Chuck Hagel Is Talking Impeachment Againby Doug Mataconis
Earlier this month, I wrote about statements by Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel that seemed to suggest that he thought President could be impeached because of his Iraq policy. Yesterday, he appeared on ABC’s This Week and made the speculation even more explicit:
WASHINGTON â€” Some lawmakers who complain that President Bush is flouting Congress and the public with his Iraq policies are considering impeachment an option, a Republican senator said Sunday.
Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent critic of the war, stopped short of calling for Bush’s impeachment.
But he made clear that some lawmakers viewed that as an option should Bush choose to push ahead despite public sentiment against the war.
“Any president who says ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else’ or ‘I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed’ â€” if a president really believes that, then there are â€¦ ways to deal with that,” Hagel said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Yes, Senator, there are ways to deal with it, but impeachment isn’t one of them.
Let’s go over this again, the impeachment power, set forth in Article II, Section 4 is pretty clear
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Hagel, however, is not talking about impeaching Bush for high crimes, misdemenaors, treason, or bribery, he is asserting the idea that the Congress has the right to seek to remove the President from office over a policy disagreement.
Part of the reason for this is fairly clear. Even if the Democrats Iraq War plan, which Hagel apparently supports, is able to garner enough votes to stop a filibuster and make it through the Senate, it is clear that the President will veto it. There is not enough support for the plan in either the House or the Senate to override the veto. Therefore, we’ll have stalemate and the President will be free to pursue his current Iraq policy unless Congress takes the step of cutting off funding for the war, which I submit they do not have the political courage to even try to do.
Like it or not, George Bush is President through January 20, 2009 and the Constitution gives him the authority as Commander in Chief to carry out the Iraq War as he sees fit.
Hagel’s comments also make it clear why the Founders limited the impeachment power the way that they did. If Congress had the authority to attempt to remove the President, Vice-President, or Justice of the Supreme Court at will, then separation of powers would become a meaningless concept, and the President would become a mere minister serving at the pleasure of whichever party has majority control of the Legislative Branch. That is what the Parlimentary system, which existed in England at the time the Constitution was written, is all about. Had the Founders wanted to mimic it, they very could have. The fact that they didn’t leads to the conclusion that they wanted co-equal branches of government for a reason.
Now, I am not a supporter of the President’s policy in Iraq. But he is the President and has the authority to carry it out. If Congress wishes to change that policy, then they can use the power of the purse to do so. If they don’t have the political courage to do that, they need to just be quiet until the Bush Administration is over.
H/T: Captain’s Quarters