Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 15, 2013

ROOT: Smells like impeachment

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If you use a threat often enough without any real results, then you wind up with a threat that means nothing. However, when you use a threat constantly and then the threat winds up being useless when it is carried out, then the threat loses its luster.

I did some research, because I have nothing better to do when I sit around working all day. In the history of the United States, 13 out of 44 presidents have had articles of impeachment against them actually introduced into Congress. Out of those 13, two were actually impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

You see, the word “impeached” is one of those buzzwords that pundits like to throw around because it gets the blood boiling for the average American. Joe Six Pack just loves it when a president he is not fond of has the word “impeached” attached to his name in some way.

Let me explain to you what it actually means to impeach a president. First of all, Johnson and Clinton were both impeached by the House of Representatives and both were acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon probably would have been the first president to be impeached and removed by both the House and the Senate, but he resigned before any of that could take place.

The actual impeachment is not as dramatic as people may think. There is this misconception among the populous that impeachment means that the president is automatically removed from office. That is not the case. The House of Representatives, by a simple majority vote, can impeach a president based on an impeachment motion that generates a hearing. Being impeached is the equivalent of being indicted of a crime. In other words, it is a grand pageant that is basically used to say “yes, this guy screwed up.”

President Clinton was impeached, but he remained in office. Why? Because the Senate must get a 2/3 majority vote to remove the president from office after he has been impeached. In the case of Andrew Johnson, his actual Senate trial fell one vote short of removing him from office. President Clinton fell about 20 votes short of being removed from office. In other words, it wasn’t even close for Clinton.

The attention surrounding the Clinton impeachment shows how little the American public really knows about presidential politics. When Clinton was impeached, everyone assumed he was guilty. No one realized that he had to be tried in the Senate to actually have a verdict. It is kind of like the 1980 Winter Olympic Games when Team USA beat the Soviets. Most people do not realize that the Soviet game was not the gold medal game. But it was still a miracle.

So you can scream all you want about impeaching President Obama, but it ain’t gonna get you nowhere. Guess what? The Democrats control the Senate. Even if the House of Representatives were to impeach the president, which it probably would, he would still remain the president because a Democratic Senate will never find a Democratic president guilty.

Instead of throwing buzzwords around, perhaps we should try to find some real answers to our problems. To me, Obamacare is just about the most dangerous thing I have seen in a long time. I already know at least three small business owners who plan to go out of business when the insurance marketplace goes into effect next year.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine waiting for a federal law to put your small business out of business? It seems, to a person like me who is not politically savvy, that President Obama is killing small business to help bolster big business. Without a complete understanding of the healthcare reform bill, I cannot be sure of it. But that is how it looks to me.

Before you start firing off your politically charged emails to me, please understand that I will not get into an in-depth discussion with you about this topic. Every president screwed up something. George W. Bush started a war with Iraq over nothing and he never stood trial for it.

In my opinion, every president has his good points and his bad points. But the worst thing the public can do is start getting caught up in buzzwords like “impeachment.” We should be much more concerned with the fact that the Supreme Court said a law mandating that the American people must buy health insurance or be fined in the form a federal tax is Constitutional. The ramifications for small businesses are even worse.

I may not be a lawyer, but even I know crap when I smell it.

George N. Root is a Lockport resident and not in danger of getting impeached. His column appears every Wednesday and is rarely the fodder for smart political discussions. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net, but do yourself a favor and just send your political questions to Bob Confer or Scott Leffler.