• Makes Sense: Helpful Insights on Impeachment … from Someone Who’s Gone Through It

    Surge Summary: At the end part of last century, former Republican operative Charles Colson shared insightful reflections on the nature and seriousness of the impeachment process and what it meant for America. His comments and cautions bear repeating today as the impeachment prospect once more looms over the nation.

    “Impeachment!” We can barely go a day, it seems, without hearing the term invoked. Over at Breakpoint.org, John Stonestreet and David Carlson offer some timely and handy advice … from a full generation ago:

    In response to the revelation that President Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, Pelosi announced she was launching an “impeachment inquiry.” Though even after the release of partial transcripts of the call that was heralded as a “smoking gun” by some and a “nothing burger” by others, it’s still not clear whether this “inquiry” will lead to actual proceedings. Still, we’re a step beyond where we’ve been since the 1990s.

    They give us a historic refresher on the broader topic:

    [T]wo sitting U.S. presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached. Richard Nixon resigned in order to avoid impeachment. In 1998 and 1999, Chuck Colson brought his up-close, intimate, and personal experience with Watergate to bear, along with his biblical worldview, on the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

    Colson was special counsel to president Nixon and the authors offer three observations of his from those decades-old BreakPoint commentaries which they deem “particularly helpful and clarifying for what we’re likely to face now in the coming months.”

    In one commentary, Colson recognized many people don’t understand what impeachment is and how it works – something that remains true currently, twenty-years on.

    Here’s his helpful explanation:

    If the House of Representatives passes an impeachment resolution this coming week, it does not mean the president is going to be turned out of office. It simply means that the House has made a finding that there is credible evidence …

    The Senate’s job will be to decide how to dispose of the matter: Do nothing, plea bargain, censure, or conduct a trial.

    In their wisdom, our Founding Fathers designed a way we could bring to trial the only man in America who cannot be tried in the courts while he sits in office: the president of the United States. They intended no man to be above the law, a concept that reflects a major Christian contribution to the founding of our nation.

    A handful of years ago, a sizable faction in America sent off the impression that President Barack Obama could simply do no wrong, period. Nothing could or would justify criticism of him, let alone any more serious action opposing his presidency.

    Regrettably, here in 2019 we have the mirror image in many cases; the situation has flipped. Not a few “conservatives”, if they’re being honest, aver the current Republican President is effectively untouchable. If he does it or says it, it is, by definition, a-okay.

    In neither application is that attitude acceptable if we desire our Democratic Republic to operate the way our founders intended.

    Stonestreet/Carlson continue, clarifying the important detail that the House action by itself “will not, I repeat, not, despite what the president’s defenders claim this week, overturn the election results.”

    In another commentary, Chuck makes a startling admission, and extends his rather startling thoughts on a clear and vital difference in how the Watergate investigation proceeded and what he noticed, at that time, about the Clinton impeachment:

    Nearly 25 years ago, I sat in the witness chair facing the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon. It was hardly a happy day for me because I was there to testify under oath about all the transgressions we now know of as Watergate.

    I left the hearings that night knowing I was going to prison, despondent because I knew that my friend President Nixon would soon be out of office. But, in a sense, I had a renewed confidence in the American system. Why? Because the congressmen seemed genuinely concerned about upholding the law. Even the Republicans, mostly partisan defenders of Nixon, recognized that the integrity of the presidency was on the line, and what was right had to take precedence over politics. Even though I was on the losing end, I was reassured that the American system was stronger than any man or partisan interest.

    Colson’s is a bracingly and remarkably unselfish attitude. Of course, at this point he was a newly-converted follower of Jesus Christ and presumably that was part of his selfless reaction to the scandal and his part in it.

    Stonestreet/Carlson add Colson’s melancholy conclusion that, by the 1990’s those days were over. They’d been swept aside by a culture in which political leaders were no longer willing to put the nation’s interest above political ideology. Citizens had lost their confidence in the American system.

    One can only imagine what the late writer/pol/GOP influencer would think about today’s dilemma. Stonestreet/Carlson venture Colson would add a loss of civic knowledge and a lack of public virtue to his analysis.

    Still, in Chuck’s final analysis, after the Senate (wrongly, in his view) acquitted President Clinton, he reminded us that all the events of the cultural moment must be understood in light of something bigger, unchanging, and ultimately sure:

    And for all of us who are Christians, regardless of how we view this process, let us remind ourselves that we serve a God who rules over the affairs of men—whether they know it or not.

    That was true in 1972, in 1998, and it remains true today.

    And it will remain so forever.

    The Kingdom-of-God-minded Colson recognized that truth a score of years ago. Those with the same perspective must maintain it in this present crisis. A part of that responsibility means God’s people must continue to contribute their productive input and many prayers for our elected and appointed officials, and for America. Those responses remain indispensable.

    H/T: Breakpoint.org/John Stonestreet, David Carlson

    Image: Adapted from: Robert L. Knudsen – https://www.nixonlibrary.gov/sites/default/files/ forresearchers/find/av/whpo_cs/37-whpo-7500-cs.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79793151

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