Mazzuca: The new normal
A little less than a year ago, Nancy Pelosi said: “… impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country.” For a brief moment, I thought I had witnessed a moment of clarity and integrity emanating from the House of Representatives. But alas, it was not to be — unabashed partisanship would continue to rule the day.
So whatever happened to “compelling, overwhelming and bipartisan?” Who knows what motivates politicians, and while this is speculation, I believe the speaker’s decision to move forward with impeachment epitomized “the tail wagging the dog,” as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the far left of the Democratic Party whipsawed the speaker into taking the action she did. Tit-for-tat is a way of life in politics, and I believe Pelosi was given a choice — no impeachment, no support for the Democratic nominee next November.
By her actions, Pelosi revealed herself to be more adept at referencing the U.S. Constitution than following it and has established a very dangerous precedent. Pelosi knows full well what the framers meant by the phrase “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
It was to signify only conduct that seriously harms the public and seriously compromises a president’s ability to continue. But with the advent of the only purely partisan impeachment in our nation’s history, Nancy Pelosi has taken the nation into very dangerous territory. In the future, bipartisanship will no longer be necessary to impeach a president; all a future opposition party will need is a 51% majority to overturn the will of the people.
The framers didn’t want a parliamentary system, nor did they intend for impeachment to be just another political tool; they wanted impeachment to be rare and even then, used only as a last resort. But as a result of Pelosi’s actions future presidents will be exposed to impeachment whenever the opposition party is in the majority and finds a president’s policies not to their liking. Taking this a step further, it’s reasonable to fear that future first-term presidents will run the risk of impeachment whenever he or she loses the midterms — a very unhealthy form of government.
Regardless of which side of the aisle one is on, what should concern all Americans is whether this is part of an emerging trend in American politics, a “new normal,” where calls for impeachment begin the day a new president takes the oath of office.
As I look at our political landscape since the 2016 election I fear there are other signs of this “new normal,” to wit: As the inspector general’s report on Russia detailed, we had a FISA Court subverting a sitting president, defending the FBI’s machinations and failing to redress the “irregularities” even after repeated notifications by the ranking member of House Intelligence Committee.
This new normal may give license to more former government officials to inject themselves into public policy as John Kerry did, who after leaving office met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif several times regarding the nuclear agreement. Kerry also met secretly with European leaders advising them on how to save the flawed JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), all of which is contradictory to official United State policy.
As an aside, Kerry was free to state his opinion about policy at any time, to any person; but meeting with the foreign minister of an enemy state to advise him on circumventing American foreign policy is a violation of the Logan Act.
This new normal may also bring more instances of officials such as Obama’s Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who actively worked to undermine the president by refusing to carry out lawful executive orders. And predicated on the testimony we heard during the House impeachment hearings, the new normal may no longer require witnesses to have first-hand knowledge of an event, perhaps all that will be necessary to bring articles of impeachment is hearsay and opinions.
And perhaps too this new normal is what provided the incentive to former intelligence officials to become media “super spooks” and cash in on cable TV while bashing an incoming president as John Brennan, James Clapper and Michael Hayden have done. The bottom line is long after Donald Trump leaves office this shameful episode will reverberate through American politics and will assuredly affect the ability of future presidents to govern. Is this really what we want?
Quote of the day: “ I pray for the President all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.” — Nancy Pelosi
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.