democrat wins the Presidency – done.
    2b. if Trump is re-elected, impeach. Maybe after the election there will be enough Dems in the senate, plus a few Repub defectors, to actually remove him.

    Perhaps the Dems have not considered what a lame-duck Trump would do with his 6 weeks.

  2. Mark

    There is a fracture on impeachment between the old guard Dems and the fresh faces. Polling points to impeachment being unpopular, so Pelosi is holding her ground on not advancing with it. After Mueller’s work turned out not to be what it was hyped to be people got burnt out on the endless investigations. The less disciplined members of the party keep banging the impeachment drums without being able to realize it would hurt them at this point and play into Trump’s hands.

    The lack of movement on impeachment isn’t so much to do with impeachment itself, but a non-unified Democratic party.

  3. Jim Tyre

    A series of House Dem things today very well may determine whether there will be formal impeachment proceedings. If the answer is yes, perhaps you’ll finally stop your whining about how nobody listens to you. There can be no doubt that moving forward will be a direct result of the House Dems hearing your voice.

  4. Jake

    Yes. Though I have also secretly fantasized that delurking is right about strategic timing.

    Until then, and to borrow some of Ken White’s rhetoric regarding everybody’s favorite internet lolcow, Jacob Wohl: Every day that Trump remains in the spotlight the chances he’s going to graduate to a big boy federal crime increases.

    1. Jardinero1

      To borrow an example from Nasim Nicholas Taleb. Does each additional day you live bring you closer to the end of your mortal life or demonstrate that you are becoming immortal? The evidence does not prove either conclusion. You could just as easily say that, each day Trump remains in the spotlight without graduating to a big boy federal offense demonstrates that he likely never will.

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