Barack Obama repeatedly abused his executive power as president. That is worth noting because we now have House Democrats and their buddies in ideological clothing insisting that abuse of power is sufficient grounds for impeachment. They are talking about President Donald Trump, of course, and have cleverly selected a transgression equivalent to saying you are guilty because you abysmally do what all presidents do.
Back in the days when the founders were arguing about constitutional content, some wanted to be able to impeach a president for such things as “maladministration.” James Madison, who agreed that the right to congressional impeachment was crucial for governmental stability, said heaven help us. Where would you draw the line, he wanted to know. Would any kind of administrative stumble be enough for action?
We therefore ended up with a Constitution saying impeachment required treason, bribery or “other high crimes and misdemeanors” with some saying that phrase at the least implies malfeasance as serious as treason and bribery.
You don’t get that in Trump delaying military aid to Ukraine and asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Vice President Joe Biden. Ukraine got the aid and, according to the U.S. secretary of defense, at no military disadvantage. Biden never got investigated, though his own conflict of interest was twice as startling as that of Trump, who had plenty of reason to be concerned about corruption even if Biden is now striving to be president.
But on to Obama who never talked about “fake news” but proved himself more quiver-worthy to free press principles by his administration spying on reporters and, in national security cases, threatening reporters with jail if they did not reveal their sources. The administration also set records on refusing requests for governmental information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Obama, please remember, made appointments requiring congressional acquiescence without congressional acquiescence. It has been noted that he worked things so that, in the Chrysler bailout, creditors did not get the money due them under law. A bunch of it went to Democratically beloved unions instead. As other seekers of the truth also report, he started regulating the internet despite congressional requirements that he do no such thing.
In implementing Obamacare, he rewrote Obamacare in concert with his congressional talents, and there were 22 times he said he could not constitutionally give reprieves by himself to illegal aliens, nevertheless finding it convenient to do as much during an election campaign.
Obama made a deal with Iran that let it keep the means of producing nuclear weapons and enabled it to keep inspectors outside of military bases while the administration said some of its violations in trying to buy nuclear technology were not violations because the tricksters were caught. The power abuse was refusing to submit the deal to Congress for treaty verification just possibly leading to something less threatening.
Back in the states, it turned out that the Internal Revenue Service was denying tax breaks to certain nonprofit conservative organizations while giving them to nonprofit liberal organizations. The department came up with excuses that wouldn’t fool a first-grader, but, then, we the people are all in kindergarten.
Also, pretending the founders never wrote a Constitution, Obama unilaterally gave us a court-snubbed Clean Power Plan that would have changed state laws while raising utility rates sky high and deterring climate change by an undetectable speck.
Remember, by the way, how the administration illegitimately told universities they could forget federal funds if they indulged in due process in going after men accused of sexual misdeeds? Standards of fairness do not apply to men because, well, they are men and therefore in need of abuse of power.
Obama was among our most autocratic presidents, especially when you consider how he also set records for new liberty-shriveling regulations, but I am not saying he should have been impeached. I am saying that some of his offenses were as bad as Trump’s.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may e-mail him at email@example.com.