And Again: The Wrong Debate

Washington Times 12.29.98
Balint Vazsonyi

Those who speak loudest for the Democratic Party have fallen victim to a peculiar disease that goes under the name "Compartmentalized Brain Syndrome" or "CBS" for short. Information is deposited in various compartments of the sufferers brain, but traffic is not established between the various compartments. The patient is unable to connect cause and effect, or any other logical tie between portions of, say, a public statement.

Take Congressman "X" or Senator "Y" (both may be seen every day and every night on various "talking head" shows) who issue passionate pleas for a swift, "proportionate", and bipartisan solution to the president's problems (read "censure"), then unleash an equally passionate litany of the president's reprehensible conduct, his lies under oath, his general disgrace of the office. If the second part of such statements is true, the first can only be explained as CBS.

Alternatively, connections are asserted where healthy minds see none, such as between impeachment of the president and the future pollution of water.

The same politicians also tend to comment on the president's own CBS but, as evidence of their own affliction, they think of his particular variety of the disease as a great asset.

Advanced cases affect the eye-brain connection. During the floor debate on impeachment, several Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives offered us ostensible quotes from the Constitution of the United States not to be found in the standard version, as words like "against the state" following "high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

But the worst derailment of this historic debate occurred with the introduction of the word "punishment."

Nowhere in the Constitution is the power to punish conferred upon the Congress of the United States. Indeed, Article I, Section 3. specifically refers any penalty to the realm of the ordinary legal process of "Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment."

The sole matters to be considered by Congress are removal of the president from his present office, and his disqualification from future office. The inclusion of "Misdemeanors" in addition to "high Crimes" attests to the Framers' intention to provide a catch-all term which would confer both the obligation and the mandate upon legislators to employ common sense in making the determination. If instead the language had confined action to specific crimes, all manner of misconduct might have escaped constitutional review.

And what the Framers did not want under any circumstances was for a president to remain in office after he had become unfit to serve.

That, and only that is the question facing this nation.

If it is true what Democrats are saying about the president - that he lied under oath, that he disgraced the office, that his conduct was altogether reprehensible, that he has failed to be truthful about his misdeeds - then this president is clearly unfit to serve. Any human being who consistently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with the office held renders himself unfit to carry on in that office.

Thus, whereas Congress has not been given powers to punish the president, it is under mandate to impeach and remove from office a president who has become unfit to serve.

The president apparently disagrees not only with the details of his own conduct, but with the constitutional provisions and processes currently invoked. A few hours after articles of impeachment had been adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, the president declared both that and any future action in the U.S. Senate irrelevant, by announcing his intention to stay in office until "the last hour of the last day of [his] term."

It may be argued that, having taken an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" (not once but twice), the president has rendered himself unfit to serve simply by so disavowing those oaths on national television.

Much talk may be heard about a "constitutional crisis." Generally, people use the phrase to describe the president's predicament. No. Congress acting on its constitutional mandate in addressing presidential misconduct is not a crisis. Quite the contrary. It is a shining example of the rock-steady underpinnings provided by the Framers.

Yet a constitutional crisis has begun to cast its shadow across the fruited plain. It comes in the form of lawmakers who, having won election under cover of the Democratic Party of the United States, use their office to promote any and every course that will take us off the constitutional path. At first they appeared to be only House members - mostly those listed on the web site of "Democratic Socialists," the American arm of the Socialist International.

But now, several United States Senators have picked up the "Rhetoric of Unconstitution" by announcing a verdict before any trial.

That, my fellow Americans, is a constitutional crisis.