Impeachment is in the air.
The Democratic members of the House of Representatives have turned the use of impeachment proceedings into some sort of communicable disease. It can be spread by intolerance of a political foe who happens to have won an election that he or she was not expected to win.
This is the way House Democrats have pursued the impeachment of President Trump.
Their first article alleging an impeachable act on his part makes no claim of a crime or any misdeed of similar weight.
It is simply a listing of frustrations with the actions of the president with respect to Ukraine. Those actions may be on the margins of appropriateness. But they clearly do not amount to a “high crime or misdemeanor,” which is the standard set forth in the Constitution for impeachment.
Even in a night court in New York City, this would not be a prima facie charge. It would be seen for what it is: a mean-spirited rant.
The second article is a charge that the president has committed “obstruction of Congress.”
This is an especially peculiar claim, since there has never been, and never will be, a president who does not attempt to obstruct Congress. This is called the “checks and balances” form of government.
At the center of the constitutional structure of our government as designed by James Madison is the idea that the president, the Congress and the judiciary would play off each other. They would balance each other out, and this would ensure that no branch would have singular, autocratic power.
It appears that the Democratic members of Congress missed this Madisonian point during their educations prior to arriving on Capitol Hill.
Not only does every president view Congress in an adversarial way. Every Congress views the president the same way.
Since the presidencies of John Kennedy and especially Lyndon Johnson, the Congress has worked in part with the purpose of containing — also called obstructing — the power asserted by the executive branch at the expense of Congress.
In fact, the term “imperial presidency” has become a common term used to describe the shift of power from Congress to the president in the post-Second World War era.
If “obstruction of Congress” is a cause for impeachment, then “obstruction of the president” must also fall into that same arena of malfeasance.
In this connection, the second article of impeachment which the House Democrats have put forth should have included a section that called for the impeachment of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senator Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The Democratic leaders have been singularly dedicated to obstructing Trump from doing his job as president effectively.
These leaders have tried to undermine his efforts to govern from the day the president was declared the winner of an election that still grates on them.
They have denied him the ability to promptly fill hundreds of positions which need Senate confirmation. This has clearly obstructed the president’s ability to operate efficiently.
The Democratic leaders have instead insisted on pursuing an unending stream of investigations into the 2016 presidential election, beginning with the probe regarding Russia.
The obvious purpose of these investigations has been to undermine the credibility of the president’s right to office. This is nothing but a course of obstruction of the presidency by the Congress.
The list goes on — as it should, and as Madison wanted it to do. This is the execution of checks and balances.
It is not only not-impeachable for a president to resist the Congress when it is seeking to undermine his role. It is his responsibility.
Alexander Hamilton, writing as Publius in Federalist Paper Number 66, discussed the standard that the Senate should use in adjudicating impeachment.
He stated that impeachment should only occur when there was “evidences of guilt so extraordinary” that no other conclusion but impeachment could be reached. This was in relation to impeaching judges — but clearly impeaching a president would require this standard or an even higher one.
Today, the Democratic House has put forward no claim that is supported by any “evidences of guilt so extraordinary” as to cause the removal by unelected means of a president elected by the people.
The hypocrisy of the Speaker and her Democratic colleagues in calling for the impeachment of the president on the grounds that he was doing what the House of Representatives does on a daily basis — trying to obstruct the power of another branch of government — is so palpably misguided as to be almost humorous.
Unfortunately, the humor is overwhelmed by the serious failure of the Democratic House to recognize the blatant inconsistency of their claim and its affront to the central concept of our constitutional system.
If one pushes to its logical end the justification of impeachment that has been put forward by the Democratic House members, they should impeach themselves.
Or they should at least consider having a remedial class on the Constitution, where they are required to actually read the Constitution and the writings of Hamilton, Madison and Jay in the Federalist Papers.
But they will not do this.
They would rather work to undermine this president by putting forth articles of impeachment that have as their only real purpose obstructing Donald Trump’s presidency — and of course his reelection.
Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.