homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

kottke.org posts about Bill Clinton

Impeachment and its misconceptions explained

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 05, 2017

At the recent Aspen Ideas Festival, legal scholar and former Obama advisor Cass Sunstein shared some views on his understanding of and some misconceptions about impeachment, namely that it doesn’t need to involve an actual crime and “is primarily about gross neglect or abuse of power”. Or as he put it more formally in a 1998 essay in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review:

The simplest is that, with respect to the President, the principal goal of the Impeachment Clause is to allow impeachment for a narrow category of egregious or large-scale abuses of authority that comes from the exercise of distinctly presidential powers. On this view, a criminal violation is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for impeaching the President. What is generally necessary is an egregious abuse of power that the President has by virtue of being President. Outside of this category of cases, impeachment is generally foreign to our traditions and is prohibited by the Constitution.

The “distinctly presidential powers” bit is a high bar to clear. Examining the case for Nixon on that basis, and only some of the reasons for wanting to impeach him hold up.

Richard Nixon nearly faced four counts. One failed count, for tax evasion, was completely inappropriate, Sunstein argued: Though an obvious violation of law, it had no bearing on Nixon’s conduct of the presidency. A second charge, for resisting subpoena, is possibly but not necessarily valid, since a president could have good reasons to resisting a subpoena. A third is more debatable: Nixon was charged with covering up the Watergate break-in. Nixon might have been more fairly prosecuted for overseeing the burglary, Sunstein argued, but nabbing him for trying to use the federal government to commit the cover-up was “probably good enough.” Only the fourth charge, of using the federal government’s muscle to prosecute political enemies, is a clear slam-dunk under the Founders’ principles.

Clinton’s impeachment, argued Sunstein in that same Penn Law Review essay, was less well-supported:

I suggest that the impeachment of President Clinton was unconstitutional, because the two articles of impeachment identified no legitimate ground for impeaching the President.

Sunstein explained the intent of the members of the Constitutional Convention in a Bloomberg article back in February. It’s interesting in the light of the Russian collusion investigation that the debate about impeachment at the convention centered around treason.

James Madison concurred, pointing to cases in which a president “might betray his trust to foreign powers.” Gouverneur Morris added that the president “may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust; and no one would say that we ought to expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him.”

So what about Trump? Sunstein doesn’t offer much (no apparent mention of collusion with Russia):

Sunstein, having scolded legal colleagues for playing pundit, was reluctant to address the question directly. Setting aside the impossibility of impeaching Trump under the present circumstances of GOP control of Congress, Sunstein said he was wary of trying to remove the president simply for being bad at his job. Nonetheless, he said Trump’s prolific dishonesty might form a basis for trying to remove him.

“If a president lies on some occasions or is fairly accused of lying, it’s not impeachable — but if you have a systematic liar who is lying all the time, then we’re in the ballpark of misdemeanor, meaning bad action,” he said.

If I were a betting person, I would wager that Donald Trump has a better chance of getting reelected in 2020 than he does of being impeached (and a much better chance than actually being removed from office through impeachment) if the Republicans retain their majority in Congress. Although their healthcare bill has hit a hiccup due to public outcry (and it’s only a hiccup…it will almost surely pass), Congressional Republicans have shown absolutely no willingness to do anything not in the interest of their agenda…so why would they impeach a Republican President who is ticking all of the far right’s action items thus far?

Bill Clinton playing M83

posted by Aaron Cohen   Jul 03, 2012

Well, everyone knows Clinton played sax on the Arsenio Hall Show. What this video presupposes is… maybe he played M83?

Watch at :30 to see the hand claps sync. (★Interesting)

PBS documentary on Bill Clinton

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 15, 2012

American Experience is airing a four-hour documentary on Bill Clinton starting on Feb 20.

Clinton follows the president across his two terms as he confronted some of the key forces that would shape the future, including partisan political warfare and domestic and international terrorism, and as he struggled with uneven success to define the role of American power in a post-Cold War world. Most memorably, it explores how Clinton’s conflicted character made history, even as it enraged his enemies and confounded his friends.

The first twelve minutes of the film is available to watch on the PBS web site right now.

Bill Clinton interviewed

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 19, 2012

From the February 2012 issue of Esquire, an interview with former President Bill Clinton about the current political and governmental landscape in America.

One of the real dilemmas we have in our country and around the world is that what works in politics is organization and conflict. That is, drawing the sharp distinctions. But in real life, what works is networks and cooperation. And we need victories in real life, so we’ve got to get back to networks and cooperation, not just conflict. But politics has always been about conflict, and in the coverage of politics, information dissemination tends to be organized around conflict as well. It is extremely personal now, and you see in these primaries that the more people agree with each other on the issues, the more desperate they are to make the clear distinctions necessary to win, so the deeper the knife goes in.

The unlikeliest thing in the world

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 05, 2009

From Freed Journalists Return to U.S. in the NY Times:

“Thirty hours ago, Euna Lee and I were prisoners in North Korea,” Ms. Ling said in brief remarks to reporters, blinking back tears. “We feared that at any moment we could be prisoners in a hard labor camp. Then suddenly we were told that we were going to a meeting. We were taken to a location and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton.”

One could imagine a chart of the possible range of human experiences from negative to positive circa 2009; near one end would be “prisoners in a North Korean hard labor camp” and near the other, “personal meeting with President Bill Clinton”.

Update: Christopher Hitchens says that Clinton’s trip did little but gratify and flatter Kim Jong-il.

The Kim Jong-il gang was always planning to release them. They were arrested in order to be let go and were maintained in releasable shape until the deal could be done. Does this not — or should this not — slightly qualify and dilute our joy in seeing them come home? Does the Dear Leader not say to himself, That was easy? Are the North Korean people not being assured, through their megaphone media, that the sun shines so consistently out of the rear end of their celestial boss that even powerful U.S. statesmen will appear at the airport to bring apologies, pay tribute, and receive custody of uninvited guests in the workers’ paradise?

Super Tuesday Surprise: Leading Minsk Newspaper Endorses

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 04, 2008

Super Tuesday Surprise: Leading Minsk Newspaper Endorses Candidates in US Presidential Race.

The Democrats have now only two candidates who stand to chance against this powerful phalanx: Barack Obama, senator of City Chicago and nephew of Saddam Hussein; and Hillary Rodham Clinton, organizer of popular solidarity-building women’s breakfasts for discussion of hair-hygiene and of place of woman in American politics, and only official wife of number-one enemy of Serbs and all Slavic peoples, Bill Clinton.

Also: “The Woman: it is also Person!”

Not sure when this happened, but the

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2007

Not sure when this happened, but the New Yorker has posted the huge profile of Bill Clinton that David Remnick wrote for the magazine back in September 2006. Yes it’s long, but well worth the effort. Related: a NY Times crossword puzzle with clues provided by Clinton.

Greg Veen wears his “George Bush Doesn’t

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 16, 2007

Greg Veen wears his “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” tshirt in a photo with Bill Clinton. Awesome.

Historical rankings of US presidents. Honest Abe

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2006

Historical rankings of US presidents. Honest Abe is number one with a…well, he’s just #1. George W. Bush comes in at a respectable 22nd, just behind Bill Clinton. (via fakeisthenewreal)

Bill Clinton on the Daily Show.

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2006

Bill Clinton on the Daily Show.

The Guardian has a nice profile/interview

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2006

The Guardian has a nice profile/interview of David Remnick. Incidentally, Remnick has a monster 25-page profile of Bill Clinton in this week’s New Yorker…well worth reading if you can track down a copy of the magazine; consider this Q&A with Remnick about the article a tasty snack.

Celebrities playing table tennis

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2005

From The Morning News comes this collection of photographs of celebrities playing table tennis. Among those pictured are Henry Kissinger, Billie Jean King, Lauren Bacall, and Bob Marley. Here are Bill and Hillary Clinton:

Clintons Ping Pong

I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out just how full of useless knowledge I am: under the rules of the USATT (specifically 10.10), you’re not allowed to touch the table with your free hand during a volley as Hillary is doing here. Point to Bill.