Impeachments: What’s It All About?
Originally, the motivation for creating the impeachment process in the Constitution was to control the powerful, viz., those who become so powerful that they can abuse their powers and subvert the established constitutional order. But as used in the Clinton and Trump cases, impeachments have been used as a tool the serves the powerful. That is, these impeachments were not about presidential accountability in the face of an “imperial president,” but rather about empowering the president’s political enemies.
Thus, in Clinton’s and Trump’s impeachments, the impeachers base their actions on crimes – like obstruction of justice – a president has allegedly committed. But that a crime has been committed doesn’t threaten the established constitutional order. In fact, “crime” is how the powerful control the less powerful, which is why crime does not threaten the established order. On the other hand, some non-criminal activities do threaten the established order, which is why Malcolm X, the Muslim, was much more dangerous than Malcolm Little, the criminal. And this is why some who are not criminals, like MLK Jr., are much more dangerous than the likes of Tony Soprano. Most criminals are notoriously patriotic and are willing to serve the nation as some “crime figures” did when the Kennedys ran what LBJ called “a Murder Inc.” out of the White House in attempts to kill Castro.
Trump’s “crimes” – such as they are – and Clinton’s “crimes” – such as they were – do not threaten the established political order. And those using these crimes as justification for an impeachment are merely engaged in a thinly disguised power play. So disguised as those gallantly dealing with an “imperial president,” Trump’s impeachers, like Clinton’s impeachers, are merely playing power politics, using impeachment to enhance their own power while subverting Trump’s. Not exactly the morality play the impeachers trumpet as their cause.
The success of such shenanigans is far from guaranteed, as Bill Clinton’s presidency was not undermined by his impeachment and trial. And even as a campaign tactic, the Republican impeachers were not successful or were successful only with the help of the Supremes, that is, of the five Republican Supremes. Trump, because he is even more shameless than Clinton, might emerge from this situation stronger because as “the acquitted one” he will broadcast his “innocence” loudly and continually, making his Democratic impeachers look like mere partisans playing politics based on “Trumped up” charges. Which is of course what they are. In the process, moreover, the Democrats, like the Republicans before them, will leave the impeachment process in tatters and impotent to deal with the real danger, an imperial president.