Historians agree empires and presidencies die from imperial overreach. Now Barack Obama’s closest allies in the Democratic Party, the far-Left, and the media are encouraging him to take actions that will lead inexorably to his impeachment. The president’s hubris and lawlessness seem destined to collide with Washington’s tense polemical atmosphere in a showdown that will put his presidency on the chopping block.
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The leaders of the House Democratic Caucus this week urged the president to usurp Congressional authority and order the government to continue borrowing money, (mis)using the 14th Amendment. Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut called the provision “the fail-safe option” to assure Republicans do not hold the American people hostage.” Larson added House Democrats are “prepared to stand behind” Obama all the way.
Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina played the race card in justifying his call for an executive power grab:
I was joking to my staff the other day: “Tell me the bill number for the Emancipation Proclamation.” It was an executive order. We integrated the armed services by executive order. We integrated the public schools by executive order. Sometimes executives must order that things get done…If the president gets up to August 2 without a piece of legislation, he should not allow this country to go into default. He should sign an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment and send that to all the governmental agencies for us to continue to pay our bills.
This, Clyburn said, would “calm to the American people.”
He added, almost as an afterthought, “discussion about the legality of that can continue.”
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Xavier Becerra, D-CA, went further. He said Obama had to raise the debt ceiling “just as the president took out Osama bin Laden in a way that some presidents wouldn’t have done it.” Thus, preserving big government spending from Republicans takes on the same moral urgency as saving America from al-Qaeda. Becerra sidestepped the legal issue altogether, saying, “The Republicans through their failure have given you license to do whatever it takes.”
The press conference was the most assertive lobbying for this dangerous course of action, which is enjoying increasingly broad support in both houses of Congress. Earlier this week Connecticut’s Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who defeated wrestling executive Linda McMahon in 2010, said the measure “might be something that arguably could be done in the face of genuine crisis, in the face of catastrophe.”
Other prominent party leaders have lent their rhetorical support, however dissembling. Bill Clinton lied that, if were he ever faced with an imminent government shutdown, he would act unilaterally “without hesitation, and force the courts to stop me.” (What was this, “Tweet to my 49-year-old self”?)
Ironically, as these Congressmen encouraged Obama to take unprecedented (and unconstitutional) power over the nation’s purse, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz accused House Republicans of trying to impose a “dictatorship.”
The Democrats’ allies in the media have done their share to keep talk of this political crime alive. The Sunday New York Times ran an extended analysis, which had been taken off the table.
Predictably, the left-wing fringe has pushed Obama to sink the Great Satan’s economy by any means necessary. Robert Kuttner took to Politico Thursday to say, “Bring on the 14th Amendment.” Like Clyburn, he prodded “Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment and announce that Washington will make good on its debt while Republicans and Democrats continue to negotiate the budget” — and the legality of his actions. Kuttner is no mere blogger. The editor of The American Prospect, has longstanding ties to Barack Obama and the American socialist movement. He has written numerous pamphlets for the Democratic Socialists of America, which in turn describes him as a “socialist.” He is a “distinguished senior fellow” at the left-wing institute Demos, which was organized in 1999-2000 with the help of one Barack Hussein Obama. Kuttner is also one of the founding member of the George Soros-funded Campaign for America’s Future, whose “Take Back America” conference Obama has addressed.
Congress brings pressure from a lateral branch of government; Kuttner presses from the Astroturf Left “below”; and the media continue to provide popular cover among the segment of the population at large that still reads this fish wrap.
These pleas to assume royal powers over the treasury have reached the president’s itching ears. Obama, who seemed to back down after Rep. Tim Scott, R-SC, threatened impeachment, is testing the waters once again. The president appeared to rule out use of the 14th amendment last Friday, when he told a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland the concept was “not a winning argument.” Spokesman Jay Carney went further on Tuesday, rightly stating “only Congress has the legal authority to extend that borrowing authority. That’s our position.”
But Carney changed his tune on MSNBC two days later, saying if Congress does not agree to Obama’s “grand bargain,” then “we have no other alternative, we have to take action to ensure that we do not default, and we have to take action to reduce our deficit.”
Mr. Carney would do well to remember Newton’s third law of motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” That reaction will be Barack Obama’s impeachment.
Tea Party leader Michele Bachmann has said impeachment would follow “within seconds” of such a move. When asked about the possibility of the president borrowing federal funds on his own authority, Bachmann stated it “would be clearly unconstitutional, because if that were so Article I of the Constitution would be irrelevant.”
If he had the power to do that, he would effectively be a dictator. There would be no reason for Congress to even come into Washington, D.C. He would be making the spending decisions. He would be making the taxing decisions. Clearly, that’s unconstitutional. It’s never happened before. It will not happen now. If it happened, there would be a call for the president’s impeachment within seconds. And it’s not going to happen. (Emphasis added.)
Since the renewed push to grant President Obama fascistic debt ceiling powers, Rep. Steve King has said he would support impeachment, as well. In addition to Tim Scott, Texas Congressman Pete Olson confirmed to ThinkProgress.org that Scott “is not a lonely voice” among House Republicans.
The message from (some) Congressional leaders is clear: Cross this line, and we will defeat Joe Biden in the 2012 election.
Faced with such uncharacteristic backbone, the media have tried to run interference, coaxing, pleading, soothing, and assuring the president they, too, are “prepared to stand behind” him. Adam Liptak wrote in his aforementioned NYT piece:
Another possible reaction to unilateral action from Mr. Obama is impeachment. Professor [Laurence] Tribe [of Harvard] said that was “not politically a very plausible scenario.”
Professor [Sanford] Levinson [of the University of Texas] was less certain. Impeachment by the House of Representatives “seems to me quite likely.” But, he added, “it is also literally unimaginable that the Senate would convict.”
The Times added, “The meaning of the Constitution, these professors say, is in the end what the public believes it to be.”
CNN gave Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin a forum to weigh in on 3 Ways Obama Could Bypass Congress. (This author cannot remember the network posting a commentary during the Bush administration on, say, “How GWB Could Sidestep Congress to Cut Abortion Funding.” Curious that.) Balkin balked:
An angry Congress may respond by impeaching the president. However, if the president’s actions end the government shutdown, stabilize the markets and prevent an economic catastrophe, this reduces the chances that he will be impeached by the House. (After all, he saved the country.) Perhaps more important, the chances that he will be convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which has a Democratic majority, are virtually zero.
But wait – there’s more! Like the throngs of grateful Iraqis, the American people will greet Obama as a liberator and hero:
The public may regard an impeachment trial as a waste of time, since the ultimate result is clear. In addition, the president will point to the shutdown and the impeachment when he runs against his political opponents in the 2012 election, arguing that they did nothing to save the country from calamity while he has risked impeachment to protect the republic.
Translation: Just do it!
The confluence of Democratic politicians, socialists, and the mainstream media is hardly new, but they are using their diminishing political capital to push Obama onto a path that will lead to his impeachment. Democrats will fall in line; elite spinmeisters will demonize Republicans more than usual; and the extreme Left will step up its role as “bad-cop” in a concerted effort to position Obama as a centrist. But there is one salient fact that is lost on no one outside the Beltway: Obama is not a centrist. He is an ideologically polarized spendthrift whose superficial charm and scripted speaking ability vaulted him well beyond his competence. And as he soared higher, America sank lower, until it reached its present low ebb. The American people are sick of him. They are, to use his phrase, “bone tired” of nine percent unemployment, “necessarily” skyrocketing food and gasoline prices, trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see to bail out Obama’s political allies — and speeches dripping with blame-shifting, arrogance, and condescension that tell them how grateful they should be for his brilliant leadership. They want this movie to end, and impeachment is as good a way as any. Does he really want a parliamentary-style referendum on his politics at 31 months in?
Yet as Obama heads toward his own Little Big Horn, his closest allies are spurring on the horses and crying full speed ahead.