Author and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy joined the Heartland Institute on June 12th to talk about his new book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, with a packed and lively crowd of Heartland supporters. McCarthy was incisive and exceptionally convincing.
McCarthy began his talk by bemoaning the fact that an author must eventually stop writing and submit a book for publication, which means that events occurring between the final draft’s submission and the actual publication cannot be included in the text. This fact means that his book is “two or three impeachable offenses behind.” Even still, the list he presents in Faithless Execution is enthralling and terrifying.
The talk then turned briefly to the subject of Bowe Bergdahl, whose release has stirred up tremendous controversy in Washington and across the nation. McCarthy explained that the focus in Congress was all wrong, and that the issue was not really about the violation of the statute requiring the president to talk to Congress 30 days before the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Rather, the issue of concern is the fact that releasing five Taliban leaders represents a clear case of replenishing an enemy that is still fighting the United States, which is an “irresponsible dereliction of duty of a commander-in-chief.”
McCarthy explained that, despite the focus going awry, the Bergdahl case has had two positive effects. First, it was perfectly timed to publicize his book. Second, it had finally led mainstream politicians to start using a word they have constantly avoided: impeachment.
Impeachment has ceased to be muttered behind closed doors alone and is now being spoken openly. “Even Lindsey Graham is comfortable uttering it,” McCarthy said.
The Obama administration has been, according to McCarthy, deliberately “overloading the system,” engaging in a cascade of scandals that takes advantage of ordinary people’s finite ability to deal with crises. McCarthy gave the example of how the new EPA regulations that may have profound impacts on the health of the economy have barely been discussed, sandwiched as they are between the Bergdahl and VA hospital scandals.
It is because of these scandals and persistent abrogation of duty that McCarthy proposes the process of impeachment. McCarthy explained to the audience that, “Impeachment is a political remedy, not a legal one.” In other words, despite the trappings of the courtroom, impeachment proceedings are not about assessing criminal liability. Rather, the “high crimes and misdemeanors” to which the Constitution refers are concerned with breaches of fiduciary duty and violations of the public trust. McCarthy stated that he could identify many such breaches committed during Obama’s tenure.
Chief among the president’s impeachable offenses, McCarthy explained, is his failure to execute laws faithfully. The president is the only federal official under the Constitution required to take an oath to execute the laws faithfully and to defend the Constitution. McCarthy cited Obama’s unilateral amendments of Obamacare and his selective and arbitrary enforcement of certain laws to benefit his allies and harm his opponents as evidence of unfaithful execution.
Another offense McCarthy identified was Obama’s dereliction of duty. He identified the atrocities committed to Americans in Benghazi and the previous unauthorized military actions in Libya as clear examples of this offense.
After outlining these offenses, McCarthy turned the discussion to the political climate and the prospects for impeachment. McCarthy was adamant that impeachment must not be a frivolous exercise. After all, it takes a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict, which is only possible if there is wide bipartisan support for the proceedings both among legislators and in the public.
McCarthy then pointed out that there is no appetite in the American people for impeachment. He pointed to Bill Clinton’s impeachment as a clear example of the dangers of impeachment when there is no popular will for it. When an impeachment fails, the media can paint it as an endorsement of the very actions under censure.
What McCarthy proposed, in his book and during the talk, is a concerted effort to change the political environment so that the issue of lawlessness is front-and-center in the public discourse. Changing that environment would likely push Obama to actually execute the laws faithfully and to act within the bounds of the Constitution.
Failure to change the discourse could have serious negative effects for the future of the American republic, as McCarthy deftly explained. He described how the accretion of presidential power erodes citizens’ liberty, and that this is “not a conservative issue, not a Republican issue, it is an American issue.” Unless something is done about it, the powers Obama takes for himself will belong to his successors, of whatever party.
McCarthy explained that he was still hopeful for the republic’s future, a hopefulness he expanded upon during the Q&A session after his talk. When asked about what people can do if impeachment is not yet possible, he said, “Let’s make a big issue out of lawlessness.”
It is that issue that must be won before the imperial presidency can be stopped. Andrew McCarthy’s magisterial book will go a long way to winning it.