You have to love the timing — the Ukrainian dictator hightails it out of Kiev even as New York City’s official demagogue runs a light and who knows what else as he continues his quest for the common touch and the pursuit of equality. Or social equality. But just keep in mind that all New Yorkers aren’t created equal.
Yanukovych, known as the Big Uke in the same kinds of circles that call New York City’s new mayor Big Bill, made his run for it as thousands of protesters braving live ammunition occupied, c’est le mot, the Ukraine government headquarters. Reportedly at least one hundred peaceful unarmed civilians have been killed since the post-communist authoritarian authorities came down like Bolshie bricks on citizens exercising ordinary impulses to speak and assemble. Observe that in giving Yanukovych the boot in his own h.q., they symbolically reversed the storming of the Winter Palace, a misfortune that for a century has been revered as one of the founding myths of the totalitarian left. They scattered the nomenklaturist hangers on with the same alacrity that in one’s darkest fantasies one imagines the musket-bearing buckskin-wearing freedom-loving people of this great and old Republic doing when, in Jefferson’s famous delusion, they take to nourishing the soil of liberty with the blood of tyrants to keep American democracy healthy.
I say delusion and I mean it. There is no comparison. Many, maybe by now a majority, of Americans feel flouted and suckered, humiliated and embarrassed, by an administration that reverses its own pledges and, according to some conservative commentators, acts lawlessly. Talk of impeachment, however, is inopportune and, absent the high crimes and misdemeanors which the Constitution defines as the grounds for this drastic measure, it debases, by making it banal, our political discourse.
Let us be clear about this. It is a good moment to do so. There has been altogether too much irresponsible talk in conservative circles of giving the heave-ho to our native nomenklaturists, and it serves no useful purpose except to paint us as cranks. The Obama administration is regularly described as lawless and contemptuous of the Constitution. This is dangerous talk, protected by the First Amendment but nonetheless reckless and bordering on sedition.
Yes, we have the letter of the law. Next to it is an unwritten law, made up of customs and memories and notions of how private and public affairs are organized, what we owe our families communities nation, our sense of what is American and what is not.
Impeachment proceedings are meant to protect to integrity of our political system from out and out malfeasance, from the kind of thuggishness that we observe in societies based of force alone, men not laws.
The Obama administration can be charged with as many counts of incompetence and political bullying as you want, and you would probably miss a few.
Their attempted health care reform is a disaster the worst of which we probably have not even seen yet, causing already unnecessary harm by seizing people’s health insurance plans and replacing them, in some cases with inferior ones, in others with a deadly — literally — void.
Their abuse of the tax agency and their snooping on organizations, including news organizations, represent political bullying of the rankest, foulest, contemptible sort.
Their foreign and security policies, while not without small successes, overall would not be different had they a deliberate plan to render America impotent and subservient to foreign powers. More likely it is sheer incompetence and ideological foolishness inherited from the radicalism of the 1960s anti-American left, which has achieved the goal of its “long march through the institutions” with the capture of the Democratic Party and the White House. But with a diplomacy that harms our friends and tactical allies and rewards our enemies, a defense policy that is debilitating our armed services, and a strategic vision based on surrender as a way to make the world a peaceful place, they have squandered the opportunity handed to them by several generations of sacrifice and resistance to European totalitarianism, opened the door to new and no less savage threats to our way of life.
It is an appalling record, a stunning back of the hand to an electorate which, admittedly, not once by twice offered these people a kind of pass for obscure misguided and ill-thought through reasons of national contrition. You can fool all the people some of the time and the people can make fools of themselves some of the time.
But you cannot and they cannot all the time, and in short enough order our people will get wise to the rascals and send in a crew to repair the damage. Thus far, the Republicans have not produced such a crew — precisely one of the reasons despairing freedom-loving Americans are driven to the drastic measure of impeachment, which is sort of the constitutional equivalent of a neutron bomb. Impeachment proceedings will simply short circuit this learning curve and natural political process, causing more long term harm than good, as they surely did in the past.
To be sure, the law ought to be used. The malfunctioning health legislation can no doubt be sued at any number of entry points, from discrimination against patients in mortal danger whose property (their old plans) has been confiscated, to the basic illegality of laws or regulations originating in the executive not the legislative branch.
Would you impeach the mayor of New York for running a traffic light or for depriving horses and their coach men of their livelihood in the name of animal rights activists? Would you impeach the president of the United States for a moronic gesture in favor of African elephants that also happens to be still another actionable order for which the executive branch can be sued, as Mr. Bandow explained very well in these pages? Such a suit would have the added advantage of making public opinion aware that the President prefers such dubious, phony, and probably illegal “policies,” when he could, were he as serious as he claims, use the stouthearted, courageous, competent troops of U.S. Army Africa, who are on the Continent with the mission of training native rifles to do their jobs not only against Arab marauders and slavers but in the environmental and wildlife preservation work for which they have many competencies. Mayor De Blasio could inform him — though come to think of it, he may be unaware of this or may have personal ideological biases against it — that some of New York’s very best, the legendary 369th NYNG, are even as I write on their way to the deepest wilds of central Africa on a mission to show their new best African friends how much good a properly trained security force can do for a society of laws not men — including kill all the poachers of elephants.
Let us be serious. Time is short — it always is. That is all the more the reason not to indulge in the fantasies of shortcuts. Impeachment refers to high crimes, misdemeanors, not political banditry and lousy policies. Political combat is what we must engage in, not impeachment fantasia. Let us go at it with grim purpose and joyful countenance, and win.