Roger’s Rules

Thoughts on 'Political Suicide' and other tales from 'Cloud-Cuckoo-Land'

Having just returned from a stimulating colloquy at a semi-secure, undisclosed location among the California redwoods — a location, moreover, cut off from the always exigent importunities of the Internet — I find that our masters in and about Washington, D.C., have continued that long-running road show “Wrecking the United States of America.”  The latest act, taking its place right alongside the three-ring circus of Appeasing Russia, Enabling Hamas, and Turning a Blind Eye Towards Iran, is the Great Disappearing Border Trick now showing in the southern most reaches of what we used to be able to call our country — you know, those bits of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona that border the land that “stout Cortes,” with eagle eyes, gazed upon lo! these many years ago. I mean, to speak plainly, the anarchic breakdown of law and order on the southern border of the United States of America and tsunami of illegal immigration orchestrated by Democrats in search of fresh dependents and future voters for their cause of destroying America.

Does that sound harsh?  Have you been paying attention?  How many millions of illegal aliens are the Democrats going to welcome and then grant amnesty to? At this point, no one knows.  The clock is still running.  Meanwhile, if Republicans block amnesty, the president has threatened to whip out his phone and his pen (or, at least, his pen) and extend amnesty by executive order.  That would be a sterling example of executive overreach, i.e., executive lawlessness, but what do you supposed establishment Republicans, those in the punditocracy as well our elected representatives, say?  Just before I went offline for a spell, David Brooks of The New York Times explained that talking about impeaching Obama was “obviously Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.”  And just yesterday, Charles Krauthammer, while acknowledging that, were Obama to grant legal status to the hordes besieging our southern border, he would be flouting the law and would have committed an impeachable offense, nevertheless said that to impeach the president would be “political suicide.”

Let’s pause over those statements for a moment.  Cast your mind back to that moment in 2013 when the Republicans decided to use the power of the purse that the Constitution vested in the House. Obama did everything he could to demagogue the situation. He cancelled tours of the White House, closed air lanes, and kept veterans out of national parks and monuments. Republicans promptly caved and swore they’d never listen to Ted Cruz again.  So Congress is no longer allowed to use its power of the purse to check executive overreach.

Fast forward to today.  The spectacle of lawlessness practiced by this administration is, or should be, breathtaking. It’s been catalogued by many observers, most crisply and exhaustively, I think, by my friend Andy McCarthy, whose book Faithless Execution is a veritable catalogue of lawlessness, from earlier immigration follies and abuse of the IRS to Obamacare and the festering scandal of Benghazi. One wit observed to me that the book ought to have been published the way some law school textbooks are, in a sort of binder format so that new cases can be added as they occur.  Faithless Execution was released in May, but already there have been important new instances of presidential lawlessness, e.g., trading five senior Taliban operatives for  one army deserter, Robert Bergdahl, new IRS follies, and right now, today, the immigration implosion.

So exactly why is broaching impeachment tantamount to booking a vacation in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land?  Why would it be “political suicide” to impeach the president even if he engages in behavior everyone acknowledges is impeachable?  Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, recently wondered in a column whether Obama wanted to be impeached. The president’s threatened action on immigration would be so flagrant an abuse of power that it would be sure to provoke a “major reaction” from Republicans.

What sort of reaction would be major?  Republicans have been cowed into renouncing their constitutionally provided power of the purse.  And the administration seems to have been pretty effective in taking impeachment of the table, too. So what’s left?  Raging like King Lear at Goneril and Regan?  “I will have such revenges on you . . . That all the world shall —  I will do such things / what they are yet I know not, but they shall be / the terrors of the earth.” Toothless bluster, in other words.

Frankly, I prefer the straight talk of folks like Sarah Palin.  I know, I know: she is supposed to be beyond the pale, and besides she didn’t attend the right schools and doesn’t wear the same sorts of eyeglasses the swell folks sport.  She is not as smooth as David Brooks, as measured as Charles Krauthammer.  But maybe, just maybe, she is right.  What then?

Krauthammer warns that it would be “political suicide” to impeach Obama, even if he engages in flagrantly impeachable behavior.  “Political suicide,” i.e., it would be bad for Republicans.  But what if not impeaching him amounted to national suicide? What then?

Andy McCarthy is right: there is no point in impeaching the president unless you can also remove him.  The way to remove him is to build the political case that his untamed lawlessness poses a grave danger to the country.  That should be front and center in any patriot’s calculation, though I am well aware that establishment Republicans would also eschew the label “patriot” as coming too close to Cloud-Cuckoo-Land and, who knows, maybe even political suicide.