Uncle Pancakes is in a Foul Mood. Keep that in mind as you read this list. I suppose the fact that I’d spend a few hours working on a list of Presidents in order of impeachment-worthiness ought to have been a clue, huh? Anyway, this isn’t a discussion of who was good or who wasn’t. I’m only interested in “who did things which ought to have resulted in their removal from office.” With that out of the way…
5-7 (tie): Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush
Why they’re impeachable: I can’t think of any particular action by any of these presidents which would warrant impeachment. I’m not saying that any of them were or were not great leaders; I just don’t think they didn’t do anything to deserve removal from office.
4. Bill Clinton
Why he’s impeachable: Lied about sex with an intern in a civil suit.
The case against Clinton relies on your belief that any lie under oath, no matter how immaterial to your presidency, is enough to remove a President from office. Did he perjure himself? Maybe. Perjury requires not just an untruth but it has to be an untruth about fact, not an interpretation. I personally think he probably did perjure himself, but I have trouble really caring about it. It was a stunt designed to embarrass or entrap the President and it had very little to do with his function as President.
3. Ronald Reagan
Why he’s impeachable: Lied about trading arms for hostages; illegally supported drug lords in an attempt to overthrow a leftist government.
When talking about Reagan, it’s really difficult to explain his charisma to people who don’t remember the eighties. How else can you explain the following quote:
“A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.”
So, yeah, he lied, he got caught, and he still claims that he doesn’t really believe he lied. Only Reagan could get away with that. You kind of have to have been there. If Clinton, who was not without charisma himself, had tried that, he’d have been out of office in a heartbeat. That’s not even counting the fact that Reagan’s administration illegally funded the “contras” after Congress passed a law forbidding him from doing so. Sure, Reagan’s lies weren’t “under oath”, but given that he broke the law in some very serious ways I am confident in rating Reagan as more “impeachable” than Clinton.
2. Barack Obama
Why he’s impeachable: Illegal spying on citizens, illegal assassination programs, non-prosecution (and possible continuation of) torture
I’ll start this one by saying that, when the dust settles, Obama could well be number 1 on the list. We don’t know the full scope of what sort of shenanigans have taken place on his watch. The list of things we don’t know enough about is long, but what we do know is troubling. The drone assassination program is a huge problem. The constant litany of lies about the scope of the domestic spying program is a huge problem. The failure to aggressively prosecute anyone and everyone involved in torture is absolutely in violation of the law and there would be no real defense against it. If it turns out that the torture program was expanded under Obama, or if he gets the U.S. into another idiot war? He could yet wind up at the top.
1. George W. Bush
Why he’s impeachable: Manufacturing evidence to drive the country to war, torture, illegal detentions
Of course, Obama’s got some work to do to take over the top spot. It’s one thing not to prosecute torturers; it’s another thing to enable them. One of the common misconceptions about the John Yoo documents is that he was asked to determine if the “enhanced interrogation” techniques were legal and he determined that they were. That’s not it at all: He wasn’t asked to answer a question, he was asked to validate a conclusion which had already been reached.
Look at this way: If I were asked to, I could concoct some way to argue that any baseball player was “great.” I could argue that, say, Steve Christmas was a great player. He hit .364 with a .727 slugging percentage one year, as a catcher! Of course, we all know that Steve Christmas wasn’t a great player, but that’s the point. What Yoo did was not answer the question “Who are the great baseball players”, he was told “Give me a document proving that Steve Christmas was a great player.”
President Bush said that his greatest regret was that Iraq didn’t have any of the weapons he’d claimed they had. The WMD were the strongest of the rationalizations for invading Iraq, and even President Bush admits that they were wrong.
Then, you have to throw in “jailing people indefinitely without charge even after your own people have said that they didn’t do anything” which strikes me as a criminal violation of rights and due process, etc., but I could be wrong. Regardless, I think the most ironclad case for impeachment has to go to George W. Bush…for now, at least.
Now, the real question is: How many of these gents do I really believe are impeachable. I’d say #4-#7 are “definitely not”, #3 (Reagan) is a “maybe”, and #1 and #2 are “definitely.”