Amnesty and Impeachment | National Review Online

Andrew C. McCarthy

Andrew C. McCarthy

There is high anxiety over President Obama’s impending unilateral amnesty order for millions of illegal aliens. How many millions? The estimates vary. On the low end, 3 to 8 million, assuming some correlation to the potential beneficiaries of the president’s already existing amnesty decrees (including DACA or Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals). On the high end, as many as 9 to 34 million, factoring in likely categorical expansions of amnesty and their ramifications over the next several years.

The anxiety stems from a remorseless truth that no one — most especially Mr. Obama’s most ardent detractors — wants to confront. It is the truth I have addressed, to much groaning and teeth-gnashing, in Faithless Execution, my recent book on presidential lawlessness.

It is this: The nation overwhelmingly objects to Obama’s immigration lawlessness, but it has no stomach for the only effective counter to it — the plausible threat of impeachment.

To hear the demagogue-in-chief tell it, the controversy over how to deal with the approximately 12 million illegal aliens currently in the U.S. is a Manichean debate between enlightened humanitarians and vulgar xenophobes. (To be fair to the president, he is far from alone in peddling this smear.) But objections to Obama’s reckless immigration policies — indeed, to his policies in general, as this week’s historic election reaffirmed — cut across party and philosophical lines.

To be sure, the most intense protest is heard in “restrictionist” circles and among those for whom rule-of-law and national-security concerns trump sympathy for the plight of legions of decent but unlawfully present non-citizens (some of whom were brought here as children and are blameless for their illegal status). There are also, however, many enthusiasts of immigration amnesty — the euphemism is legislative “reform” — who recognize that the president’s sweeping, dictatorial approach is angering the public. That damages not just the cause but the career prospects of those who’ve made the cause their own.

So, on immigration, the president has managed to unite much of the country . . . against him — who says he’s divisive? Nevertheless, Obama made clear again this week that he intends to push ahead with massive amnesty by executive order. Further infuriating the public with his cynicism, he has strategically but quite openly delayed his directive until after the election, as if to say, “The rubes are too stupid to grasp what I’m doing even when I make no secret of it!”

As Faithless Execution recounts, the delegates at the 1787 Philadelphia convention included impeachment in the Constitution because they believed it to be “indispensible” (as Madison put it) to preventing the abuse of executive power. Congressional authority to remove a president would be a decisive check. Still, the Framers reckoned it would rarely be invoked.

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