I am a huge fan of Gov. Sarah Palin. No, I don’t think she should be president (or vice-president) but she certainly could not have done worse than the present occupants of those two offices. My enthusiasm for Ms. Palin is based on her ability to give relentless and unapologetic voice to a vast swath of the populace generally ignored by a press corps that believes that all wisdom is found within a sixty mile swath surrounding Washington, D.C.
And even more so because of her ability to drive liberals crazy – and I mean stark raving, red-in-the-face, frothing-at-the-mouth, snot-slobbering, eyes-rolled-back-in-their-heads, hair-pulling, shut-the-door CRAZY. Ms. Palin gives liberals the opportunity to exercise all of that pent-up sexism they have had to repress in the name of “political correctness.” She fuels the rage they feel when they see an attractive woman espousing conservative ideas and realize they are stuck with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as their “public face.” It is the opportunity for us to laugh uproariously at their hypocrisy.
To make the point, at a reception we attended recently a liberal friend of mine (yes, I have them) approached me and almost immediately began his vigorous condemnation of Ms. Palin. My friend is normally an intelligent, soft-spoken and thoughtful person but, like so many liberals when discussing Ms. Palin, he abandoned reason almost immediately. He started by asserting that Ms. Palin had cost Sen. John McCain dearly in the Republican presidential primaries of 2008. I reminded him that Ms. Palin did not appear on the scene until the Republican National Convention – well after the end of the primary season. Undeterred he than asserted that Ms. Palin had hurt Mr. McCain significantly in the presidential election. I responded by indicating that there was no proof of that and that given the extraordinary dislike of Mr. McCain by conservatives, such as myself, the probability is that many conservatives who would have otherwise stayed home turned out to vote for Ms. Palin and the Republican ticket thus decreasing the margin of victory for President Barack Obama. But like a “super ball” caroming off at odd angles, he continued an attack that became more rabid and less coherent until my wife, gratefully, extricated me from the discussion.
And all of this occurred prior to the point to be made in this column.
Recently, Ms. Palin called for the impeachment of Mr. Obama. She reiterated that call in a speech before the 2014 Western Conservative Summit in Denver this past week and, as reported in the Denver Post, upped the ante by challenging members of Congress:
A recent Huffington Post poll indicated that thirty-five percent of Americans thought Mr. Obama should be impeached. Independents were evenly divided while nearly seventy percent of Republicans concurred. (Not surprisingly these are about the same numbers who thought President George W. Bush should be impeached in 2007 with Democrat and Republican roles reversed.) It might be said that popular sentiment towards impeachment, in both cases, is reflective more of the populace’s inability to effect change in the conduct of their leaders than it is a demand that the serious consequences of the United States Constitution be invoked.
Let’s understand a few things about impeachment. First, the process is purely political – not a civil or criminal process. The Constitution states in Article II, Section 4:
So political can the process be that during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, Hillary Clinton, then a lawyer for the Watergate Committee, sought to deny Mr. Nixon access to counsel for the proceedings. Downtrend.com interviewed her then-boss, Jerry Zeifman, about it and wrote about Ms. Clinton’s brief asserting that there was no “right to counsel” for the president during an impeachment proceeding:
“’As soon as the impeachment resolutions were introduced by (then-House Minority Leader Gerald) Ford, and they were referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the first thing Douglas did was hire himself a lawyer,’ Zeifman said.
“The Judiciary Committee allowed Douglas to keep counsel, thus establishing the precedent. Zeifman says he told Hillary that all the documents establishing this fact were in the Judiciary Committee’s public files. So what did Hillary do?
“’Hillary then removed all the Douglas files to the offices where she was located, which at that time was secured and inaccessible to the public,’ Zeifman said. Hillary then proceeded to write a legal brief arguing there was no precedent for the right to representation by counsel during an impeachment proceeding – as if the Douglas case had never occurred.”
Mr. Zeifman subsequently fired Ms. Clinton for lying and unethical conduct. He has opined that if she had done the same thing in front of a judge she would have been disbarred. It wasn’t the last time that public documents that contradicted Ms. Clinton’s view of the world disappeared – it is, in fact, an oft-repeated act that shields Ms. Clinton from accountability.
The point is that impeachment is an arbitrary process and subject to the whims and caprice of politicians – some, who like Ms. Clinton, are more than willing to exercise that power to advance their political purposes rather than to protect the nation. The nation is better served when the process brings forward “men/ women of the moment” who act solely for the benefit of the nation.
Watergate involved a third-rate burglary and a subsequent massive attempted cover-up. The investigation demonstrated that the burglary was led by Administration personnel and that the cover-up was led directly by Mr. Nixon and his senior White House staff. When Congress impeached Mr. Nixon, the nation was well served by the likes of Sens. Sam Ervin (D-NC) and Howard Baker (R-TN) who stuck to the facts, put the nation’s interests before their ambitions and secured an orderly and transparent process designed to reassure the citizens as much as secure the removal of Mr. Nixon.
We are not there yet with regard to Mr. Obama. The actions leading up to and after the assault on the Benghazi embassy and murder of the ambassador and three others; the use of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to silence political opposition; and the use of the National Security Administration (NSA) to spy on American citizens, individually or collectively, if tied directly to Mr. Obama or his senior staff, are more than sufficient to justify Mr. Obama’s impeachment and removal. But we are not there yet.
And we aren’t going to get there so long as members of Congress dither and refuse to authorize a special counsel. (I would prefer that Mr. Obama acknowledges that his presidency has failed, that his accomplishments were based on a series of lies, and that he lacks both the skills and the interest to continue and, therefore, resigns. An honorable man would do thusly, but this is Mr. Obama and he can neither recognize nor act honorably.)
Which brings us back to Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin is not a member of Congress. She cannot introduce a resolution of impeachment, open an investigation, hold a hearing, vote on articles of impeachment or sit in judgment in a trial of impeachment in the Senate. She is a private citizen. But by virtue of her popularity, her personality and her insistent demand for accountability, her megaphone is a lot bigger than most. And she is using that megaphone quite appropriately to demand action by those in power.
It is premature to say that Mr. Obama should be impeached. But in the meantime Ms. Palin – You Go Girl.