In the first 175 years of the nation, the House of Representatives impeached only one president, Andrew Johnson. Now in the last 57 years, it’s impeached two, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, and it may be ready to impeach a third.
Why the rise in impeachments? Because we forget that impeachment is extraordinary. The normal way to remove a president is by the people through elections. The extraordinary way is impeachment, with its Constitutional requirement of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Lacking political patience, we threaten to make the extraordinary now ordinary.
Politics is an ugly business. Quid pro quos in foreign policy? They doubtless happen more than we think and, if we don’t like them, we have a chance to cast our vote in one year. But a case of high crimes and misdemeanors demanding an extraordinary remedy?
I think not.