WASHINGTON, July 3, 2014 – After berating Congress last Saturday for not following his lead on a number of issues, Monday Barack Obama announced that he was taking unilateral action on the issue of immigration reform. In the Rose Garden, an appropriately stern-looking Joe Biden at his side, the president said that he will be taking action without the approval of Congress to address illegal immigration and immigration reform issues.
The way Mr. Obama frames the issue, since the House of Representatives won’t pass a bill he likes, he is “forced” to take action himself. Throughout history, tyrants have repeatedly been forced to take unilateral action when legislatures would not bend to their will.
In England, Charles I had dissolved three parliaments by 1628, when he simply began to rule without Parliament at all for eleven years, a period that ended with the English Civil War. Whig historians sometimes called this period the Eleven Years’ Tyranny.
These Whig opponents to the king and Puritans seeking religious freedom left England and settled in the American colonies. When we finally broke with Great Britain, we wrote a Constitution that did not give the executive the power to rule without the legislature.
Charles I lost his head over his disagreement with Parliament. The worst that is likely to happen to Barack Obama is that he could be impeached and removed from office.
The recent book by Andrew McCarthy, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, lays the framework for what would have to happen for Obama to be impeached. Released at the end of May, McCarthy’s book doesn’t even address what has happened in the last month.
READ ALSO: Andrew McCarthy: Faithless Execution
Domestically, the Veteran’s affairs debacle, the lost IRS emails (followed by the emails of other agencies), and an immigration crisis sparked by non-enforcement of our borders stand out. On the same Monday that he declared he would go it alone on immigration policy, the president was rebuked twice by the Supreme Court. The Court has ruled against the administration 13 times with a 9-0 margin.
Internationally, Russia is still after the Ukraine, Iraq is fracturing along ethnic lines, and Israel is threatened. Our enemies are emboldened and our friends distrustful.
Yet failure of policy is not enough for impeachment. McCarthy’s book makes clear that the basis for a charge of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is as much political as legal—maybe more.
Legal bases would include the general themes of a failure to faithfully enforce the laws—the basis for the title of the book. Arbitrarily changing the deadlines of the Obamacare law is but one example. Failure to enforce immigration law led directly to the crisis on the southern border.
That’s the legal part, and it is all too easy to prove. But a key to the political dimension is whether the American public would support impeachment.
Would we? The signs are not altogether good for the occupant of the White House.
Take the issue of truthfulness: 52% of the American people believe Mr. Obama lies to us. On Monday he claimed that the “majority” of Americans are united in a belief that immigration reform is needed; polls show precisely the opposite. A Quinnipiac poll released today says Americans rate Obama as the worst president since World War II. A Billings, Montana, newspaper that endorsed him in 2008 now says he’s worse than Nixon.
The attitude he exudes in the middle of all this can perhaps best be described as defiant. Perhaps he really believes his own propaganda. On Tuesday he said,
“As long as they insist on taking no action whatsoever that will help anybody, I’m going to keep on taking actions on my own…So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.”
Taunting Republicans to sue him may not be as crazy as it sounds.
House Speaker Boehner is making plans to sue the president for non-enforcement of the law, but it is a weak remedy. The courts are not about to give standing to the Congress; they are not about to get in the middle of a contest between the other two branches of the federal government.
McCarthy agrees: the two remedies that the Congress has are the power of the purse and the power of impeachment. The House could—and ought—to start by refusing the administration’s request for additional funds to deal with the immigration crisis. Instead, they could redirect existing appropriations from…oh, let’s say the IRS. There’s plenty of fat in an already bloated federal bureaucracy.
As for impeachment, that can wait.
Day by day the American people are becoming more disillusioned by the man who seems to think he’s Charles I.