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View Poll Results: Is the political nature of impeachment a problem?
Yes 15 33.33%
No 27 60.00%
Planet X 3 6.67%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 26th September 2019, 01:55 PM   #1
theprestige
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Temperature check: Is the political nature of impeachment a problem?

Not a gotcha or anything. Not trying to prove a point. Just curious how other people feel about it.

My vote: No, it's not a problem. Impeachment is a necessary mechanism in our system of government. I don't see any practical way to make it non-political. And I think that's okay.

What do you think?

---

ETA: I should probably explain what I mean by "political".

I mean that the way impeachment is judged - "high crimes and misdemeanors" - is so vague that an official could be impeached for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. Whatever excuse motivated enough votes to get rid of the guy, would be a valid excuse under the constitution.

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Old 26th September 2019, 02:12 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Not a gotcha or anything. Not trying to prove a point. Just curious how other people feel about it.

My vote: No, it's not a problem. Impeachment is a necessary mechanism in our system of government. I don't see any practical way to make it non-political. And I think that's okay.

What do you think?

---

ETA: I should probably explain what I mean by "political".

I mean that the way impeachment is judged - "high crimes and misdemeanors" - is so vague that an official could be impeached for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. Whatever excuse motivated enough votes to get rid of the guy, would be a valid excuse under the constitution.
I agree. I think the vague nature of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" is necessary, or else a flagrant offender could simply abide by the letter of each law while committing new and unprecedented enormities.

That it's only been done twice until now speaks well of it not being abused unnecessarily, even in our traditionally fractious political system.
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Old 26th September 2019, 02:44 PM   #3
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I would agree, and I think the vagueness of "high crimes and misdemeanors" is necessary since the founders could not anticipate everything that might be done, or how it was done. I can sort of see a president under impeachment otherwise pulling out the document and saying "there's nothing here about telephones or voting machines."

I do worry about restraint. One would like to think the welfare of the country would come before partisan squabbling, but current events shake one's faith that this can be so.
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Old 26th September 2019, 02:58 PM   #4
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I'd feel better about it if it wasn't accompanied by this apparent near invulnerability to legal redress by any other means while he is in office.

Mueller had in his hands evidence which, were any other individual responsible, would have been sufficient grounds for a trial, at the very least.

By his own testimony he believed himself unable to pursue any such trials because of the President's invulnerability.

Such trials would not have needed to be political in nature, they would have been guided in a court of law based on the same established rules of evidence which any other American would be subject to.

Instead, he is only faced with a process which is political almost by definition, and abandons the idea of a trial weighing guilt or innocence in favor of the weight of party loyalty and/or the political costs to individual Senators.
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Old 26th September 2019, 03:46 PM   #5
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The big issue with it being a political process is that it allows members of the congress to play for party over country, and that can make the President immune to any redress regardless of the severity of their actions.

We are seeing that now where the Senate Republicans are pretty much stating that regardless of the actions of the President, they won't convict.

In the situation that the Framers' saw, a Congress that is willing to live up to their Oaths regardless of their political feelings and leanings, then Impeachment as it stands was a good solution to a rogue President. However, in today's hyper-partisan Congress, the members have forgotten their Oaths and are more interested in covering their own backsides and protecting their jobs, and so in that, getting a successful Impeachment is nigh on impossible, which in turn can embolden a rogue President to not even bother to try and reign in their extremes, because there will be no repercussions for not doing so.
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Old 26th September 2019, 05:11 PM   #6
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I agree that "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a catch-all phrase, although I would hope that we would never impeach a president for littering.

There is certainly a risk of it becoming politicized. I do note that it seems like since Clinton's impeachment, Democrats have been antsy to use it to get even.
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Old 26th September 2019, 05:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
There is certainly a risk of it becoming politicized. I do note that it seems like since Clinton's impeachment, Democrats have been antsy to use it to get even.
gone af
No, just no.

Chalking up the current impeachment efforts as merely an attempt to 'get even' minimizes the nature of Trump's crimes.

Trump broke the law multiple times. He abused his authority. He should be impeached, thrown out of office, and then locked up in jail. And that is the case regardless of whether the Democrats hold power in congress.

And if they really wanted to merely 'get even' with the republicans, they would have gone after Bush following the 2006 elections (when they had more control in the senate and Bush had approval ratings in the 30% range.)

The current impeachment proceedings are underway because of real crimes, not because of some petty revenge plan.
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Old 26th September 2019, 05:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I agree that "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a catch-all phrase, although I would hope that we would never impeach a president for littering.

There is certainly a risk of it becoming politicized. I do note that it seems like since Clinton's impeachment, Democrats have been antsy to use it to get even.
Have they? Since the end of Clinton's term you had two of the worst presidents in modern American history. I think they're pretty warranted.
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Old 26th September 2019, 05:34 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I do note that it seems like since Clinton's impeachment, Democrats have been antsy to use it to get even.
I keep hearing this, but the fact that has taken evidence that Trump tried to use the power of his office for personal gain over the good of the country to actually move the needle far enough to really get the ball rolling shows that they really haven't been. Heck if they were really itching to have done it, they controlled both the house and the senate from Jan 2007 to Jan 2009 a period where GW's popularity was mired in the 30's and dropped as low as 25%. They also had clear evidence of him and his administration lying to Congress and possibly illegally getting the US involved in a war.

If you wanted to Impeach a Republican President in revenge, when would have been a better time than that?

The reality is that the Dems have been very slow and unwilling to race to an impeachment, but Trump's continual criminal behavior have left them no choice in the matter.
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Old 26th September 2019, 05:53 PM   #10
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Of course it's a problem - the voting body is controlled by the president's party.

But I don't think it's an insurmountable problem. It'll require some careful management by the House and Justice Roberts, but it can be done. I think there are some Republican senators who may really be moved to vote their conscience.
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Old 26th September 2019, 05:56 PM   #11
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If any two Republicans are impeachable it's Bush II and Trump, who happened to come into office after Clinton.

Obama's 2014 "lame duck" period after he had alienated his allies would have been an excellent time to attack him if there was anything half as worthy of impeaching him over.
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Old 26th September 2019, 06:11 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
Obama's 2014 "lame duck" period after he had alienated his allies would have been an excellent time to attack him if there was anything half as worthy of impeaching him over.
My God, the man wore a TAN SUIT and put DIJON MUSTARD on a cheese burger, what else do you need to prove he was an unamerican secret Muslim??
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Old 26th September 2019, 07:13 PM   #13
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It's A problem, not The problem.

It is definitely a problem that the courts treat the President as immune from everything - there is no basis in law for that.
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Old 26th September 2019, 07:16 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
If any two Republicans are impeachable it's Bush II and Trump, who happened to come into office after Clinton.

I watched a great documentary about the financial crisis of 2008. W. talked about his role, at the very end of his presidency, in supporting the (at the time) radical suggestions of the Fed and Treasury. In another doc. about Air Force One on 9/11, W. also gave a lengthy interview recalling his thought process.

It's starting to turn me around a little on his intelligence and input into policy. He certainly surrounded himself with smart (although biased) advisors and relied heavily on that advice. That's more than can be said for Trump.

The only thing I can't forgive him for is the invasion of Iraq. Hussain had already agreed to unconditional nuclear monitoring, even at designated palaces. And the whole "spreading democracy" thing was a complete disaster, requiring almost a willful disregard for the actual conditions in Iraq - the three warring factions that instantly went to war when we went in without any sort of plan (Sunni, Sufi, and Kurds).

But I can't think of an impeachable offense for W.
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Old 26th September 2019, 07:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
But I can't think of an impeachable offense for W.
How about lying to Congress?

How about starting and conducting a war without Congressional or UN permission?
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Old 26th September 2019, 07:30 PM   #16
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In 2017 there were maybe upwards of 40 house Republican members representing suburban districts that may have backed impeachment.....and they were voted out.

I don't know how you get a support of a republican unless democrats promise not to run against a vote for impeachment or conviction. Voting partisanship is such that there probably isn't enough crossover Dems to make up for lost republicans. They can read polls. That is why so many are resigning.

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Old 26th September 2019, 09:52 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
How about lying to Congress?

How about starting and conducting a war without Congressional ... permission?

Maybe, but I think Bush fully believed those lies. He sent Powell to the UN with a damn cartoon drawing of what we thought a mobile chemical weapons lab might look like. That requires some level of confidence.

As for conducting a war without Congressional approval, Congress gave a whole lot of that power away in older and contemporaneous bills.

I mean, there's a case there, but I doubt it was ever sexy or immediate enough to get the public interested in an impeachment - especially because W. rode the "wartime president" moniker as hard and as long as he could.
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I agree. I think the vague nature of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" is necessary, or else a flagrant offender could simply abide by the letter of each law while committing new and unprecedented enormities.

That it's only been done twice until now speaks well of it not being abused unnecessarily, even in our traditionally fractious political system.
What I worry about is that it was done once during the first 180 years since the constitution was ratified, and three times in the next fifty years. (I'm counting both Nixon and Trump, on the grounds that Nixon only resigned because he was about to be impeached, and Trump hasn't been impeached yet, but it sure seems headed in that direction.)

I'm afraid it will just come to be the new normal.

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Old 26th September 2019, 10:16 PM   #19
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Well, if you won't change the venue, it will in any case be political for a large part. Not a perfect statute, but I think like many others in the constitution it relies on a certain shared good faith and common values assumed by the founders. And when people stop playing by the rules and start breaking conventions and traditions even the best laws will be empty letters. And, no, I am not thinking about the modern Democratic party here.
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
What I worry about is that it was done once during the first 180 years since the constitution was ratified, and three times in the next fifty years. (I'm counting both Nixon and Trump, on the grounds that Nixon only resigned because he was about to be impeached, and Trump hasn't been impeached yet, but it sure seems headed in that direction.)

I'm afraid it will just come to be the new normal.
Or perhaps it is just an indication that politicians have become more corrupt....
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:23 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Maybe, but I think Bush fully believed those lies. He sent Powell to the UN with a damn cartoon drawing of what we thought a mobile chemical weapons lab might look like. That requires some level of confidence.

As for conducting a war without Congressional approval, Congress gave a whole lot of that power away in older and contemporaneous bills.

I mean, there's a case there, but I doubt it was ever sexy or immediate enough to get the public interested in an impeachment - especially because W. rode the "wartime president" moniker as hard and as long as he could.
Remember that W also hit 25% approval at the time.
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:29 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
I agree that "high crimes and misdemeanors" is a catch-all phrase, although I would hope that we would never impeach a president for littering.

There is certainly a risk of it becoming politicized. I do note that it seems like since Clinton's impeachment, Democrats have been antsy to use it to get even.
I don't think that's true at all. We had two terms of Bush, whose behavior was by some people's standards pretty bad. If anything, I think the impeachment of Clinton made Bush less likely to be impeached for the very reason that the Democrats were afraid of making it seem like a habit. In fact the cynic in me considers the possibility that the Republicans who impeached Clinton considered that possibility when they did so.

e.t.a. with that said, I don't think it would have been a good idea to impeach Bush anyway. Bad as he was, he seems a breath of fresh air compared to what we have now.
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:33 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Maybe, but I think Bush fully believed those lies. He sent Powell to the UN with a damn cartoon drawing of what we thought a mobile chemical weapons lab might look like. That requires some level of confidence.
I really don't understand how the CIA has come through the last 30 years with its reputation not only intact, but bolstered given that it:

Overestimated the size of the Soviet economy by a factor of three, which became apparent when the USSR collapsed.

Knew that eventual 9-11 hijackers and high-level al-Qaeda operatives Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi were in the country and failed to notify the FBI.

And provided the basis for the Bush administration's claims of WMD in Iraq.

I am sure that the CIA has lots of successes it can't point to for reasons of national security, but those are pretty significant mistakes.
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:38 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
I'd feel better about it if it wasn't accompanied by this apparent near invulnerability to legal redress by any other means while he is in office.

Mueller had in his hands evidence which, were any other individual responsible, would have been sufficient grounds for a trial, at the very least.

By his own testimony he believed himself unable to pursue any such trials because of the President's invulnerability.

Such trials would not have needed to be political in nature, they would have been guided in a court of law based on the same established rules of evidence which any other American would be subject to.

Instead, he is only faced with a process which is political almost by definition, and abandons the idea of a trial weighing guilt or innocence in favor of the weight of party loyalty and/or the political costs to individual Senators.

Quad's post comes closest to putting into words my own reason for voting "yes". I did waffle on my decision for a bit because there are pros and cons. Politics, by its nature, admits the emotional and irrational; dangerous impediments to acceptance of fact. While the system, having been constructed such that the political solution is the only one available and hence is clearly enough defined--such as it can be--the resort to standards that permit partisanship a voice is a decided weakness.

I do lean toward the President being liable to criminal prosecution while in office, just like all the other 300-odd million souls (well, not the kids ). Setting the President apart in this special way is a very considerable reason for the current mess. And no, I don't subscribe to the notion that POTUS is too important to be bothered with taking time off to defend himself. What the hell is the VP there for? And besides, a decent person wouldn't find themselves in the position of facing criminal charges in the first place. Break the law, face the music.
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Old 26th September 2019, 10:51 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
What I worry about is that it was done once during the first 180 years since the constitution was ratified, and three times in the next fifty years. (I'm counting both Nixon and Trump, on the grounds that Nixon only resigned because he was about to be impeached, and Trump hasn't been impeached yet, but it sure seems headed in that direction.)

I'm afraid it will just come to be the new normal.
But *why* has the frequency increased? In two cases (Nixon and--counting ahead--Trump) it was for clearly demonstrated violations of Oath of Office, if not outright crimes. The third (Clinton) was for lying about consensual sex. In all cases, we see the minority Republicans willing to engage in dirty tricks.

Yep, that Party having the lesser membership number and less popular policies are increasingly resorting to means nefarious in their will to power.
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Old 26th September 2019, 11:05 PM   #26
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Old 26th September 2019, 11:11 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
I do lean toward the President being liable to criminal prosecution while in office, just like all the other 300-odd million souls (well, not the kids ). Setting the President apart in this special way is a very considerable reason for the current mess. And no, I don't subscribe to the notion that POTUS is too important to be bothered with taking time off to defend himself. What the hell is the VP there for? And besides, a decent person wouldn't find themselves in the position of facing criminal charges in the first place. Break the law, face the music.
Okay, the last sentence hints that maybe you are being facetious, but I feel compelled to say that making the president subject to civilian law is fraught with problems. As a simple example, suppose the presidential motorcade goes 50 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Anybody want to say they should be charged with speeding? Keep in mind that they will have the road locked down, with no stop signs or red lights, unlike the other 300 million of us.
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Old 26th September 2019, 11:19 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I mean that the way impeachment is judged - "high crimes and misdemeanors" - is so vague that an official could be impeached for pretty much any reason or no reason at all.
It covers a very broad range of crimes, but not 'no reason at all'. This is no more vague than ordinary justice.

High crimes and misdemeanors#United_States
Quote:
"High" in the legal and common parlance of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of "high crimes" signifies activity by or against those who have special duties acquired by taking an oath of office that are not shared with common persons...

The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" when used together was a common phrase at the time the U.S. Constitution was written and did not require any stringent or difficult criteria for determining guilt; it meant the opposite. The phrase was historically used to cover a very broad range of crimes. The Judiciary Committee's 1974 report "The Historical Origins of Impeachment" stated: "'High Crimes and Misdemeanors' has traditionally been considered a 'term of art', like such other constitutional phrases as 'levying war' and 'due process.' The Supreme Court has held that such phrases must be construed, not according to modern usage, but according to what the framers meant when they adopted them.
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Old 26th September 2019, 11:22 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
How about lying to Congress?

How about starting and conducting a war without Congressional or UN permission?
How about authorizing torture of prisoners? I grew up being taught that we were heroes defending the world against the Bad Guys who not only invaded other countries without provocation and lied about why they were doing it, they were so evil they tortured their prisoners. In addition to being the worst foreign policy disaster in our history in quantifiable terms -- one we still haven't recovered from, and no end in sight -- the Bush Doctrine put a final end to that hero myth.

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Old 27th September 2019, 02:18 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Okay, the last sentence hints that maybe you are being facetious, but I feel compelled to say that making the president subject to civilian law is fraught with problems. As a simple example, suppose the presidential motorcade goes 50 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Anybody want to say they should be charged with speeding? Keep in mind that they will have the road locked down, with no stop signs or red lights, unlike the other 300 million of us.
I think you are trivializing the issue to absurd levels.

Nobody is above the law. Of course the President should be open to prosecution. As we have seen, having it otherwise is a guaratee for abuse when you get a bad actor in the role.
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Old 27th September 2019, 03:26 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
But I can't think of an impeachable offense for W.
Authorizing the use of the same torture we prosecuted the Japanese in WWII for as a war crime. If thatís not a high crime, I donít know what is.
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Old 27th September 2019, 05:01 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
My God, the man wore a TAN SUIT and put DIJON MUSTARD on a cheese burger, what else do you need to prove he was an unamerican secret Muslim??
A terrorist fist bump, of course.
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Old 27th September 2019, 05:10 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
It covers a very broad range of crimes, but not 'no reason at all'. This is no more vague than ordinary justice.

High crimes and misdemeanors#United_States
Absolutely disagree with that quote. I, and other textualists, don't care what the framers meant.

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Old 27th September 2019, 05:13 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
What I worry about is that it was done once during the first 180 years since the constitution was ratified, and three times in the next fifty years. (I'm counting both Nixon and Trump, on the grounds that Nixon only resigned because he was about to be impeached, and Trump hasn't been impeached yet, but it sure seems headed in that direction.)

I'm afraid it will just come to be the new normal.
To the extent we have profoundly corrupt POTUSes (Nixon, Trump) and to the extent we have unhinged zealots running the GOP who choose to impeach over actual nothingburgers, yes.

Putting aside that Nixon resigned prior to being impeached and accepting that Trump will be impeached, we've had two blatantly corrupt POTUSes impeached, and one nothingburger campaign ad. One party abused the system. The way you portray it is as phony as a Trump U diploma.
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Old 27th September 2019, 05:17 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
What I worry about is that it was done once during the first 180 years since the constitution was ratified, and three times in the next fifty years. (I'm counting both Nixon and Trump, on the grounds that Nixon only resigned because he was about to be impeached, and Trump hasn't been impeached yet, but it sure seems headed in that direction.)

I'm afraid it will just come to be the new normal.
Clutch those pearls really tight....
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Old 27th September 2019, 05:19 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Not a gotcha or anything. Not trying to prove a point. Just curious how other people feel about it.

My vote: No, it's not a problem. Impeachment is a necessary mechanism in our system of government. I don't see any practical way to make it non-political. And I think that's okay.

What do you think?

---

ETA: I should probably explain what I mean by "political".

I mean that the way impeachment is judged - "high crimes and misdemeanors" - is so vague that an official could be impeached for pretty much any reason or no reason at all. Whatever excuse motivated enough votes to get rid of the guy, would be a valid excuse under the constitution.
Of course it's a problem. It's plain that Trump is not fit for office, that he lies all the time, that he is funnelling tax payers money into his private businesses, that he solicits political and financial favours from foreign governments. We know he is as guilty as ****, but he's going to be acquitted because the "jury" is dominated by partisan Republicans.

How can the political nature of impeachment not be a problem if it fails to remove the most corrupt criminal ever to hold the office?
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Old 27th September 2019, 05:38 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
Remember that W also hit 25% approval at the time.

You are right that W's approval and net approval ratings were lower than Trump's at their lowest. Trump, I think, has spent more time with a negative net approval (approve minus disapprove) than any other modern president.

How this affects impeachment, I have no idea. There's just too little data. I would guess that the controlling party in the Senate is the key factor. That's why we knew Clinton wouldn't be removed from office, why Rehnquist wore a costume from a Gilbert and Sullivan play about the misuse of the courts, and why several protesters were removed for yelling, "Just vote already," at Clinton's trial.

The current lunacy makes Nixon look like a damn saint for resigning and not putting the country through a trial. Trump doesn't care about what the country thinks or needs, only what his base wants. He's the first person in modern history who only considers himself as the president of those who elected him, and not, like Obama, the president of everybody - even those who hated him.
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Old 27th September 2019, 06:08 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
I'd feel better about it if it wasn't accompanied by this apparent near invulnerability to legal redress by any other means while he is in office.

Mueller had in his hands evidence which, were any other individual responsible, would have been sufficient grounds for a trial, at the very least.

By his own testimony he believed himself unable to pursue any such trials because of the President's invulnerability.

Such trials would not have needed to be political in nature, they would have been guided in a court of law based on the same established rules of evidence which any other American would be subject to.

Instead, he is only faced with a process which is political almost by definition, and abandons the idea of a trial weighing guilt or innocence in favor of the weight of party loyalty and/or the political costs to individual Senators.
This. Impeachment being political isn't the problem; every non-political route deferring to impeachment is the problem.
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Old 27th September 2019, 06:26 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Absolutely disagree with that quote. I, and other textualists, don't care what the framers meant.
oh gods, there are more than one of you?
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Old 27th September 2019, 06:44 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
Okay, the last sentence hints that maybe you are being facetious, but I feel compelled to say that making the president subject to civilian law is fraught with problems. As a simple example, suppose the presidential motorcade goes 50 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Anybody want to say they should be charged with speeding? Keep in mind that they will have the road locked down, with no stop signs or red lights, unlike the other 300 million of us.
Cops have a lot of discretion in deciding whether or not to give you a ticket for speeding, presumably depending on the circumstances. If he does, the judge still has discretion in deciding what the fine should be, if any. Our legal system depends on people with integrity using their discretion honorably.
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