July 25, 2019 | Reading Time: < 1 minute

A flawed Constitution?

Ian Millhiser says it doesn’t give us a way to get rid of bad presidents. Impeachment? No. He calls that “a paper tiger”: There should be a way to remove a criminal president from office, but the impeachment power ain’t it. The power of impeachment is a paper tiger, largely unused throughout American history, and…

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Ian Millhiser says it doesn’t give us a way to get rid of bad presidents.

Impeachment? No. He calls that “a paper tiger”:

There should be a way to remove a criminal president from office, but the impeachment power ain’t it. The power of impeachment is a paper tiger, largely unused throughout American history, and useless against officials with a significant partisan power base.

I’m still with the moral argument even if the Constitution is flawed.

Read his piece and let me know what you think.

—JS

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.

10 Comments

  1. Rhea Graham on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

    Rather than focus so much on the U.K. parliament, perhaps explore why governors of states (such as Gray Davis in California) can be recalled, but not US presidents?

    • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Love that.

  2. Carrington Ward on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

    The more important Congressional power, which we have forgotten in our muddling, is that of impeaching executive officers below the President. When the framers wrote about impeachment, they were, very likely, thinking about Stafford and Laud as much as they were thinking about King George.

    • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Impeach Barr.

      • Carrington Ward on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

        Pelosi missed the chance to impeach Acosta, but Barr is a strategic link in Trump’s chain, so, yes.

        I’d be tempted to target Chao because of the optics and the direct threat to McConnell.

        The thing is, the second impeachment will be easier than the first, so there is good reason to target the the weak or the sick, or even to slam the door on someone on their way out already.

  3. Thornton Prayer on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

    I think Millhiser is correct. The process for removing a president is too cumbersome to be truly effective. If we could adopt some of the state level methods for the office of the presidency, that would make the accountability of the office more viable.

    • John Stoehr on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Great point.

  4. rick@allyourscreens.com on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

    I understand his sentiment, but removing a President from office SHOULD be difficult. We don’t want it so painless that each administration just brings a removal effort from the party out of power. Whether or not the Senate will vote to remove Donald Trump, failing to even make the effort is more of a failure of courage than a flaw in the Constitution.

    • Carrington Ward on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Actually, perhaps it should be easier: i.e. equivalent to a vote of no confidence in a Parliamentary system. All said and done, I’m not at all sure we need such a strong and long-serving executive figurehead independent of the popular will.

      • Carrington Ward on July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

        *executive figurehead is used advisedly, the autonomy and professionalism of the _executive branch_ is a different subject… and if anything the civil service within the executive branch has been deteriorating.

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