WASHINGTON, September 15, 2014 – How many scandals and criminal acts, each sufficient in itself to be a “high crime or misdemeanor” worthy of impeachment hearings, have been swept under the official Rug of the United States in the past five and a half years? And why has not one of them brought out the rage the nation experienced after Watergate, or even after the perjury and witness tampering in the Lewinsky era?
Perhaps it’s because we don’t have just one crime to focus on. President Clinton weathered Waco, but got tripped up by his official lies as he covered up one of his several affairs. Richard Nixon’s lying about “a third-rate burglary,” was another inescapable mess. The nation’s discourse centered on these acts. The media kept pounding, public opinion coalesced, and eventually Congress listened. Nixon resigned without even an official impeachment proceeding; Clinton was impeached, but stayed in office, behind a rigged Senate that produced an incredible 99-0 vote.
But what happened after Fast & Furious blew up, when the nation finally learned of the illegal arming of Mexican drug cartels by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, an egregious crime and thoroughly stupid tactic that resulted in dozens of deaths, including that of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry? We never even noticed when Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, who claimed to not have been the shooter, nevertheless plead guilty in 2012 and was sentenced earlier this year. The rest of the 1400 lost weapons? They remain lost. Who’s looking for them? Mexican drug lords, or maybe O.J. Simpson is helping Eric Holder track them down.
When the president was caught making illegal recess appointments and slapped down by a 9-0 Supreme Court in NLRB v Noel Canning this June, all that happened was that the appointment process (misinterpreted for decades, but never to this extent) was reaffirmed. The president faced no censure, no indictment.
The actual language of the Constitution (Article II, Section 2) reads: “The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.” Thus, vacancies may be thus filled only when the vacancies occur during the Senate’s recess. He does not have the blanket authority to make such appointments during a recess, though precedent exists for this illegal tradition. In any event, he is the first president to simply declare that the Senate was in recess, when the Senate itself said it was not.
The president made passage of his landmark nationalization of healthcare the apogee of his reign. When it proved unworkable, he simply went through the law, declaring various passages moot, changing deadlines, and granting special loopholes to crony groups. As a senator, Obama had little in his legislative resume; as President, he seems to think he’s a legislator.
The problem, legally, is that he can’t do this. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution concludes with the presidential oath of office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” When he rewrites and revises laws duly passed, that he himself signed into law, he is in clear violation of the highest law in the land.
Where does one start with the IRS? Almost immediately upon Obama’s taking office, the IRS started to impede applications for tax-exempt status placed by organizations that, had patriotic names, or promoted the Constitution, small government, or low taxes. Years of cover-ups, destruction of evidence, and obvious lies have produced… nothing from the president. Nothing, even, from the IRS. And this did not blow up as it should, because Americans’ attention was directed elsewhere.
Whatever Edward Snowden is, his revelations exposed widespread violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by the National Security Administration (NSA), some of which were long-standing, but all of which continued or escalated under Obama’s rule. The CIA and FBI are implicated in certain parts of these activities, but something else grabbed the spotlight.
One of Senator Obama’s campaign admissions and promises involved the sad state of affairs at the Veterans’ Administration. When, after five years in office, some VA doctors and other whistle-blowers went public with the declining service at the VA, Obama fired a competent cabinet minister and declared the problem solved. Then America looked at the southern border, only to see that it was unattended.
Failing to execute the nation’s laws is a crime. Obama’s stand-down orders on immigration enforcement are themselves crimes, and he’s guilty. When he released five of the most-dangerous inmates at Guantanamo in exchange for an enlisted man (Bowe Bergdahl), he explicitly and brazenly broke another federal law.
Any one of these, and many other crimes, are the “high crimes and misdemeanors” alluded to in the Constitution. Why are none of these being prosecuted?
Quite aside from the terrible ideas, bungled “red lines,” and other “stupid stuff” that have cost American lives and treasure, these explicit and obvious crimes should land Joe Biden in the Oval Office, and Barack Obama in Leavenworth.
Why, then, has none of these disasters resulted in any indictment or prosecution?
Precisely because there are so many of them. The Administration is manufacturing and stumbling into so many crimes and disasters, that we don’t have time to look at them all, much less concentrate on one of them.
These crimes, plus other serious and diversionary disasters that are not presidential crimes, but are serious distractions – Benghazi, beheading, a Marine held in Mexico because he could not make a U-turn, a “license to kill” American citizens without trial from the sky, watching Russia take over Ukraine, an economy at the limits of crony capitalistic corruption and a widening income gap, the highest food stamp population and lowest labor force participation rate, a weakening dollar, insurmountable national debt – keep us distracted.
There is, as the saying goes, so much, um, stuff on the wall that we are not paying attention to the pattern on the wallpaper.
President Obama will not change, He will not pay attention to the Constitution, nor will he suddenly become lawful or useful. He will not address the problems he loves creating.
Given that no Democrat will do anything to cross the president, we turn across the aisle and see that the Republicans are but slight hope. Mitch McConnell – has anyone even seen him, the past few years? And Speaker Boehner is so far behind the curve that he is politically paralyzed. Perhaps he’s not up to it, overwhelmed by the sheer number of these distractions and crimes, unable to do his job. Only a lot of noise from a lot of citizens will get his attention. Maybe we need to pull the plug on his soundproof tanning bed.