History Will Judge Them
"Profiles in Courage", Andrew Johnson, Edmund Ross, Impeachment, Thaddeus Stevens
The radical fanatic Thaddeus Stevens delivering the final speech closing the debate in the House on the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. When conviction failed in the Senate, by one vote, it is reported that Stevens was carried from the Senate in his chair –- looking “black with rage and disappointment.”
Today, democrats in the House of Representatives, carried away by partisan fanaticism, will take advantage of their possession of an ephemeral voting majority to impeach the president they hate for a second time.
Like periodic epidemics of contagious disease, it seems that residents of the territories of today’s United States are subject as well to periodic outbreaks of madness and fanaticism.
A notable case occurred in the neighborhood of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Enormous fatalities, over 600,000 deaths, roughly two and half per cent of the entire population succumbed 1861-1865 to a truly devastating plague of self-righteousness, intolerance, and sectional animosity. Secondary infections lingered for years, most notably causing the takeover of the federal Congress by a majority of hydrophobic madmen.
The radical Congress came into conflict with a maladroit president, the poorly-educated, but stubborn, willful, and choleric, Andrew Johnson, whose own temper was generally exacerbated by his drinking habits. Johnson, a stubbornly Pro-Union Southerner, was disinclined to support the punitive Jacobin agenda of the Northern radicals in control of Congress, and the Revolutionary Congressional mob rapidly lost patience with the unwelcome restraint of an uncooperative Chief Executive. They enacted unconstitutional constraints on Johnson’s powers of appointment, and when he proceeded to defy their edict, provoked the ultimate sanction in their power: impeachment.
Even at its worst, 19th Century America was far better than today’s, and when push came to shove, Kansas Senator Edmund Ross won an honored place in American History (and a chapter of his own in John F. Kennedy’s (ghost-written) book Profiles in Courage by casting the deciding vote to acquit.
Non-Marxist historians shudder when they contemplate the morals and character of the radical leaders of that unhappy period, and the philosopher feels a deep sense of gratitude for human mortality that quietly moved the American Republic out of military dictatorship and Jacobin directorate, peaceably and almost imperceptibly, into mere ordinary Gilded Age Political Corruption.
Obviously, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi do not spend time worrying about what American historians a century from now will say about them. But they should.
Obviously, democrats are playing the Reichstag Fire game: opportunistically inflating the gravity of an incident and mendaciously assigning grave culpability to political opponents to justify an illicit power grab.
As their first step, they are hoping to impeach, convict, and thereby bar Trump from running again in 2024.
Their characterizations of the Capitol Hill protests as a “coup” and an “insurrection” are ridiculous, and hypocritical considering left-wing democrats’ notorious support for months of urban rioting and violence last year.
Their assignment of responsibility to Trump for individual misbehavior on a minor scale in the course of a generally peaceful protest is preposterous.
Donald Trump will be leaving office in one week, and democrats are so vindictive, so shameless, and so atrociously irresponsible as to try this.
The radical Republican attempt to impeach Andrew Johnson was such a humiliating failure that nearly a century and half went by before any House majority was bold enough to try using it again. Impeaching (the guilty) Bill Clinton failed. Impeaching Trump the first time failed.
When this disgraceful episode is finished, a second try in the last hours of a departing administration will in all probability deservedly fail again.
After this, it will be a very, very, very long time before any House majority makes fools of themselves by playing partisan games with the most dangerous and important emergency clauses of the Constitution.