The Danger of a Political Impeachment
The Framers’ care in describing the gravity of the offenses necessary for impeachment was clearly intended to prevent what is happening today — the possible impeachment of the president by the opposing political party. If Congress could remove a president from office — in other words, overturn an election — for insubstantial reasons, it will destroy the stability of the presidential office in the future. Any time that Congress is controlled by an opposing political party, the president will be in danger of impeachment for some minor offense. Think of what would have happened if the Benghazi events had occurred after the precedent that Congress now seems determined to set. The deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, and a clearly flimsy excuse by the Obama administration that this was all caused by a film. An impeachment effort by the Republicans would have been virtually certain.
Given the precedent the Democrats seem ready to set by continuing the impeachment process on the basis of a presidential offense of such low quality, cooler heads in Congress, the public and the media should step in. Most observers, left and right, seem to take it as a given that the House will eventually impeach President Trump, simply because the House is controlled by the Democrats. But this is more than a political game; what is actually at stake is the future of the government structure that has steered this country through innumerable crises for over 200 years.
In his book “Profiles in Courage,” former President John F. Kennedy recognized as heroic the act of a single senator that prevented the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, the president who succeeded Abraham Lincoln. There was much wrong with Johnson’s rule, but Kennedy recognized that if this impeachment succeeded it would set a devastating precedent for the future. The Democrats should recognize this today, and act accordingly. Holding hearings and criticizing President Trump for what he did makes great political sense as we enter an election year, but impeaching him for bad or mistaken judgments or policies would be a grave disservice to the country.