“Be careful how you make those statements, gentleman.” Barack Hussein Obama had been president of the United States for all of two months. He was lecturing the titans of American finance who were struggling to explain to him, a man with no meaningful business experience, how high salaries are necessary if American companies are to compete for talent in a global market.
“The public isn’t buying that,” scoffed the president. He wasn’t talking about the public, though. “My administration,” he warned, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” The pitchforks: that’s his public.
So begins Andrew McCarthy’s new book Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment. This book is definitively authoritative, a straightforward and objective look at a president whose appetite for lawlessness, fueled by an Alinskyite sense of self-righteousness, is as troubling in its own right as it is a disturbing warning about future presidents who might attempt to build on this particular Obama legacy. As the story about the president and the pitchforks illustrates, this is a president who sees himself not as faithfully executing his office — the rule of law — but sees himself instead, as McCarthy notes in his introduction, as the “ruler of law.”
That McCarthy has provided such a masterly description of the problem is underlined by the fact of the controversy over the swap of five high-ranking Taliban terrorists for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Whatever one thinks about the swap itself and the controversy surrounding allegations that Bergdahl deserted, the fact that members of Congress from both parties are charging the president with deliberately violating the law emerges instantly as yet another illustration of McCarthy’s point. Faithless Execution was already in bookstores when the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairman and ranking member, Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Saxby Chambliss — neither with a reputation as hot headed extremists — specifically accused the President of violating the law by not consulting them as the law requires. Said Feinstein:
It comes to us with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following law. And in an issue with this kind of concern to a committee that bears the oversight responsibility, I think you can see that we’re very dismayed about it.
In other words, one of the U.S. Senate’s senior Democrats is effectively making exactly the case McCarthy has made in Faithless Execution. As McCarthy says in a Q&A that appears on Amazon:
Obama’s presidency is a willful, systematic attack on the constitutional system of separation of powers, an enterprise that aims to bring about a new regime of government by executive decree. This is exactly the kind of subversion the Framers designed the impeachment power to address. The Nixon and Clinton episodes involved misconduct that did not aim to undermine our constitutional framework.
It is notable that McCarthy has company on the subject. Take note of this interview Sean Hannity conducted with George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley, Turley a liberal and Obama supporter.
SEAN HANNITY: We do have co-equal branches of government, separation of powers. You teach this regularly. You agree with the president politically. For you to say we are at a tipping point constitutionally -- now, I agree with you. What does that mean considering our constitution is our rule of law and they are ignoring it?
JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, unfortunately our system is changing, and it’s changing without a debate. Or even a discussion about what we’re going to do in the future when we have a three branch system, a tripartite system but one branch is so dominant. What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an uber presidency as I’ve called it, where the president can act unilaterally. This is only the latest example of that.
What’s troubling is that we have a system that has been stable precisely because these are limited and shared powers. This president has indicated that he’s just not willing to comply with some of those aspects. He told Congress he would go it alone and in our system you’re not allowed to go it alone.
SEAN HANNITY: If I broke the law, why do I think they would be the first people to hand kickoff me, perp walk me and send me off to jail. This is just my belief system. Paranoia or truth?
JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, I think that the biggest problem we have is that the system itself, if we have a dominant branch, simply begins to shut down in terms of the safeguards. People don’t seem to understand that the separation of powers is not about the power of these branches, it’s there to protect individual liberty, it’s there to protect us from the concentration of power. That’s what is occurring here. You know, I’ve said it before, Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be. You know, he’s been allowed to act unilaterally in a way that we’ve fought for decades.
Catch that? Liberal Turley says “….Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be. You know, he’s been allowed to act unilaterally in a way that we’ve fought for decades.”
So the obvious question: What to do?
Faithless Execution provides the answer in detail. And does so in typical McCarthy-style: the style of a “just the facts” prosecutor. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor, and one of the country’s best. It was McCarthy who led the successful prosecution of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, the mastermind behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and plots to attack other New York landmarks. The Sheikh is serving a life-sentence courtesy of McCarthy’s legal professionalism, a reminder that McCarthy himself is a serious legal force, not a political attack dog.
What is McCarthy saying here? In prosecutorial style, he lays out the specifics of the case — as the book notes a “litany of abuses” — for impeaching the president. Seven articles of impeachment are listed, detailed as only a thorough prosecutor can detail them.
Article I is titled “The President’s Willful Refusal to Execute the Laws Faithfully and Usurpation of the Legislative Authority of Congress.” From the President’s repeated unilateral amending of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare, to his unilateral amending of the WARN Act (the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act that requires employers to give workers a 60-day advance notice of plant closings) to his unilateral amending of the Clinton-Gingrich welfare reform law of 1996 and more, this president has shown a repeated and reckless disregard of the law. Amending them unilaterally, Mr. Obama is directly refusing to obey his oath of office that requires the president to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.”
Article II recalls the president’s “recess appointment” of “a director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).” Recess appointments are a period staple in administrations past — but as the name indicates there is that one basic requirement: the United States Senate, confirmer of presidential appointees, must actually be in recess. Alas, as the President, himself a former senator, well knew the Senate was formally in session when he made his appointments. His recess appointments an in-your-face “patently unconstitutional” method of appointment. In case there was any doubt, as McCarthy notes, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia later ruled that the NLRB appointees — the only ones before the court — were indeed unconstitutional.
Perhaps no more blatant example of the president’s faithless execution of his office is with the immigration issue and his repeated failure to faithfully execute the nation’s immigration laws. From Obama’s unilaterally conferring amnesty on “several categories of illegal aliens” to his use of “executive orders, administrative regulations and claims of prosecutorial discretion to support the plenary authority of Congress to make immigration law,” McCarthy displays both the chapters and the verses of the president’s approach to his oath of office. The brazen politicization of the law in this area is in fact stunning. Not least, McCarthy points out, was the administration’s “stated justification, in court and in public statements, for suing the state of Arizona was the policy of compelling states to adhere to federal immigration law.… Yet the president and his subordinates announced that the administration would take no legal or administration action against ‘sanctuary cities’ that refuse to facilitate the enforcement of federal immigration law, and have in fact taken no meaningful action against such cities.” In other words, the double standard could not be more blatant.
This is more than a superb book. What Andrew McCarthy has written here is a timely contribution to the issue of the rule of law versus what McCarthy calls “the ruler of law.” When all of McCarthy’s quite specific examples are added together, the case for impeaching a lawless president is made in the thorough detail that can only come from a serious prosecutor.
But now what?
The point McCarthy makes here is that while the legal case can be made in depth, the question of impeachment is in fact a political question. He’s right. Which quickly brings to the fore the seemingly endless problem with the Republican Establishment in Washington. As this story in the Washington Examiner by Paul Bedard illustrates:
Despite anger in many quarters of the nation over the president’s prisoner swap, Republicans are backing off impeachment threats because they fear it would rally President Obama‘s Democratic base and kill the GOP’s chances to win the Senate, according to congressional insiders and sources.
“150 days out from a general election is not a realistic time to begin such a solemn and Constitutionally important process,” said one advisor to House GOP leaders.
“That would have the opposite effect of what we are planning for in November. We are planning for fewer Democrats in the House and fewer Democrats in the Senate and less power for President Obama in January. Impeachment, which would never pass the Senate, and would rally Obama’s currently demoralized base, would limit, if not eliminate possible GOP gains in the House and Senate,” added the advisor.
A top Republican aide added, “that is an accurate assessment. The Democrats are divided on so many issues right now there’s no reason to give them a reason to rally.”
So again there is the standard GOP Establishment approach. Don’t do anything to screw up the election — and then once won? Don’t do anything to screw up the next election after that. And in the meantime? Just keep a goin’ along to get along. Never use the victory to do what the party is supposed to believe in. Horrors! Is it any wonder the Tea Party is on the verge of defeating the likes of Mississippi GOP Senator Thad Cochran?
Last week, AmSpec’s Loose Canons columnist Jed Babbin discussed Faithless Execution here in these cyber-pages. As the saying goes, time moves fast. In the mere eight days since the Babbin review the reaction to the release of Sergeant Bergdahl has exploded, stunning the White House and angering Democrats like Feinstein who, as mentioned, sounds like Andrew McCarthy himself when she says Obama on Bergdahl was “totally not following law.” The impact of the Bergdahl episode is not to be underestimated. What’s happening here is that the Obama White House has abruptly taken a discussion of impeachment from what the usual suspects would call the fever swamps to the world of political reality. McCarthy’s book is a longer version of what respected Democrat Feinstein has just so succinctly summarized: the Obama presidency is “totally not following the law.” Whatever else Sergeant Bergdahl did or did not do, he has moved the discussion of not only impeaching the president — but why the president should be impeached — smack into the middle of the mainstream of American political discussion.
By chance, Paul Bedard's above-mentioned article in the Examiner has an interview with…Andrew McCarthy. Which is reported thusly:
Still, the impeachment movement is picking up speed outside the beltway.
“My sense in doing interviews and talking to people around the country,” said Faithless Execution author Andrew C. McCarthy, “is that there’s a lot more anger about this in the country than the corridor between New York and Washington.”
He added: “I do get a very real sense that there is a lot more anger about lawlessness in the country.” And, said McCarthy, whose new book lays out the legal case for impeachment, “It’s been festering for a long time.”
The former prosecutor said that he has been surprised that the public is warming up to considering impeachment.
“Suddenly the world ‘impeachment,’ which I would say as little as three or four months ago, sent people certainly inside the beltway diving under their desks, now in polite society you are actually allowed to use the ‘I’ word,” he said.
“The point is, if you are going to combat presidential lawlessness under circumstances where it now looks like we’ve got two and a half years to go with an administration that seems to have thrown caution to the wind and is just moving ahead with the most extravagant parts of the agenda and is going to use its raw power to try to accomplish this, you can’t have a sensible adult conversation with how the U.S. Constitution deals with presidential lawlessness without at least broaching the subject of impeachment,” he said.
In writing Faithless Execution Andy McCarthy has accomplished that rarity. Writing exactly the right book at exactly the right time.