The New York Post reported today that a plurality of respondents in a recent poll (33%) named President Obama as the worst President since World War II. George W. Bush came in second with 28%, and Richard Nixon was a distant third at 13%. So now I’m somewhat comforted to know that it’s not just me.
When I used to rail at Bush, I would call him derisively ‘Our Fearless Leader.’ But I can’t call Obama that: he isn’t fearless, and I’ve never seen him actually lead.
People used to say that Jimmy Carter was our worst President. B’ut his problem was that he was once a naval officer, and approached the Presidency the same way: address problems forthrightly, and take the necessary measures to deal with them, even though it may be difficult or painful. Obama, in contrast, seems perfectly happy kicking the can down the road.
But if he’s that bad of a President, can we do something about it? Some of the conservative Web sites that I read suggest that Obama should be impeached. Its a charming thought, but, alas, I don’t see it happening.
We began the process of impeaching President Nixon because it appeared that he was using the power of his office to subvert our democratic system. (Nixon resigned at that point, and we never got to the bottom of what actually happened.) We impeached President Clinton (but failed to convict him) because of alleged personal crimes (he lied under oath). While these crimes had no discernable impact on his ability to govern, they were nevertheless crimes.
We can reasonably say that President Obama is not respecting that part of the Constitution that requires him to ‘faithfully execute the laws.’ But the Constitution is deliberately vague on that point. The Founders expected that a President might have to deal with conflicting constraints, and anticipated that he might have to use some professional judgement in executing the laws. So the requirement is more of a guideline.
Moreover, impeachment was never meant as a remedy for policy decisions that one might disagree with, or alleged disrespect for the office, or lying to the American people (which for the typical politician comes almost as easily as breathing). For those, the appropriate remedy is not to re-elect the man or his party. But we did re-elect Obama in 2012, and by a substantial margin.
Some have suggested that the President could be charged with treason. But that won’t work either. In the absence of a declaration of war, the executive gets to decide who the enemy is.
In brief, our Constitution was never designed to deal with the case of a President who pursues his own agenda, with apparent disregard not only for the Constitution and the rule of law, but for common sense. The Founders presumed that such a man would never become President.
But we elected him, not once but twice….