Lori Lancaster | February 17, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | February 17, 2004
I find it hard to believe that we'd impeach two presidents in a row. I find it even harder to believe what we impeached Clinton for, just a few years ago.

Jackie Mason | February 18, 2004
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Scott Hardie | February 18, 2004
Clinton and Nixon can tell you: It's not that you screwed up, it's that you lied about it afterwards. I'm glad Bush learned their lesson.

Erik Bates | February 18, 2004
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Kris Weberg | February 18, 2004
History also teaches us that impeachment has rarely been used for its intended purpose. The first president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson, is generally agreed upon to have been a victim of partisan politics. Nixon, knowing he'd be impeached, resigned before it could happen (a.k.a. the "you can't fire me, I quit" method). Bill Clinton, after a long investigation of incidents from before and after his election to the presidency, with a few detours along the way, was impeached by a majority opposition party Congress for perjury during a sexual harrassment suit funded by politcial opponents regarding alleged extramarital affairs.

Not a very good pedigree for this particular check and/or balance; not that I don't want impeachment retained, of course. It's really the only way to remove a president who has become a genuine danger to governmental and Constitutional process. Nixon, though he escaped impeachment in kamikaze fashion, reamins perhaps the ideal case for the process.

(Interestingly, the great presidents circumvent the Constitution without penalty -- Johnson's immediate predecessor Lincoln illegally suspended habeas corpus; and FDR, during World War II, ignored both that doctrine and the prohibition against bills of attainder by creating internment camps for Japanese-Americans. Strangely, FDR has been reviled for his actions, while Lincoln's wartime activities are rarely contested outside the realms of Confederate-symapthizing revisionist history.)

Jeff Flom | February 18, 2004
Every president does bad things. Above all, though, the president must be a leader.

If the president does something that offends the rest of the government, namely the congress, to the point where they don't want to follow him anymore, then he has to go.

If President Clinton's antics angered the rest of government so much, which it obviously did, then he must suffer the consequences.

If Clinton was a good leader his government would not have rebelled against him.

That's what impeachment is for.

Point is, it's not what you do, it's who you anger and how much you anger them while you are doing it. That's politics. That's what government is.

Kris Weberg | February 18, 2004
The language of the Constitution on the matter reports that the standard is "high crimes and misdemeanors," not "offense to the government." Your stated standard would seem to indicate that a sufficient partisan split could indeed justify impeachment.

And surely we can all name "good leaders" who offended many in their time; just as we can think of atrocious leaders who were quite popular.

Anna Gregoline | February 18, 2004
Impeachment? Does it really matter, as the populace can do little about it either way?

Jeff Flom | February 18, 2004
Kris,

Gray Davis was recalled becuase the people who are supposed to follow him rebelled against him. No one ever claimed, that I know of, that he had done something illegal. He simply committed an offense against people who had the power to remove him from office. In other words he made an enormous political blunder.

But that's apples and oranges. They're not. The people do not have the right to recall a President, that power rests in the hands of the Congress and it's called impeachment. Is there more of a legal framework for impeachment than the California recall process, sure.
But a president must be mindful of it because it exists as a way people who are politically offended can get rid of him.

Gray Davis ignored the possibility of a recall and lied to the voters to get elected, then once he was re-elected he said well, you know, things are much worse off than we thought, I'm going to have to triple your car tax and so on. If you don't like it that's just tough shit for you, you elected me and now I can do whatever I want, Caveat Emptor. The California voters said umm no, were returning this merchandise, it is defective.

Clinton ignored the possibility of impeachment and told the Congress and the public: You elected me, I can do whatever I want. If I want to cheat on my wife with a 19 yr old then that's what I'll do. You voted for me and there's nothing you can do about it now ha ha, na na na boo boo. *Clinton thumb's nose*

Anna, Impeachment does matter and there is something the people can do about it. In the case of California and any state that has a recall process the people can do this. At the federal level where the people do not have the right to recall they can still pressure their representatives one way or the other on the issue and ultimately vote for or against a candidate that was for impeachment.

Certainly, elections are extremely, extremely complicated things but the facts are that since the Clinton Scandal / Impeachment the Republicans have reclaimed the presidency and have picked up seats in the House and Senate. So, perhaps the voters are saying something about impeachment.

Anna Gregoline | February 18, 2004
I shouldn't say anything, because I no longer believe that any American or group of Americans can really truly influence our government in any way.

Jeff Flom | February 19, 2004
Ahh, you can influence government, you just have to take the gloves off and stop playing by their rules.

Vote for a third party. Especially one that seeks substantive campaign finance reform. You can't just vote for them for president though, you must make sure that this third party wins elections from the city level on up.

If you truly want change you must be willing to sacrifice a party; obliterate it and start over from scratch.

Anna Gregoline | February 19, 2004
I don't believe that a third party will happen in my lifetime.

Erik Bates | February 20, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | February 20, 2004
Americans cared a lot more about the governmental process back in 1860. I think the vast majority of Americans know that there is little they can do to effect their DAY TO DAY lives by electing or not electing a government official.

Question, maybe Jeff knows - What would happen if no one voted? Would the electoral college be able to elect someone anyway?

Jackie Mason | February 20, 2004
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Jeff Flom | February 20, 2004
Anna,

Yes, the electoral college is not bound to vote for who the people vote for. The electoral college as we know is the only vote that counts. If everyone refused to choose electors then there would be a problem.

Nevertheless, if everyone stopped voting it would send a chill through the spine of Washington.

I have to say, though, Anna, the Democrats and Republicans have you right where they want you. Dependent on them. It's a false dependency.

I say Democrats and Republicans because they are the same thing. The sad fact is, in this country we have to pay billions of dollars, literally, to get our government to do what we want it to do. We pay this expense in the form of elections; what do you hear every candidate out there talking about, give me money, lots and lots of money -- If you want to get your way. Politics in America is one inch away from Racketeering. The only way to stop it is to vote for a third party.

Kris Weberg | February 20, 2004
Except, of course, that pretty much every state has passed laws binding electors to represent the popular vote within the last two centuries.

Anna Gregoline | February 20, 2004
Well, I wish everyone would just give up the illusion of power and stop voting already. It would be kind of neat.

Scott Hardie | February 20, 2004
A friend and I used to get into impassioned debates over the value of the Electoral College. Ever the pessimist, he took the Alexander Hamilton position that voters are morons, and we need electors free to vote differently from them, to prevent a clown like, I dunno, Arnold Schwarzenegger from getting into office just because the nation's idiots liked him. Ever the optimist, I argued that having electors voting differently from the people would make this country an aristocracy instead of a republic or a democracy, and we'd be throwing away hundreds of years of progress and governmental reform; even if the idiots elect a terrible president, as a country we should be obligated to live under his rule. I'm sure Anna will say that we have no power to elect who we want anyway, but I for one am tiring of the Electoral College and what it represents.

Anna Gregoline | February 20, 2004
Yep, it's all fixed. =)

Jackie Mason | February 20, 2004
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Jeff Flom | February 20, 2004
If you believe that it is fixed, then fix it. Fatalism doesn't work in politics.

Kris, if I passed a law that says you have to vote Republican would that be constitutional?
For more on the constitutional issue of faithless electors go to this website http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/election/electionross4.htm

Anna Gregoline | February 21, 2004
Fatalism works in politics if you stay out of them. I'm out!


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