If the President was arrested for drunk driving, would that be an impeachable offense? I’m no constitutional scholar, but I don’t think so. Sure, he broke the law. But to me, the whole impeachment thing should only apply to job-related activities. You know, something specific that means it’s imperative that we remove the guy from office. Like Nixon’s egregious abuse of power. But character flaws and personal wrong-doing don’t really fit that bill.
Sure, I understand that some people consider the President to be Citizen #1, and role model and all that. But it’s not. There’s no morality clause in the Constitution. It’s just a job, just like any other job. We, the people, hire a dude to run the federal government for us, according to rules established by a group of proxies we also hired. That’s all it is. Sure, role models are good and everything. But I just want someone who can do the job.
That’s the way it works with everyone else. We don’t all get fired for committing crimes in our personal time. Hell, even murderers are often allowed to keep their jobs; until the conviction comes through, anyway. And I seriously doubt that most companies would fire a good employee because he got a DWI or committed perjury on a personal matter.
But all this is different if they committed these offenses at work. For example, getting a DWI while on the job would probably be a fireable offense. As would committing perjury (though that might just depend on whether you were lying on the company’s behalf, which might just warrant a promotion). And killing a co-worker at work is considered grounds for dismissal at just about any company.
So I don’t see why this would be any different for the president. If he’s done something on the job that warrants his removal, then we remove him. But personal stuff stays personal. Hell, I don’t even agree with the idea of drug testing employees. Sure, if they’re doing drugs at work, they get fired. But what they do at home is on their time; just as long as they’re sober by the time they’re at work.
And I’m writing about this to address two regular commenters who had previously stated that they had supported Clinton’s impeachment, despite them being Democrats. One of them went so far as to suggest that Clinton’s lies helped pave the way to Bush’s. I’m not sure how that makes any sense, as Republicans have been known liars long before Clinton got in office; particularly the turdball Republicans Bush surrounded himself with. And that’s not to mention that Bush was doing this same crap as the governor of my fine state, before Clinton’s Big Lie ever happened. The man has no integrity whatsoever, and I’m not sure how we can reasonably pin that on Clinton.
But again, the difference between Clinton’s actions and Bush’s are huge. That’s not to suggest that it would be ok for Bush were he to personally be wiretapping his personal enemies, but I’m fairly positive that Bush couldn’t do that without abusing his presidential powers, and then we’d get him for that. Or if he set-up private gulags at Crawford to personally torture “terrorists”. I guess maybe we might think of getting rid of him for that (though a lot of conservatives would surely support his private gulags). But really, that just goes to show how egregious Bush’s offenses really are.
Now, if Clinton had used the CIA, FBI, and IRS in order to go after his personal enemies and stifle the lawsuits against him, perhaps we’d have a case. But all that would have to be proved, as it was with Nixon. But Nixon’s abuses were almost entirely job-related. The same kind of stuff that would get any employee fired. Like with HP’s chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who hired a security firm to spy on other boardmembers to find a leaker. She “resigned” seventeen days after the initial story broke in Newsweek. But would that have happened had she hired those same guys to spy on her husband? Probably not. It’s only because it was work-related that her activities got her fired from work. That just makes sense.
Above the Law
And so I don’t see what the difference is. The presidency is just another job and should be treated as such. In fact, I think the people who put too much respect in the presidency are doing democracy a great disservice. I don’t want royalty in this country. We are not choosing a national leader or granting power to our betters. We’re hiring a fellow citizen to do an important job. Monarchs and tyrants have often been given deity status by their people. I just want a good administrator. Someone to do a job. That’s all. It’s only when we hold the presidency to a different, higher standard that we start to see ego-heads abusing power.
Nixon thought he was the law. Bush just doesn’t see how it applies to him. They think their job position gives them special powers that they’d be fools not to use. Those are problems. But a president who limits himself to basic perjury to fix his personal problems is a huge improvement. Sure, I don’t think it was right. But I don’t think any employee would have been fired for that, and can’t imagine how Clinton should be held to any other standard.
And sure, if the President does something that would end him up in jail, I suppose we might need to find a replacement for him (though he’d probably be able to get a lot more done in prison). But if an offense would be dealt with through non-prison terms (as DWI and minor perjury often are), then there shouldn’t be any problem with enforcing the standard punishment. So I guess our real problem is that we weren’t left with any other option than to kick the guy out of the job. And I don’t see how that’s not entirely too drastic under the circumstances. And that’s why we should probably limit this stuff to work-related crimes. If the crime ain’t interfering with the job, maybe we should let them keep the job.
And as long as they’re doing that job, I don’t see why we should complain. It’s only when we get a dangerous boob like Bush that we need to start worrying. Hell, I’d rather have a competent president with character flaws and a few personal illegalities than an incompetent president with a clean record. And Bush doesn’t even have the clean record. But that should go without saying. It’s Bush’s incompetence that forces him to lie. It’s his self-inflicted ignorance that allows him to believe that he really has the power that Cheney’s minions have convinced him he has. Bush couldn’t get anything done otherwise.
So it all goes hand in hand. A strong administer doesn’t need to rely on wiretapping his political foes or circumventing any power-check that our Founding Fathers placed on the position. They go to work. They do their job. They make the country work. Clinton did that. Bush didn’t. It’s that simple. I’m not necessarily saying that incompetence is an impeachable offense. But it makes a lot more sense than the charges against Clinton, and is more likely to get you fired in the real world than a crime committed on personal time. I don’t want the Pope for President. I just want a good employee.